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Recipes Around the World International Vegetarian Union
African Vegan Recipes
Contributed by Vegetarians and Vegans from around the world
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Vegetable Biryani (South Africa)

From: “The Africa News Cookbook, African Cooking for Western Kitchens”.


  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 chili peppers, crushed into a paste (I will use a lesser amount of chili paste or crushed red pepper flakes) or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (I will use a lesser amount of chili paste or crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (2-inch piece)
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils, pre-soaked
  • 1/2 lb green peas
  • 1/2 lb carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 lb green beans, chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 inches cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint, pounded or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint, pounded
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked (basamati is good)
  • 6 large potatoes, chopped into large chunks
  • 1-2 teaspoon salt
  • 5-6 cups hot water
  • soy yogurt, to serve

In a large, heavy skillet or stew pot, fry the onions in oil until they are golden brown. With a slotted spoon, remove about 1/3 of the slices and set aside.

Add to the pot the ginger, garlic and chili paste, and fry for 5-6 minutes, stirring constantly. Then add the lentils, green peas, carrots and green beans. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes, adding more oil if needed.

Add the tomatoes, spices and mint, and stir for 5 minutes.

Then pour a cup of hot water, cover, and simmer until vegetables are about half cooked.

Add rice, potatoes, salt and another 4-5 cups of hot water (use the lesser amount if your vegetables have created quite a bit of liquid). Cover again, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until rice is done and water is absorbed.

To serve, garnish with the reserved onion slices, and pass around a bowl of soy yogurt as a sauce.