Shorba | Biryani Gravy | Sherva Recipe – NewsEverything Food

Dassana Amit
Dassana Amit
15 Min Read

When in India, Shorba might mean a soup with Indian flavors or a gravy that is served with a rice dish like biryani or pulao. This Shorba Recipe is the latter one. Also known as Sherva or Biryani Gravy, it is a spiced, tangy tomato-onion based gravy which goes perfectly with a rich pulao or biryani and brings out the best in them. Yes, the list of ingredients might intimidate you in the beginning. But you don’t really have to do much with them as it is an easy recipe if you just follow the method well. This recipe is also vegan.

shorba gravy served on vegetable pulao on a white plate with a bowl of shorba kept on the right back side and text layovers.

About Shorba

Shorba or Chorba is essentially is an Arabic and Persian term for soups and stews. It can be served as is like a soup or with bread or rice. The word Shorba can also refer to as a gravy.

There are so many variations and ways of making shorba across the Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines.

In India, you will get to see the soupy shorbas like Tomato Shorba and some more made with various veggies. You also find the shorba gravies or stews served with breads or rice based preparations.

The Shorba recipe in this specific post is typically meant for consumption with a main rice dish like biryani or pulao. Hence it is also called Biryani Gravy or Pulao Gravy. You can also pair this tangy gravy with flatbreads.

The consistency of this vegetarian Shorba recipe is also typically thin, more like a gravy or curry, and not a soupy one. If you are looking for a soup on the similar lines, try this hearty and comforting Tomato Soup.

About Biryani Gravy Recipe

I had got a few requests for sharing the recipe of this particular side gravy that is served with biryani. So, I worked on a recipe and posted it on the blog here.

Usually, when I make biryanis at home, Raita is the choice of accompaniment that I prepare with them.

But with certain special biryanis like this Veg Dum Biryani or mainly pulaos, I prepare this Shorba as a side gravy. I feel it is fantastic with pulaos than biryanis.

However, this is just a personal preference, and you can actually opt to make the Shorba or Sherva recipe with whichever rice dish you like.

The main flavors in the Shorba recipe are that of a fine curry paste of spices, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, coconut and mint or coriander leaves used in it, which blend really well with a pulao or biryani.

For the coconut bit, I prefer to use fresh grated coconut. But if you have desiccated coconut and want to use it, feel free to do that.

In this Sherva Recipe of mine, I have used a unique spice – allspice (or kababchini in Hindi). This special spice is also used in the preparation of different kababs and biryanis in Mughlai cuisine.

It is also used in dishes and spice mixes in the Moroccan, Indonesian and even Polish cuisines. However, it is optional and if you can’t source it, just skip it.

This Sherva recipe tastes amazing if you add vegetable stock to it. The day I made this Shorba, I had some veg stock in refrigerator after making Yakhni Pulao. So, I used it in making the Shorba gravy.

It really came out very well. So, if you have homemade stock ready, then I would suggest using it in this recipe. If not, then you can add water.

I have tried this Shorba Recipe both with veg stock and water. With water, the flavors actually change somewhat, but the gravy still tastes good.  

This recipe of Shorba is a slightly spicy version as I usually serve it with the Veg Pulao which is kind of bland in taste. For a less spicy gravy, just reduce the quantity of green chilies and red chili powder.

This is a thin gravy and hence accompanies a veg pulao or veg biryani very well. You can also serve this gravy with a simple peas pulao or potato pulao, or relish it with jeera rice or even plain steamed rice.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Shorba

Make Masala Paste

1. In a grinder or blender jar, take the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chili
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh or desiccated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves or chopped coriander leaves or half-half of both.
roughly chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped green chili, roughly chopped ginger, chopped garlic, grated fresh coconut and chopped mint leaves added to a blender jar for shorba recipe.

2. Blend to a smooth and fine paste, without adding any water. If unable to blend to a smooth paste, then add 1 to 1.5 tablespoons water.

ingredients blended to a smooth paste without adding any water for shorba recipe.

Sauté Spices and Masala Paste

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan.

Add the whole spices:

  • 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 2 to 3 green cardamoms
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 to 4 cloves
  • 2 to 3 all-spice/kababchini, optional
  • 1 or 2 single mace strands
  • 4 to 5 black peppercorns

If you want, you can even skip the black cardamom. Though, adding black cardamom does give a smoky flavor and aroma to the curry.

whole spices added in hot oil in a pan for making biryani gravy.

4. Sauté till the spices are fragrant.

sautéing spices for shorba recipe.

5. Now, add the prepared paste. Be careful as the mixture splutters.

prepared paste added in the pan to make biryani gravy.

6. Stir and mix very well.

paste mixed well with the whole spices.

7. Then, add ground spices listed below:

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder (reduce to ¼ teaspoon for a less spicy gravy)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
spice powders added to the paste.

8. Stir the ground spice powders with the rest of the masala paste.

spice powders stirred well in the masala paste.

9. Stir and sauté the masala on low to medium-low heat till you see oil releasing from the sides of the paste.

The mixture will also gather together and leave the sides of the pan.

sautéing spiced masala paste for shorba recipe.

