Quinoa Vegetable Biryani in Instant Pot| Quinoa Pilaf

September 22, 2017 (Updated: October 28, 2019) By Aneesha |

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Quinoa Vegetable Biryani is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani.  I replace rice with quinoa in this simple 30-minute recipe, add vegetables and paneer, and season everything with a biryani spice mix for a tasty and sumptuous meal.

Quinoa cooked with vegetables with Indian spices, in a Biryani style

Light and Healthy One-Pot Meal

This quinoa 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 veg 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

You might Like this Instant Pot Vegetable Biryani Recipe

Quinoa, the Super Food

Quinoa is perhaps one of the most popular super foods of this decade.  It’s a seed, not a grain, which makes it gluten-free

It is high in protein, fiber, amino acids and a great source of minerals. Quinoa’s higher protein and fiber content makes it a popular and healthy substitute for many grains like rice, wheat, pasta etc.

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 as compared to white rice.

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.

Also, 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 Make Quinoa Vegetable Biryani in an Instant Pot

Here are the step by step instructions on how to make this easy and delicious Quinoa Vegetable Biryani in an Instant Pot, or any comparable electric pressure cooker, like the Mealthy Multipot.

  • 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).
  • Turn instant pot 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.
  • Add vegetables and paneer, Biryani masala (see ‘notes’ for substitute for masala blend) and quinoa.  Then, add water and stir well. Top with fried onions, saffron strands and chopped cilantro-mint. Close lid.  Press Manual/Pressure cook (high) for 2 minutes.
  • After natural pressure release (NPR), open the lid. Using a fork, gently fluff the biryani. Serve with raita or your favorite salad.

Note: Some brands of quinoa have a longer cook time. If your brand takes longer than regular quinoa, adjust pressure cooking time to 4 minutes. In this case, skip using vegetables like cauliflower that turn to mush in that long.

How to Customize Quinoa Vegetable Biryani Pilaf

This veg biryani 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 Quinoa Shrimp 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 Quinoa Chicken Biryani.

If using chicken, I would skip vegetables that will turn to mush in a longer cooking time, like cauliflower. use beans, carrots, peppers, potato instead.

Make a Meal: Serving Suggestions for Veg Biryani

We enjoy pairing this quinoa vegetable biryani with cucumber raita (yoghurt dip), or with a quick onion relish.   You can make the onion relish by mixing together sliced onions, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and cayenne!

Cucumber Yoghurt Dip / Cucumber Raita

Tips for a Perfect Quinoa Vegetable Biryani

  • Customize this recipe to your liking. You can add shrimp to this dish and make a Quinoa Shrimp Biryani, following the same timing and directions.
  • If adding chicken to this recipe, add diced chicken and increase the cooking time to 4 minutes.
  • Some brands of quinoa have a longer cook time. If your brand takes longer than regular quinoa, adjust pressure cooking time to 4 minutes.
  • If increasing the cook time, skip using vegetables like cauliflower, that turn to mush in that long. use root vegetables like potato, sweet potato, or bell peppers instead.

More Quinoa Favorites from my Kitchen

More Biryani Recipes from my Kitchen

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below! For more quick & easy recipes, FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram,  Pinterest and Youtube.

Quinoa 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 Vegetable Biryani in Instant Pot

Quinoa Vegetable Biryani is my healthy twist on a popular Indian classic, Vegetable Biryani.  I replace rice with quinoa in this recipe and add vegetables and paneer with a biryani masala mix for a tasty and sumptuous meal.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
NPR: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 3 people
Calories: 499kcal
Author: Aneesha

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or butter or 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. I used cauliflower, bell peppers, and carrots.
  • 1 cup paneer cubed, about 4-5 oz. (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons biryani masala : I use Shan Bombay mix. Adjust based 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 water + 2 tablespoons (adjust to 1.25 cups for extra soft quinoa)

Equipment

Instructions

  • 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).
  • Turn instant pot 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.
  • Add vegetables and paneer, Biryani masala (see 'notes' for substitute for masala blend) and quinoa.  Then, add water and stir well. Top with fried onions, saffron strands and chopped cilantro-mint. Close lid.  Set valve to Sealing. Press Manual (hi) for 2 minutes.
  • After natural pressure release, NPR, open lid. Using a fork, gently fluff the biryani. Serve with raita or your favorite condiment.

NOTES

  • If your quinoa brand takes longer to cook, adjust the pressure cooking time to 4 mins. 
  • 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

Video

Notes

If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.

Tips for a Perfect Quinoa Vegetable Biryani

  • Customize this recipe to your liking. You can add shrimp to this dish and make a Quinoa Shrimp Biryani, following the same timing and directions.
  • If adding chicken to this recipe, add diced chicken and increase the cooking time to 4 minutes.
  • Some brands of quinoa have a longer cook time. If your brand takes longer than regular quinoa, adjust pressure cooking time to 4 minutes.
  • If increasing the cook time, skip using vegetables like cauliflower, that turn to mush in that long. use root vegetables like potato, sweet potato, or bell peppers instead.
 
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 499kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 86mg | Potassium: 511mg | Fiber: 9g | Vitamin A: 4690IU | Vitamin C: 9.7mg | Calcium: 344mg | Iron: 3.5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Instant Pot Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf, Quinoa Pulao Recipe, Quinoa Vegetable Biryani
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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