I made this microwave vegetable biryani from a Schwartz Biryani mix that has been lurking in the cupboard for some months, so I needed to use it up. Vegetable Biryani is the indian meal I always order at a takeaway and in a restaurant – it’s the nice biryani rice that I like. I wish they’d sell it separately, but it’s not on the menu – and trying to explain that you want the rice, but want to choose a different curry sauce to go with it is often outside of my explaining/language skills, so, over the years, I’ve learnt to just order a biryani and “put up with” whatever curry sauce comes with it! I hoped this microwave vegetable biryani would be a good enough alternative to a takeaway!
I’ve tried a few ready meals that call themselves biryani – and have never found one CLOSE to a proper restaurant biryani. I had high hopes of the Sharwoods frozen lamb biryani, but, yet again, this was a disappointment. I’ve tried a couple of random brands of biryani mix – but, in the main, I’ve just got used to the fact that I cannot buy biryani that “tastes right” anywhere except a proper indian food outlet. So I guess I gave up trying! Then I was “gifted” this packet mix when my sister had a cupboard clear out!
It was for this reason that I didn’t get round to using up this packet of Schwartz biryani mix sooner – but now’s the time, so I read the instructions, changing the recipe and method to make it a microwave vegetable biryani.
The packet mix said it needs to be added to the following ingredients:
- 15 grams butter
- 1 onion, sliced
- 450 grams chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
- 400 grams tinned tomatoes, chopped
- 150ml cold water
- 175 grams basmati rice
- 100 grams frozen peas
Vegetable Biryani: I have some vegetables to use up, so decided to swap out the chicken for the vegetables I had. I notice that newer packs of this biryani mix do suggest you can do this, but I was doing it anyway!
To make this a microwave Vegetable Biryani, I wanted to use up what I had, so, I used:
- 15 grams butter + 1 onion
- 2 medium potatoes + 2 carrots
- 1 tin of tomatoes + 175 grams basmati rice + 100 grams frozen peas
I didn’t bother too much about the weight of the potato and carrots as I was trying to scale back the recipe a little bit on quantity to reduce the leftovers and I didn’t want to make too much the first time in case I didn’t like the taste!
Notice: The water disappeared in my recipe – the 150ml of water in the original recipe is used to cook the rice, I steamed my rice. If you are using a bowl to cook this entire dish in the microwave, then you will need water to cook the rice – I would measure out 150ml but only add 120ml in the first instance, then top up the water as needed throughout the cooking process. You would need a good sized bowl to cook this all in the microwave in one dish – at least 3 litres, 4 litres to give you good stirring space!
Quantity Note: The end result biryani has the capacity to add a LOT more vegetables than I have used here! You could easily double, or more, the amount of vegetables if you wished to.
I usually order Vegetable Biryani, rather than chicken biryani, as meat quantity and quality can be variable at a takeaway, so I have always figured it’s better to just stick with a veggie biryani and save £1-1.50 and not have to worry whether the chicken’s good or bad!
Biryani Recipe Method as the Biryani mix should be made:
- Heat the butter and fry the onion for 5 minutes, until softened
- Add chicken and sachet contents, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes
- Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender
- Fluff rice with a fork and serve
Now – this clearly needed some adjustment because I was going to make this in my microwave oven – but I had a further problem…. as I cook for one person, I don’t actually have a microwave safe bowl large enough to contain this volume of food! So I had to work round that and decided, instead, to use the following method, which involved cooking the rice and vegetables separate to the biryani mix, then combining them.
Microwave Biryani Recipe Method (v1):
- Microwave the rice in a microwave steamer (you can just cook that in a microwave safe bowl, but I don’t have one large enough, so I use my steamer). I cooked the rice on its own for 5 minutes, then added the potatoes (peeled and cut into small chunks) and the carrots (whole on top). Cook the combined rice, potatoes and carrots for a further 10 minutes (in two 5-minute blasts). Once cooked, leave it covered while you do the rest
- Put the peas into a mug and cover with boiling water, so they defrost. After a few minutes change the now cold water with fresh boiling water.
- In a microwave safe bowl or jug, cook the onions in the butter for 4-5 minutes, cooking it for 1 minute at a time and stirring.
- Add half the juice from the tinned tomatoes to the onions, add the packet of Schwartz biryani mix and give it a good stir. Microwave on full power (800 watts) for 2 minutes. Stir and add the rest of the tomato juice and the chopped tomatoes. Microwave for 2 minutes.
- Spoon out the rice and potatoes into a large bowl (any bowl, this isn’t going into the microwave) – chop the whole carrots into small pieces and add those to the bowl. Drain the peas and add those to the bowl. Add the tomato/onion/biryani mix to the bowl and combine everything, now you have a microwave vegetable biryani!
