Quinoa Vegetable Biryani/Pilaf in Instant Pot

Quinoa Vegetable Biryani/Pilaf is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani! This recipe is an adaptation of my go-to Biryani recipe. Biryani is a popular Indian rice casserole, where long grain basmati rice is cooked with meat or vegetables in Indian spices. I use the same recipe, but replace Basmati rice with Quinoa. I add vegetables and paneer (Indian cottage cheese), adding more protein and vitamins to this dish. Fresh herbs like mint and cilantro add a fresh and floral contrast to the earthy flavors of  Biryani Masala. Nuts like almonds and cashews add richness and texture to the rice. I serve it with a side of Cucumber Raita (Yogurt dip), and enjoy a healthy and complete meal in less than 20 minutes.

Even though my family’s love for the classic biryani stands intact, this dish is my effort to introduce a healthier Biryani recipe, so we can enjoy is more often. And the result is simply delicious. It’s quick to make, cooks at lightning speed in my Instant Pot, so a big one-pot weeknight hit in my family!

Quionoa vegetable biryani.   A healthy twist to your everyday vegetarian biryani by Spice Cravings.  Quinoa Vegetable Biryani/Pilaf is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani! I replace rice with Quinoa in this recipe.  #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot  #recipes #easyrecipe  #cuisine  #30minutemeal  #instagood #foodphotography #tasty  #indian

Quinoa, the Super Food:

Quinoa is perhaps one of the most popular super foods of this decade. It’s a seed, not a grain, it’s gluten-free, high in protein, fiber, amino acids and a great source of minerals. It’s higher protein and fiber content makes it a popular and healthy substitute for many grains like rice, wheat, pasta etc.

Quionoa vegetable biryani.   A healthy twist to your everyday vegetarian biryani by Spice Cravings.  Quinoa Vegetable Biryani/Pilaf is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani! I replace rice with Quinoa in this recipe.  #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot  #recipes #easyrecipe  #cuisine  #30minutemeal  #instagood #foodphotography #tasty  #indian

Healthier Carb Choice for my Family:

As a family, we have been trying to make better food choices and make our meals more balanced and healthier. With the focus on high-protein-lower-carbs, I have been experimenting with my family’s favorite biryani recipes. Over the last year or so, we have been substituting Quinoa for rice in many dishes. Even though Quinoa still contains carbs, it is a better and healthier choice for my family.

According to MyFitnessPal.com, 1 cup cooked long-grain white rice contains the following:

  • Total Carbs: 40 grams;
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Net Carbs (Total Carbs- Fiber): 39 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams

Whereas, 1 cup of cooked Quinoa contains:

  • Total Carbs: 30 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Net Carbs (Total Carbs- Fiber): 24 grams
  • Protein: 8 grams

As you can see, Quinoa is high in fiber, which brings the net carb count down. The higher fiber and protein content means we feel satisfied or full in a lesser quantity of quinoa vs rice.  I can eat a cup of cooked rice very easily, but I can rarely eat more than 1/2 a cup of cooked quinoa. Additionally, since it is high in protein, it slows down the process of carb absorption in the body vs. rice, which gets processed as a simple carbohydrate. Of course, this analysis is based on the research I have done for my family and should not be used as professional advice.

Quionoa vegetable biryani.   A healthy twist to your everyday vegetarian biryani by Spice Cravings.  Quinoa Vegetable Biryani/Pilaf is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani! I replace rice with Quinoa in this recipe.  #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot  #recipes #easyrecipe  #cuisine  #30minutemeal  #instagood #foodphotography #tasty  #indian

How to Customize Quinoa Vegetable Biryani Pilaf?

This recipe is easily customizable. Add your choice of vegetables, switch the protein and season it with your favorite spice blend. You can add shrimp to this dish and make a Shrimp Quinoa Biryani, following the same timing and directions. If you can add diced chicken pieces, simply increase the cooking time to 4 minutes and enjoy a fantastic Chicken Quinoa Biryani.

More Quinoa Favorites from my Kitchen:

Quinoa Poha- a healthy twist to the most popular breakfast in India, garam masala kitchen

Quinoa Poha (Sweet & Savory Pilaf)

Quinoa-Veggie Burgers Tikki, instant pot quinoa

Quinoa Burger Patties

Minestrone Soup in Instant Pot

Minestrone Soup with Quinoa

Quinoa Vegetable Biryani in Instant Pot

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 2 mins manual, NPR

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon ghee/butter/olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (1/2 inch ginger + 3 cloves garlic)
  • 4 tablespoons almonds & cashews, whole or halves
  • 2 cups assorted vegetables of your choice
  • 1 cup paneer, cubed, about 4-5 oz. (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons shan bombay biryani masala (depending on your spice level; see 'notes' for substitute)
  • 3 tablespoons fried onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and mint
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

1

Prep: Cut assorted vegetables of your choice in bite size pieces. Cube paneer in 1/2 inch pieces. Crush 1/2 inch ginger+ 3 garlic cloves and keep aside (if using fresh).

2

Turn IP on Sauté. Wait 30 seconds and add cumin seeds. When cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds. Add almonds and cashews and sauté another 30 seconds.

3

Add vegetables and paneer, Biryani masala (see 'notes' for substitute for masala blend) and quinoa. Add water and stir well. Top with fried onions, saffron strands and chopped cilantro-mint. Close lid. Valve set to Sealing. Press Manual (hi) for 2 minutes.

4

After natural pressure release, NPR, open lid. Using a fork, gently fluff the biryani. Serve with raita or your favorite condiment.

Notes

If you want your quinoa extra soft, pressure cook it for 3-4 minutes instead.
Substitute for Biryani Masala: 1 tbsp Garam Masala, 1 tbsp Coriander Powder, 2 tsp Cumin Powder, 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp salt

PIN IT:
Quionoa vegetable biryani.   A healthy twist to your everyday vegetarian biryani by Spice Cravings.  Quinoa Vegetable Biryani/Pilaf is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani! I replace rice with Quinoa in this recipe.  #food #foodie #foodblogger #delicious #recipe #instantpot  #recipes #easyrecipe  #cuisine  #30minutemeal  #instagood #foodphotography #tasty  #indian

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Yasmin
    November 9, 2017 at 5:21 am

    This looks scrumptious. Going to have to make this soon. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      November 9, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Thanks Yasmin! This is a regular in my home now! Would love to hear how you liked it!

  • Reply
    poornima
    March 31, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I am excited to make this with shrimp. Does this change to amount of liquid or the time to cook?

    • Reply
      aneeshasg
      March 31, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Poornima, Shrimp sounds wonderful in this recipe, I have yet to try that. Time and liquid would be the same. I would QR after cooking to prevent the shrimp from over cooking. Would love to hear how it turned out!

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