This recipe is purely of my invention. It is unusual for a biryani because there are no onions or tomatoes – its flavour is based solely on mushrooms and a South Indian palate of spices. For a more substantial meal, add a can of drained chickpeas to the mushroom mixture. If you prefer, pick out the whole spices before layering the rice into the casserole dish. Serve as a main course with raita, or as a side dish.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time

    1h 30m


For Rice

  • 2 cups aged basmati rice
  • 10 cups water
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick

For Biryani

  • 900 gm white button mushrooms, trimmed and thickly sliced
  • 36 curry leaves, roughly torn
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2-6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sambar powder (or curry powder)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked peppercorns
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup chopped coriander leaves and tender green stems
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil or any neutral oil


  1. Bring the water, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon to a boil in a large pot. Add the rice and stir, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  2. Return to a boil and reduce heat to a vigorous simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 6 minutes. Drain and set aside (you can pick out the whole spices if you like).
  3. Heat your oven to 350°F (approx 176°C).
  4. Heat the oil, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds and cumin in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, cooking for about 1.5 to 2.5 minutes until the cumin is browned and the mustard seeds start to pop.
  5. Add the curry leaves, red chillies and turmeric and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the ground coriander and cook for around 1 minute, while stirring, until the red chillies are starting to darken.
  6. Toss the mushrooms and salt into the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high (the skillet will be full at this point). Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid and the total volume is reduced by about half.
  7. Mix in the sambar (or curry powder) and then stir in the buttermilk. Bring to a vigorous simmer and cook for 8-12 minutes until the liquid gets reduced by half and becomes slightly thick (there will still be quite a bit of sauce).
  8. Stir in the cracked pepper and turn off the heat. Grease a large 10-cup oven-safe casserole dish or Dutch oven (preferably one with a lid) with butter.
  9. Add 2 cups of cooked rice, spreading it evenly over the bottom of the dish. Cover with half the mushroom mixture and sprinkle with a third of the coriander.
  10. Evenly spread 1.5 cups of rice over the coriander and cover with the remaining mushrooms and half the remaining coriander.
  11. Evenly spread the remaining rice on top and pour 1/2 cup of water around the edges of the dish. Cover tightly with aluminium foil, seal with a lid and bake for 35 minutes.
  12. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining coriander and serve.
Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran

Suvir Saran, the Chef-Owner of The House of Celeste in Gurgaon, is Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for August. A legend in New York’s food circles, Chef Suvir garnered a Michelin star at Devi, a first for Indian cuisine restaurants in North America. He is the chairman of Asian Culinary Studies for the Culinary Institute of America and has written three cookbooks: ‘Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food’, ‘American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen’ and ‘Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country’. His fourth book, ‘Instamatic: A Chef’s Deeper More Thoughful Look into Today’s Instaworld’, released earlier this year. Chef Saran’s approachable style helped demystify Indian cuisine in the US and ultimately formed American Masala, his culinary philosophy that celebrates the best of Indian and American cooking.

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