Butternut Biryani

Sweet, spicy, filling, full of flavour and vitamins. Butternut squash if rich in potassium and vitamin A.  Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant required by the body to maintain healthy skin and is also essential for optimum eye sight.  Half a medium squash weighs approximately 200g (7 ounces ) and each portion of this biryani provides over 300% of the RDA.


Ingredients serves 2

a tablespoon of olive oil

a red onion, chopped

a one inch, (2and 1/2cm) piece of ginger, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

half a teaspoon of dried cumin seeds

half a teaspoon of dried coriander

2 teaspoons of turmeric

a tablespoon of dried chilli flakes (this makes it medium hot, adjust to taste)

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons of tomato puree

half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed (you can roast the other half with the seeds for half an hour to have with pasta another time)

150g (5 ounces) of spinach

150g (5 ounces)  brown basmati rice

200ml (7 fluid ounces) of coconut milk

200ml (7 fluid ounces) of vegetable stock (or water)

2 tablespoons of flaked almonds

a tablespoon of raisins

2 bay leaves


Preheat the oven to 200C (400F, gas mark 6)

Sweat the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil on a low heat for 5 minutes, add the ginger and the garlic, stir and cook for another three minutes

Add salt and pepper and stir in all the spices

The mixture will now be quite dry.  Add the spinach and tomato puree, stir and add the butternut squash

Scrape half of the mixture into an oven proof dish (if you have one with a lid that fits tightly use this, if not use foil)

Scatter over half the rice and then half of the almonds and raisins

Put the rest of the vegetables on top and scatter over the rest of the rice, almonds and raisins.  Top with the two bay leaves

Pour the vegetable stock and coconut milk into the pan in which the vegetables were cooked, stir and bring to the boil

Pour over the rice and vegetables, put the lid on tightly or tightly wrap with foil.  Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the rice is cooked and the liquid has mostly been absorbed.  For the last 5 to 10 minutes cook with the lid off so the top becomes golden and slightly crisp