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    Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed

    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.

    Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed
    Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed

    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
    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.

    Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed


    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Servings: 6


    Meat Preparation

    • 10 oz lamb or venison
    • 2/3 C natural yogurt
    • 1 tsp Salt
    • 1 tsp Cumin
    • 1 tsp Chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tsp ginger paste
    • 2 onions peeled and sliced
    • vegetable oil for frying
    • 3 – 4 green chilies copped
    • 2 leaves sprigs fresh corianderchopped

    Rice Preparation

    • 2 cups basmati rice
    • Cardamom Pods
    • 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
    • 6 Cloves
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tsp cumin seed
    • 2 tsp Salt
    • 3 tbsp ghee or butter melted
    • 1 – 2 tbsp tsp saffron disolved in 6milk


    Meat Preparation

    • Mix all first group ingredients and marinate for a minimum of 1 hour, preferably overnight.
    • Mix the onions, chopped chilies, and coriander in a bowl.
    • Fry onions in plenty of oil, until brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels.
    • Put the meat and marinade into a large casserole or roasting pan
    • Put 1/2 the onion, chilie, coriander mix onto the meat mixture, reserving the remainder for the end.

    Rice Preparation

    • Put the washed rice into a separate saucepan with plenty of water to cover.
    • Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms. bay leaf, cumin and salt.
    • Bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes, until rice is partially cooked. Assembly
    • Pour the steaming rice over the meat after making sure to drain excess liquid.
    • Sprinkle with the remaining fried onions, chilies and coriander.
    • Make a few holes in the rice going down to the bottom of the pan by poking through with the handle end of a wooden spoon, to allow steam to escape.
    • Pour saffron milk over the entire mixture, distributing as evenly as possible.
    • Sprinkle with lemon juice and ghee (or melted butter).
    • Cover and cook in oven for 45 minutes.


    The rice will cook from the moisture in the meat, milk and yogurt. Serve Biriyani from one end of the pan, mixing meat and rice together. Serve with vegetable dish, or do what I do and toss some spiced vegetables on top of the rice in the last 10 minutes of cooking and put the lid back on…quickly!
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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