Mummyji’s Biryani – Rice cooked with whole vegetables

I call this recipe Mummyji’s biryani as this is a recipe my mother in law (MIL) taught me to make nearly 35 years ago!!.  This dish is my husband’s favourite so she was keen that I learnt how to make the dish.  Although we call this dish biryani – it’s actually rice cooked with vegetables that are kept whole and stuffed with spices.   In this recipe, the vegetables are stuffed with several spices.   The origins of this recipe are from a small coastal town in Tanzania.  I have never known anyone else make this dish so I would be very interested to hear from anyone who does make this dish.  I love making this dish as it is a perfect one pot meal for Saturdays when you have so many chores to catch up on.  I have changed the stuffing ingredients slightly over the years.  I always keep a bottle of the stuffing ready mixed in the fridge to save time.


In Tanzania,  my MIL used to make it on a coal burning stove called Jiko.  It was a slow cooking process but this made the food taste nicer as it gave all the spices a chance to blend.  Now a days, making this dish has also become quicker and easier in the microwave but I do miss the taste of Africa sometimes.

You can also make this dish in the instant pot. cooking it in the Instant Pot makes it so easy as the food doesn’t require too much attention when cooking. The Instant  Pot (IP) is a pressure cooker but can also be used as a slow cooker. rice cooker, sauté/browning, yoghurt maker and steamer. The recipe for making this in the Instant Pot is here 

Ingredients to make biryani  for 4 servings

For the stuffing:
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons chickpea flour
  • 1  teaspoon salt
  • 2  teaspoons chilly powder (you can use less if you so wish)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2  tablespoons cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed and blended garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons of blanched peanuts
  • 2-3 tablespoons of porridge oats

For the biryani:

  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 6 small potatoes
  • 5 small aubergines
  • 4-5 baby onions
  • 2-3 peppers
  • half a cup of frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots and green beans)
  • 2-3  tablespoon of cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1 ½  teaspoons of a mixture of mustard, cumin and dry coriander seeds for the tempering (you can use only mustard seeds or cumin seeds if you don’t wish to use the mixture)


1.  Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes or more if possible.
2.  Prepare the masala for the stuffing.
3.  Grind the peanuts and oats in a coffee grinder.
4. Add everything listed above for the stuffing in a microwave dish and cook it for one minute, remove and stir.
5.   Wash and prepare the vegetables.   Slice the potatoes and aubergines just half way across and stuff them with the spice mixture.  Cut the onions into large pieces and arrange all the vegetables in a microwave dish as shown below: (use a fairly smart cooking dish as this bhat is usually served straight at the table).
6. Add the frozen vegetables on top of this mixture.
7. Drain the water from the rice and add it on top of the vegetables
8. Add any remaining spicy mixture on top of  the vegetables and rice
9.  Add one cup of water to the mixture.

10.  Usng a fork, press down the vegetables gently.

11.  In a separate heat the oil and add the mustard, cumin and coriander seeds.  Once the oil heats and the mustard seeds pop add the oil on top of the spices in the main saucepan.
12.  Cook the rice  in the microwave for 10 minutes.
13.  The rice takes 20 -25 minutes in a fast microwave.  I suggest that you check the bhat every ten minutes to ensure it is cooking well.  You can prick the potatoes with a knife to check if they are cooked. At no time, stir the mixture.
14.  Cooking in the microwave, seals in all the flavours and the aroma when this dish was cooking was out of this world.
15.  The rice should be served straight from the microwave dish  ensuring  that the vegetables do not get squashed.
16.  The rice can be eaten with yogurt or kadhi and hot chapattis. We tend to eat it with Greek style yogurt mostly for lunch on a weekend.

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