1 rating

Wild Mushroom Biryani


Wild Mushroom Biryani

The perfect combination of drama, show, and pomp. This dish requires a little effort, but all it needs to go with it is a raita and perhaps a salad on the side. I like to use a few different types of mushroom for varying textures and flavors, and if the budget allows, to add a few wild mushrooms. If not, stick to shiitake, oyster, and large cremini mushrooms. The pastry is lovely on top but you can leave it off and finish the dish with saffron and some roasted cashews instead. The cream and tomato paste are there to balance the flavors of the sauce, so add to taste, and season the sauce well.

Click here to see Indian Cooking, Simplified.


For the mushrooms

  • 4 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 Cups yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, minced
  • 1 Ounce peeled ginger, grated
  • 6 large cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 Teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 Teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 Teaspoons garam masala
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 3/4 Pound mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced or torn into large pieces
  • 2/3 Cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon rounded tomato paste, or to taste
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream, or to taste

For the rice

  • Good pinch of saffron
  • 2 Tablespoons hot milk
  • 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • One 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 3 1/4 Cups basmati rice, well washed, then soaked for 20 minutes
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Small handful of shredded mint leaves
  • Small handful of chopped cilantro leaves
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 9 Ounces puff pastry
  • 1/2 Teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)


For the mushrooms

Combine the tomatoes and yogurt in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and blend until smooth. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan. Add the onions and cook until golden on the edges.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook gently until the smell of raw garlic has disappeared, about 1 minute. Add the blended tomatoes and all of the spices. Season with salt, to taste, and give the pan a stir.

Cook until it becomes a thick paste and releases oil back into the pan, then continue cooking for another couple of minutes to darken.

Stir in the mushrooms and cook until they release their water, for 4-5 minutes (cover the pan after 2 minutes, but keep giving them a stir). Add the water and bring to a boil, then simmer until the whole thing comes together, for 7-8 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and the cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more cream or tomato paste to balance the sourness in the tomatoes and yogurt. The sauce should be like thick cream. Remove from the heat.

For the rice

Combine the saffron, hot milk, and heavy cream in a small bowl and soak for 30 minutes. Bring the water to a boil in a medium-sized pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the whole spices and cook for 30 seconds. Drain the rice, add it to the pan, and stir well. Add the water and season generously with salt, to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on very low heat until the rice is just done, around 7-9 minutes (check after 7 minutes). Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Find a suitable dish that is both ovenproof and table-ready. Layer half of the rice in the dish, then spoon all of the mushrooms and sauce evenly over it. Sprinkle the herbs on top and finish with the remaining rice. Drizzle the saffron milky cream on top.

Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out the pastry to fit the dish, seasoning with the fenugreek leaves, if using, and a little sea salt, pressing them in so they stay in place.

Lift the pastry over the dish, sealing the edges and trimming away excess. Brush with the egg, if using. Bake until the pastry is golden and cooked all the way through, for 30 minutes, then serve.