Pumpkin biryani

Pumpkin biryani

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(3 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 30 mins Plus soaking

More effort

Serves 10
Serving this spiced Indian rice inside a pumpkin makes for a dramatic centrepiece when entertaining

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal379
  • fat17g
  • saturates10g
  • carbs46g
  • sugars9g
  • fibre4g
  • protein8g
  • salt0.4g


  • large pinch saffron strands



    The stigma of a type of crocus, saffron threads have a pungent and distinctive aroma and flavour…

  • 500g/ 1lb 2oz onion, thinly sliced



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 175g/ 6oz butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 100g/ 4oz ginger, roughly chopped



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • ¾ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom seeds
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg



    One of the most useful of spices for both sweet and savoury

  • 3 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp clove



    A clove is the dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a…

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 blades mace
  • 2 tsp garam masala
    Garam masala

    Garam masala

    gar-am mah-sarl-ah

    Meaning 'warming spice mix', garam masala is the main spice blend used in North Indian…

  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and shredded
  • juice 3 limes



    The same shape, but smaller than…

  • 3 x 1kg/2lb 4oz pumpkins



    Pumpkins are the most famous of all the winter squashes, and are most associated with Halloween…

  • 175ml/ 6oz Greek yogurt
  • 450g/ 1lb basmati rice
  • large handful mint leaves



    There are several types of mint, each with its own subtle difference in flavour and appearance.…


  1. Soak the saffron strands in 4 tbsp hot water and leave on one side for about 30 mins until the liquid turns a deep auburn.

  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Soften the onions in 100g of the butter for 10-15 mins in a covered pan. Give them a stir now and again to stop them catching. Put the garlic and ginger in a small food processor with 3 tbsp water and blend to a paste. Add to the onions and fry for 2-3 mins. Stir in the spices, green chilli and lime juice.

  3. Cut the top off the pumpkins and scrape out any seeds, leaving the flesh and skin intact. Transfer to a roasting tin and spoon the spiced onion mixture into the cavity of each pumpkin.

  4. Put the lids back on the pumpkinscover with foil, and bake for about 1 hr 15 mins – until the flesh is tender when pierced with a knife. Leave to cool slightly. Turn oven down to 160C/140C fan/ gas 2. Scoop the filling and most of the pumpkin flesh into a pan, leaving a thin layer of flesh inside the skin. Stir in the Greek yogurt.

  5. Wash the rice, then soak for 15 mins in enough cold water to cover. Drain, then partially cook the rice in a pan of fast-boiling water for 4-5 mins – it should still have bite to it. Drain in a colander.

  6. Warm the spiced pumpkin mixture and layer it inside the pumpkin shells with most of the rice and a scattering of mint leaves. Finish with a layer of rice on top. Dot the top of the rice with the remaining 75g butter and drizzle each pumpkin with the saffron and soaking liquid.

  7. Pour water into the base of the roasting tin to about 1cm depth. Put the lids on the pumpkins and cover with wet greaseproof paper, then seal the tin with foil. Bake for 1 hr – the rice should now be perfumed and perfectly cooked. Place the pumpkins on a serving plate, gently fluff up the rice with a fork and serve straight from the shells.

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Comments, questions and tips

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30th Oct, 2016
I made this yesterday... I think the recipe could do with a bit more of a crunch.. so adding nuts or vegitable and perhaps even some panner would make this a much nicer dish. Further it needs some salt and pepper seasoning
25th Oct, 2015
I think my limes were too limey. It also needs salt and pepper. Pleasant but not as good as I was expecting.
10th Jan, 2012
we made this when friends came for dinner over the Christmas holidays. Sadly couldn't get pumpkin so used butternut squash and did the final cooking in a casserole dish. It tasted amazing! Definitely one to make again
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5th Nov, 2014
Added small cauliflower florets to the rice, and a layer of cooked lentils, to give it a bit more substance. A bit of effort but SO worth it! Lovely recipe.
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