Make Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's red cabbage and cashew biryani

Biryani so banging, you'll forget that there isn't even any meat in it. Give Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie-friendly dish a go for an easy, flavoursome meat-free meal

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's red cabbage and cashew biryani; photography © Simon Wheeler

Serves 5-6

Preparation time 35 mins

Cooking time 45 mins

This dish, a red cabbage and cashew biryani from veg champion and all-round anti-food-waste hero Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, is a super simple and versatile recipe to make at home. If you can't source some of the ingredients, white or firm green winter cabbage works well instead of red cabbage and skin-on almonds are a great substitute for cashews.

You can grind your own spices for this generous, all-in-one Indian-inspired veggie rice dish, or use a good ready-made curry paste for an easy option.


  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut or rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 medium-large leek (200–250g), halved and thinly sliced
  • ¼ red cabbage (about 300g), cored and shredded
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 250g white basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 125g cashew nuts
  • 100g raisins
  • Sea salt

For the spice mix

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4 cardamom pods, seeds extracted
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric


  • 3 tbsp ready-made mild-medium curry paste

To finish

  • 2 mild red chillies, deseeded and sliced
  • Chopped coriander (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Have ready a large, wide, flameproof casserole with a well-fitting lid.
  2. If preparing your own spice mix, put the casserole over a medium heat, add all the whole spices and toast them gently for 2–3 minutes until fragrant. Take off the heat and grind the spices coarsely using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Mix with the turmeric and set aside.
  3. Return the casserole to a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the onion, garlic, leek and cabbage. Cook gently, stirring regularly, for about 10 minutes, until the veg are softened and reduced in volume. Add the freshly prepared spice mix, or bought curry paste, and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring a few times.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the coconut milk gently in a saucepan with 300ml water until smoothly amalgamated.
  5. Add the rice, cashews and raisins to the veg. Add 1 tsp salt, or if using a ready-made paste that already includes salt, just ½ tsp. Stir well so that everything is thoroughly combined.
  6. Pour on the warm diluted coconut milk and stir well. Make sure the ingredients are level in the dish, then bring up to a simmer. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven and check that the rice is tender (if not, give it another 5 minutes). Then cover the dish again and leave it to stand for 5–10 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and fluff up the rice a little with a fork. Scatter over some red chilli and coriander, if using, then serve. This is really good with a spoonful of chutney on the side.