Iraqi Biryani

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Prep time30 minutes
Cooking time30 minutes
Total time1 hour


This recipe came from our Mosaic of Flavor class taught by Suhad Murad, an Iraqi refugee now living in Vermont. In Iraq, Biryani is a festive food, cooked on Sundays and for special occasions. Luckily, it's also reasonably easy to prepare.


1/2 cup
canola oil
2 1/2 cups
1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon
curry powder
1 tablespoon
turmeric, ground
1 teaspoon
cardamom, ground (plus 1 tsp for topping)
1/2 teaspoon
black pepper
1/2 tablespoon
cinnamon, ground
1/2 cup
almonds (slivered)
1/2 cup
2 cups
pasta, vermicelli (broken into 2-inch pieces)
1 cup
peas, frozen
3 cups
rice, white


For the rice:

1. Wash and soak the rice for 10 minutes. In a medium sized pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add salt and spices.

2. Add water, and bring to a boil; then add rice. Cover and let simmer until the rice is done, stirring occasionally. Then, place in a large dish or serving platter.

For the topping:

1. In a medium-sized frying pan, heat another 1/2 cup of oil over medium-low heat. Add almonds and toast them lightly for about a minute. Once toasted, remove almonds, but leave the oil in the pan.

2. Add raisins to the pan of oil and sauté for less than 30 seconds. Then remove them and add them to the almonds.

3. Add the peas to the pan; sauté them and add them to the raisins and almonds.

4. Now, put the pasta pieces in the pan and sauté them until they're light brown, stirring occasionally; then add 1 cup of water to the pasta and let it sit for about 2 minutes, or until it's soft and the water has been absorbed. Then add the topping mixture into the pan, add 1 teaspoon of cardamom, and cook at medium heat for about 5 minutes while continuing to stir. Pour the topping over the rice in the casserole dish and serve hot.