Review | Anni Dreams of Biryani, by Namita Moolani Mehra (illus. by Chaaya Prabhat)

AnniDreamsOfBiryaniThis children’s picture book is absolutely adorable! In Little India is a Biryani Cafe, run by a cranky Uncle who makes the most delicious biryani. Across the street from the Cafe lives Anni, a little girl who loves to cook and dreams of opening her own cafe someday. She’s determined to learn the secret behind Uncle’s biryani so she can make it for herself.

Both the story and the illustrations are super sweet and charming. There are some fun tips that Uncle shares with Anni about cooking biryani: use whole green chilies for one, and probably most important, stop asking questions and go try to cook the dish for yourself!

My only snag is that I wish the book included the recipe for Uncle’s biryani. For admittedly selfish reasons, I also wish that recipe would have included the secret ingredient that Anni says made it so special. But more broadly, I think that especially given Anni’s age, a kid-friendly recipe of how to make biryani yourself (with a grown-up, of course!) would have made this book even more special. The book does explain what biryani is, and it does give us a link to a biryani recipe online, but I think including a recipe on the actual pages would have been the perfect finishing touch.

Otherwise, the book is adorable. I love thinking of all the young aspiring cooks out there who’ll read this and be inspired to figure out the recipes behind their own favourite dishes. And with those descriptions and illustrations, I’m now super craving biryani myself!


Thank you to Thomas Allen for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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