Pumpkin Biriyani recipe

This communal vegetarian biryani recipe from Indian chef Vivek Singh fills a hollowed-out pumpkin with many different vegetables and rice and is perfect for a large celebration. Crack open the lid with your guests at the table and let the aromas of saffron, rosewater and pumpkin fill the air.


  • 1 large pumpkin, top removed and reserved, hollowed out to remove seeds and fibres
  • 100 grams of tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoons of chilli flakes
  • 250 grams of basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of milk, warmed
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of rosewater
  • 50 grams of green beans
  • 150 grams of plain yoghurt
  • 75 milliliters of single cream
  • 6 green chillies, split lengthways
  • 2 onions, sliced and deep-fried until golden
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoons of red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 1/8 nutmeg, grated
  • 1 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 bunch of mint, leaves only, chopped
  • 3 liters of water
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoons of cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 blades of mace
  • 200 grams of portobello mushroom, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1/2 swede, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1/2 turnip, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1/2 sweet potato, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1/4 celeriac, cut into 1cm dice
  • 1 lemon for juice
  • 2 Jerusalem artichokes
  • 10 green beans, cut into 1cm pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
  2. Coat the inside of the pumpkin with the tamarind paste, sprinkle with the chilli flakes and place on a rack and roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, until tender but still holding its shape
  3. Soak the rice in cold water for approximately 10 minutes, then drain
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the Jerusalem artichokes for the vegetable filling by peeling and cutting into a 1cm dice and squeezing over some lemon juice
  5. Mix together the marinade ingredients in a flameproof casserole dish, but include only half the mint
  6. Stir in the chopped green beans, the mushrooms and vegetables for the filling and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes
  7. Meanwhile, add the water and boiling spices to a large saucepan and bring to the boil
  8. Add the drained rice and boil, uncovered, for 6–8 minutes, until the rice is not quite cooked. Drain well
  9. Place the warm milk and saffron in a bowl and leave for 3–5 minutes to infuse. Stir in the oil and rosewater essence and set aside
  10. Once the vegetables have marinated, place the casserole dish over a low heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the vegetables are half-cooked
  11. Layer the rice over the simmering vegetables, pour over the saffron mixture and sprinkle with the remaining mint
  12. Cover the casserole pan, increase the heat to high and leave to cook for 5–7 minutes – this will allow the steam build up
  13. As soon as the steam starts escaping from the pot, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 8–10 minutes. Remove the casserole from the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes
  14. Transfer the biryani to the pumpkin shell. Chop the remaining green beans into 1cm pieces and sprinkle them over the biryani. Cover with the reserved pumpkin lid
  15. Place on a baking tray and roast in an oven set to 200°C/gas mark 5 for 15 minutes
  16. Remove the pumpkin from the oven, take off the lid and serve immediately

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