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Baked Veg Biryani (Pilau) HIGH RES-min

Summer Green Palav

Introducing this fragrant and flavoursome recipe from Cyrus Todiwala, head chef at Cafe Spice Namaste and author of Simple Spice Vegetarian. A simple palav using a basic South-Indian-style of preparing rice.

  • 16 - 30 Minutes
  • Easy
  • Serves 4




  • Tilda Grand Sella Basmati Rice 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • 1.25 litres water
  • 200g broad beans, skinned
  • ½ broccoli head, cut into florets
  • and the stalks sliced
  • 2 handfuls kale, chopped
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 100g peas
  • 3tbsp oil
  • 1tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2cm piece of a cinnamon stick
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large dried red chillies,
  • chopped
  • 12–15 fresh curry leaves, shredded (if using dried, soak in water for10–12 minutes) and dry thoroughly before shredding
  • 5cm piece of fresh ginger 5cm, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • ¼ coconut flesh, freshly sliced (optional)
  • ½tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste


  1. To make the stock for the rice, pour the water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add a little salt and, one by one, blanch the vegetables until cooked but retaining a bit of bite and not soft. Use a slotted spoon to lift each of the vegetables out of the water and transfer to a sieve placed over a bowl. Leave to cool and reserve the water.

  2. Measure 1 litre of the reserved water, topping up with fresh water if there isn’t enough. Pour the cooking water back into the pan.

  3. Preheat the oven to 130°C.

  4. Heat the oil in a large pot or casserole dish that has a lid and can go in the oven. Add the mustard seeds and cinnamon stick. As soon as the mustard seeds crackle, add the cumin seeds and red chilli and after a few seconds add the curry leaves, ginger and onion

  5. As soon as the onion turns soft, about 3–4 minutes, add the sliced coconut and the turmeric and sauté for a couple of minutes until the coconut starts to change colour slightly around the edges.

  6. Add the reserved water and bring to the boil. Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Pour in the rice and stir gently with a flat wooden spatula to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Cook for 5–6 minutes, until the water is nearly absorbed. Stir in the vegetables, cover the pot and place in the oven.

  7. Cook for 15 minutes or so, then turn the oven off and leave the palav in the oven for another 10–12 minutes. Remove and mix together gently. Ensure that the rice is cooked.

  8. Serve the rice immediately with some daal or yogurt or even on its own.