Make Biryani Gravy

10. Then, add 1 to 1.25 cups of Vegetable Stock.

It’s preferable to add vegetable stock. If you do not have veg stock, then add water.

If making for vegetable biryani, you can also parboil/boil the vegetables that will be added to the biryani and then add this vegetable stock to the gravy.

Adjust the quantity of stock according to the consistency you prefer. For a thin gravy, add more stock or water and vice versa.

adding vegetable stock in the pan.

11. Here we have added the entire vegetable stock.

vegetable stock added to the masala paste.

12. Stir and mix very well.

masala paste mixed well in the vegetable stock.

13. Season with salt.

adding salt in the shorba.

14. Stir and simmer the Shorba gravy on low to medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or till you see specks of oil on top. Switch off the heat.

simmering shorba or biryani gravy.

15. Garnish with chopped mint leaves or chopped coriander leaves, and serve Shorba with vegetable biryani or vegetable pulao.

shorba gravy garnished with mint leaves and served in a black rimmed ceramic bowl with a plate of vegetable pulao kept in the background.

Expert Tips

  1. For the paste, use desiccated coconut, if you don’t have fresh coconut. You can even add half-half both of mint and coriander leaves.
  2. Make sure to grind the ingredients to a smooth paste without adding any water. If in case you are unable to, then add about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons water and then grind.
  3. The kababchini and black cardamom are optional. You can skip adding these spices.
  4. Reduce the quantity of red chili powder if you want less spicy gravy. If you want it spicier, increase it. You can also increase the quantity of garam masala powder in that case.
  5. For best results, cook the gravy in homemade vegetable stock. If you don’t have it handy, then add water.
  6. If you are making a vegetable biryani with this, then you can boil or parboil the veggies that will be added to the biryani and add this stock to the gravy.

More Curry Recipes To Try!

Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more veetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.

shorba recipe for biryani, side gravy recipe for biryani and pulao

Shorba | Biryani Gravy | Sherva Recipe

Shorba or Sherva also known as Biryani Gravy is a spiced, tangy tomato-onion based gravy which goes perfectly with a rich pulao or biryani and brings out the best in them.

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 15 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe

Making masala paste

  • In a grinder or blender, take the following ingredients – tomatoes, onions, green chillies, chopped ginger and garlic, fresh or desiccated coconut and chopped mint or chopped coriander or half-half of both.

  • Grind without adding any water to a smooth paste. If unable to grind without water, then add upto 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of water.

Making shorba recipe

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the whole spices – tejpatta, black cardamom, green cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, allspice (optional), mace strands & black peppercorns. 

  • If you want you can even skip the black cardamom. Though adding black cardamom does give its flavor to the curry.

  • On low heat sauté till the spices become aromatic.

  • Now add the ground tomato-onion paste. Be careful as the mixture splutters. Stir and mix very well.

  • Then add turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder and coriander powder.

  • Stir and mix the spice powders with the rest of the masala paste.

  • Stir and saute the masala till you see oil releasing from the sides of the paste. The mixture will also gather together and leave the sides of the pan.

  • Then add vegetable stock. Its preferable to add veg stock. If you do not have veg stock, then add water. If making the shorba for veg biryani, you can also parboil/boil the veggies that will be added to the biryani and then add this vegetable stock to the gravy.
  • Stir and mix very well and then season with salt.

  • Again stir and bring the curry to a simmer on a low to medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or till you see specks of oil on top.

  • Garnish with chopped coriander or mint leaves. Serve shorba with vegetable biryani or vegetable pulao.

  • For the masala paste, you can use desiccated coconut, if you don’t have fresh coconut. You can also add half-half both of mint and coriander leaves.
  • The allspice and black cardamom are optional. You can skip adding these spices if you do not have them.
  • Reduce the quantity of red chili powder if you want less spicy gravy. If you want it spicier, increase it. You can also increase the quantity of garam masala powder in that case.
  • For best taste and flavor, cook the Biryani Gravy in homemade vegetable stock. If you don’t have it handy, then you can add water. 
  • Adjust the consistency of the Shorba by adding less or more stock or water according to your preferences. 

Nutrition Facts

Shorba | Biryani Gravy | Sherva Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 138 Calories from Fat 99

% Daily Value*

Fat 11g17%

Saturated Fat 2g13%

Polyunsaturated Fat 1g

Monounsaturated Fat 8g

Sodium 716mg31%

Potassium 228mg7%

Carbohydrates 9g3%

Fiber 3g13%

Sugar 3g3%

Protein 1g2%

Vitamin A 779IU16%

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%

Vitamin B6 1mg50%

Vitamin C 11mg13%

Vitamin E 4mg27%

Vitamin K 6µg6%

Calcium 40mg4%

Vitamin B9 (Folate) 15µg4%

Iron 1mg6%

Magnesium 20mg5%

Phosphorus 35mg4%

Zinc 1mg7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Shorba recipe from the archives, originally published in July 2015 has been updated and republished on January 2023.






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