One of my favourite cookbooks is Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed. Every recipe that I have tried from it is excellent and authentic tasting, rivaling anything I’ve had in the best Indian restaurants I’ve been to.
The book was published in the UK only but ended up here in a stack at the wonderful old Coles bookstore that used to be at Yonge and Charles in Toronto. It has been through many editions, which is always an indication of an excellent book. The cover here is for the book that I personally own, but there are different covers on the other editions.
Mine is from Coombe books. Out of print for many years, copies of this book are shown on Amazon for as much as £50, (or $100CAD, more or less).
Lalita Ahmed Bio (from IMDB.com)
Lalita Ahmed (maiden name Chatterjee) was born in Lucknow, India on November 25th 1939. She worked for All India Radio before moving to London in the 1950s, where she joined the Hindi language department of BBC World Service Radio. She worked as a presenter on Asian programs for BBC television and presented Indian cookery on BBC Pebble Mill. She has also written a number of cookery books. As well as her film roles Lalita has appeared in a number of British television shows.
This Biriyani recipe below is one of my very favourites from this book.
I love chai, but am not a fan of commercial blends, preferring to make my own. This recipe is my personal blend.
Make sure to always buy the freshest spices you can get. They do last quite a while at some level, but you’ll notice the difference as soon as you get something fresh and new. I had this brought home to me last year at SIAL Canada where I tasted spices that were directly off of plantations. The difference between these and my ‘pretty fresh’ spices was dramatic.
Also, be sure that you are using genuine cinnamon, which has many feathery layers curling around each other like a crinoline, where cassia, which can legally be sold as cinnamon, but isn’t really the same thing, has only the single thick layer. There are huge flavour differences, and cassia does not have the health benefits of true cinnamon. I enjoy having the vanilla in the cup as well, but it’s an expensive indulgence and the tea is still good without it. My standard tea for this is orange pekoe, but Earl Grey blends an also be a nice addition.
These instructions in this recipe are for making a single pot of chai, but since the biggest amount of bother with making the tea is getting all the ingredients assembled, I make enough for 20 pots of tea at a time and keep it all in individual snack bags. If you keep pinch pots or small fruit dishes, those are great to use as receptacles for the spices both for containing the ingredients and for preparing the mixtures before putting them into the bags.