Vegetable Biryiani

In 1965, the Beatles released their second movie - Help! There is a strong Indian component in the plot. Ringo gets a ring with religious significance stuck on his finger and an Indian sacrificial cult spends the movie trying to retrieve the ring through a variety of humorous methods.

Help! Featuring The Beatles - Blu-Ray

Help! Featuring The Beatles - DVD

In 1966, George Harrison visited India for six weeks and took sitar lessons from Ravi Shankar which fueled the entire band's interest in Transcendental Meditation.

They all traveled to India in 1968 to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Keeping in spirit with this and Paul McCartney's long-term vegetarian lifestyle, we present a recipe for Vegetarian Biriyani.

Time Required:

Prep: 10 m
Cook: 40 m
Total Time: 50 m

The Ingredients:

2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee) or olive oil
1 diced red onion
1 inch cinnamon stick
10 peppercorns (Tellicherry if you can find them, otherwise any kind of black)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

1 diced tomato
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (can be hard to find unless you have an Indian market nearby)
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced potato (russet or similar is fine)
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 cube chicken bouillon (optional but you'll need to add salt otherwise)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red chile pepper (cayenne)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 cups rinsed and drained basmati rice
4 cups water

The Recipe:

Step One: Start the Movie

Help Still 1

Dice your vegetables.

Heat oil or ghee in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in cumin seed, cinnamon stick, and peppercorns; cook until the spices are fragrant, and the cumin seeds begin to pop, about 3 minutes.

Stir in ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the water evaporates - roughly 5 minutes.

Stir in peas, carrot, potato and basil.  Season with chicken bouillon, salt, red pepper, black pepper, garam masala and turmeric.

Stir well, then cover, and cook for 3 minutes.

Pour in 4 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat.


Step Two: At roughly 28:00 when the Beatles start playing You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

Help Still 2
Help Still 3

Once boiling, stir in basmati rice, reduce heat to medium, recover, and simmer for 10 minutes.


Step Three: At roughly 38:00 when the Beatles are goofing around in the snow to Ticket to Ride

Help Still 4
Help Still 5
Help Still 6

Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the rice has softened, 10 to 15 minutes more.


Step Four: At roughly 46:30 when the Beatles are talking to Scotland Yard about the ring

Help Still 7




Add grilled or rotisserie chicken (cubed or shredded) towards the end of Step Two.