This delicious Indian-approved dish is perfect for an easy weeknight meal

Recipe and photo by Weizel Gulfan

Not all Filipinos can appreciate the strong flavors of Indian curry, but we can all enjoy biryani. The original recipe is carb-heavy and is usually balanced with vegetables and protein on the side—whether a satay, tandoori or dal, a soupy Indian chop suey. So I thought of a way of making biryani a more balanced meal on its own.

Cauliflower rice dishes are best done when the recipe is hearty—aromatic spices, generous amounts of vegetables topped with savory yet healthy fat sources like coconut milk and coconut butter. Because the base is low in carbs, adding complex starches like sweet potatoes provides extra slow burning energy. And because it’s a warming salad, it’s best to sauté the ingredients separately so that they retain their crunch and color. The best thing about this recipe is that it cooks faster than using Basmati rice; it’s also not as warming to the body—owing to its largely vegetable components—which makes it perfect for summer. 

I personally had my Indian friend try this and it was complimented generously. If it’s good enough for my well-traveled foodie buddy, then I’m confident to share this recipe with everyone else.

Cauliflower Rice Biryani

Serves 3

Ingredients:

3 tbsp coconut oil or coconut butter

1 onion, diced

2 tbsp garlic, minced

1 tbsp ginger, minced

4 tomatoes, seeded and diced

3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup Sitaw, chopped

1 carrot, diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 celery stalk, sliced thinly

5 button mushrooms, chopped

2 cauliflowers for the cauliflower rice (Chop florets finely and mince in a food processor or high speed blender)

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup roasted cashews

2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin

2 star anise

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup fresh coconut milk

Cauliflower rice dishes are best done when the recipe is hearty—aromatic spices, generous amounts of vegetables topped with savory yet healthy fat sources like coconut milk and coconut butter. Because the base is low in carbs, adding complex starches like sweet potatoes provides extra slow burning energy

Directions:

1. Cut and prepare the vegetables. Set aside.

2. Lightly roast whole spices (coriander, star anise, fennel seeds, cinnamon, bay leaves) in a pot on medium heat, with coconut oil or butter until aromatic.

3. Sauté garlic, onion, ginger and tomatoes.

4. Add vegetable stock. When it comes to a gentle boil, add garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and paprika. Gently simmer until only half of the liquid, (or about 1.5 cup) is left.

5. Pan-fry sweet potatoes until firm. Set aside. Do the same for carrots and button mushrooms, then set aside.

6. Sauté red bell pepper, celery, and sitaw until they’re half done.

7. Lightly roast cauliflower rice in coconut oil only until it glistens and softens a bit. Don’t fully cook.

8. Add the vegetables into the broth. Add cauliflower rice. Stir a few times to incorporate. Add coconut milk. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed.

9. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with a generous amount of cilantro and then top with roasted cashews.

10. Serve warm.