- Now the whole vegetable biryani has been mixed together, simply decant your portion into a microwave safe dish and microwave it for 1 minute on high power!
- Box up the leftovers immediately and put that into the fridge (it’s hot, so well away from anything that needs to be kept refrigerated – my fridge is often mostly empty, so this is never an issue).
Menu Cost 50p:
I was gifted this Schwartz biryani mix, but it can be bought for 50p if you watch for price reductions.
175 grams of basmati rice costs 23p, 100 grams of frozen peas is 7p, 2 carrots is 8p, 2 potatoes is 15p, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes is 31p, 1 onion is 8p. Then there’s a little butter, so I’d round it up and say this costs £1 for the other ingredients, so a total of £1.50 including the cost of the biryani mix packet. However – this serves more than one person. How many people it serves is a tricky thing to answer, so I’ll say that as the main/only food on the plate, this would serve three portions – however, I did start off with a reduced amount of vegetables – if I’d used 450 grams of vegetables this would have stretched further and served 4 portions of microwave vegetable biryani.
Schwartz Biryani Mix Review:
So, how did this taste? You have to remember that I “chucked this together for the first time” today, not following the official recipe. However, in short – I think that it outperformed many indian takeaways I’ve tried. It didn’t give me that “Wow, this is SPOT ON!” feeling of deep joy, but it’s really “close enough” to the biryani taste that I like to be something I will definitely cook again. It is the closest taste to an indian restaurant biryani I’ve tried from any other packet or ready meal I’ve tried to date!
I think, given a bit more time and care, I could get it to taste better – and, who knows, maybe the leftovers I have will taste even better as it’s had time to sit and marinate in its own taste!
I’d give it an 8/10 as it’s “close enough” for the price!
Price Comparison – £3 saved:
If I buy a Vegetable Biryani at my local indian takeaway it costs £6.50, but that comes with an indian curry sauce too. Just to buy the curry sauce costs £3 on their menu – so the indian takeaway (that’s not as good as the Schwartz biryani) charges £3.50 for the biryani rice part.
If I buy a biryani from a supermarket then, again, it’s hit and miss if it’s any good – I’ve yet to eat any supermarket ready meal biryani that is close to the correct taste – and they cost about £2.50 for a 450 gram dish. Indeed, a couple of months ago I tried the Sainsburys Chicken Biryani, costing £2.75 for 450 grams and that wasn’t as good as this packet mix for taste! My biryani, made with the packet mix, weighed probably double this amount!
My home kitchen charges 50p for the biryani rice part. I’m ahead, price-wise, of my alternatives 🙂
When I buy a vegetable biryani from the takeaway it’s hit and miss which vegetables I get. I don’t like mushrooms or broad beans, but I do love potatoes – and it’s disappointing for me when I get served a vegetable biryani that has mushrooms and broad beans and no potato! So, making it myself I am more in control of what veggies are in there!
I’d happily use this biryani spice mix to create my own Fakeaway meal – I’ve always got the option of just picking up a curry sauce from the local indian takeaway if I want a “proper indian curry” sauce. Using this I could reduce the cost of a takeaway from £6.50 down to £3 to buy the sauce +£0.50 by making my own biryani rice.
Can You Freeze the Leftover Biryani?
I boxed up the leftovers into plastic takeaway boxes – I plan to eat the leftovers tomorrow. But, it can be frozen! Simply box up the leftovers ASAP into takeaway boxes and get it into the fridge within an hour of serving, once it’s cooled, move the box to the freezer.
To re-heat from chilled, give the rice a stir to loosen it, then lift the corner of the takeaway box and pop it into the microwave. Microwave on high power (800 watts) for 4 minutes (stirring half way through). Check it’s hot all the way through. To re-heat from frozen, microwave on defrost/low power for 3-4 minutes in 1 minute blasts (stirring between each one) until it’s all defrosted, then microwave on high power for 3-4 minutes until it’s piping hot.
Alternative Biryani Recipes:
I’d like to make another of these – next time I might make a slow cooker biryani to give it time for the flavours to develop – but I’d also like to try a chickpea biryani recipe, which would use a drained tin of chickpeas instead of the chicken. I do like potato chunks in a biryani, so I would use a potato if I had any in the house – and green beans are nice too.
The beauty of using a biryani mix is that you can add in the ingredients you want to use and avoid ingredients you don’t like.
Watch this space! I’m sure there will be more biryani recipes coming next year. Possibly a nice Turkey Biryani at Christmas!