Basmati Rice & Curry Casserole (Chana aur Sarson ka Saag Biryani)

Basmati Rice & Curry Casserole (Chana aur Sarson ka Saag Biryani)

9 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2008

Biryanis are rice-based casseroles that combine a saucy meat, vegetable or legume curry with basmati rice, whole spices, nuts and raisins. This particular dish is a nutritional powerhouse, thanks to the mustard greens and chickpeas. Look for the specialty spices—cardamom pods, saffron and garam masala—in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets or online at

Ingredients 6 servings

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Original recipe yields 6 servings
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  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large red onion, ½ coarsely chopped and ½ thinly sliced
  • 3-5 fresh green chiles, such as Thai or serrano, stemmed
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup white basmati rice, preferably Indian or Pakistani
  • 1 bunch (8 ounces) mustard greens, tough ribs removed, leaves finely chopped
  • 8 ounces cauliflower, cut into ½-inch florets
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Puree tomatoes, chopped onion and chiles to taste in a blender, scraping down the sides as needed, to make a smooth sauce.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add raisins and cashews and cook, stirring, until the raisins are plump and the nuts are lightly brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  3. Add cumin seeds, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour in the pureed tomato mixture (it may spatter) and reduce heat to medium. Stir in garam masala, ¾ teaspoon salt and turmeric. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, place rice in a medium bowl. Cover with water. Gently rub the rice through your fingers to wash the grains. (The water will become cloudy.) Drain. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear. Then cover the rice with cold water and let it sit for 20 minutes. Drain.
  6. Stir mustard greens, cauliflower, chickpeas and 1 cup water into the tomato sauce. Cover and remove from the heat.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  8. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the drained rice and saffron, and carefully stir (it may spatter) to coat the rice with the saffron. Add the remaining 1 cup water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir once to incorporate the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, until the water has evaporated from the surface and craters are starting to appear in the rice, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  9. Spread half the chickpea curry evenly in the prepared baking dish. Spread the rice mixture on top of the curry. Spoon the remaining chickpea mixture over the rice. Scatter the reserved raisins and cashews over the top. Cover with foil. Bake until the rice is tender, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks before serving.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 1 cup
  • Per serving: 333 calories; 11 g fat(1 g sat); 7 g fiber; 54 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 78 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 11 g sugars; 1,694 IU vitamin A; 59 mg vitamin C; 95 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 520 mg sodium; 674 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (98% daily value), Vitamin A (34% dv), Folate (20% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 1½ starch, ½ fruit, 2 vegetable, 2 fat

Reviews 9

July 01, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Definitely making again This was delicious! I cooked the rice a little longer on the stove (a full 8 minutes) and added maybe an extra 1/3 cup of water during that process. I also put all of the rice at the bottom of the baking dish, unlike layering it like the directions say to. I had read on some reviews about the rice not cooking thoroughly and extra water sitting on the bottom of the pan but unable to reach the layered rice, so I was proactive about it and did the rice first. It's a delicious meal. If you like spice, you can use whatever hot peppers you want (unless you care about being 100% traditional with your ingredients). I used 3 small hot chili peppers, which is what I happened to have on hand, and next time with use maybe 6 - 8 so I can have more of a pop. The 3 peppers alone didn't even grant a mild taste, in my opinion. Pros: Delicious!!! Cons: none
February 03, 2011
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By: food
Takes time, but it's worth it My family thought this was very good. We have a spice averse kid- we used 2 serrano peppers, and it was too hot for her. The rest of the family tolerates heat better, and we only felt a mild tingle. I thought the flavor of this was great, though I bumped up the garam masala to 2 tsp. The rice boiled very quickly, making craters after only 3 minutes. I was worried that it was cooking too quickly, so I did not boil it for the full 5-8 minutes. It was fully cooked after being in the oven for 40 minutes, but it was soaking for more like 30 minutes instead of 20, so the soaking time may have an impact on the cooking time. The finished dish was wonderful- the cashews added great flavor and texture, the mustard greens were not at all bitter or overpowering, and the raisins added a great sweetness. This recipe takes a while to prep, and it's not a simple one-pot clean up, but I thought it was fantastic, and we'll be making it again. Pros: Tasty, filling, flavorful Cons: Uses several pans, time consuming, too spicy for some
November 14, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
i thought it was ok. not perfect but good
September 30, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
We did not like this. We love Indian food and one of my personal favorites is biriyani but it was a no go for us. It was just kind of bland, and what flavor it did have was weird. We ended up throwing the whole thing out which we almost never do. It was a waste of saffron and cardamom - both are which are NOT cheap spices. Sad especially because I really wanted to like this.
August 28, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
This recipe is worth the time it takes to make. My husband said that it was better than anything he's had from a restaurant! The only change I made was subbing spinach for the mustard greens because I find them too bitter.
June 05, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
Love this dish! However, when following the directions, the rice is always seriously undercooked, ironically with excess liquid in the bottom of the pan--because the rice is placed atop a layer of vegetables. My solution: cook the rice in the saucepan--covered, not uncovered--for 8 minutes. Spoon all the rice into the bottom of the baking pan first, then cover it with the vegetables. This puts the rice in the bottom of the baking dish where the liquid is.
September 21, 2009
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By: EatingWell User
The recipe looked tasty, but the finished product is absolutely delicious. I used 2 Hatch Green Chile Peppers instead of the serrano and the result is faintly spicy. I substituted brown raisins for gold as well, as I couldn't find the gold, and I used 3/4 cup raisins instead of 1/2 and also a few more cashews than the recipe really called for. GREAT recipe! It's my dinner for this upcoming week, but I'd love to make it for guests one of these days. Dorothea
September 21, 2009
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By: EatingWell User
This was a little time consuming to prepare and took about 1 hr 45 mins from start to finish. Next time I will make this on the weekend and freeze half. The recipe is very good and healthy tasting - the cashews and raisins add a nice touch. I did increase the amount of salt since it seemed a little bland. Tastes even better the next day after the flavours have had a chance to meld. leflambeau, Chicago, IL
September 21, 2009
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By: EatingWell User
The complex flavors in this dish are wonderful. I found it impossible to find the cardommon pods once cooked and couldn't remove them. Now I crush them before adding them to this dish. Ilene, Carlsbad, CA
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