Biryanis are traditionally served hot, laden with cooked meats, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Chef Biju Thomas reimagines the dish as a refreshing summer side, starting with cooled basmati rice and an array of dried fruits that puff and crisp in coconut oil. The lentils make it hearty enough for a lunch main and a fantastic alternative to your usual cookout starches.Slideshow: More Biryani Recipes

June 2018


Credit: Jennifer Causey

Recipe Summary

1 hr
20 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Combine lentils, 3 cups water, bay leaf, and 1 tablespoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until lentils are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool.

  • Meanwhile, preheat grill to high (450°F to 550°F). Toss together squash, red onion, curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large bowl. Place squash and onion on grates; grill, uncovered, turning often, until charred and crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut vegetables into bite-size pieces; set aside.

  • Heat 1/4 cup coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-low. Add cashews, and cook, shaking skillet, until sizzling, 7 to 8 minutes. Add peaches, apricots, and papaya, and cook until fruit is puffy and cashews are golden, about 8 minutes. Drain mixture on paper towels, and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

  • Place rice in a large bowl, and use your hands to break up any clumps. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil; season with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine. Gently fold in cooked lentils, squash, red onion, cashews, fruit, and lemon juice; season with pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Fold in cilantro and scallions; garnish with fried onions before serving.