A little girl living in her neighborhood’s “Little India” loves her neighborhood cafe’s biryani, made by the curmudgeonly chef everyone calls “Uncle”. Anni’s family has biryani as a special treat on Fridays, but Anni wishes she could make delicious biryani like Uncle’s; then she could make it every day! Determined to learn how Uncle makes his biryani, Anni sits at Uncle’s cafe with a notepad and a bunch of questions, determined to learn his process and hopefully, his secret recipe.
Anni Dreams of Biryani, by Namita Moolani Mehra/Illustrated by Ghaaya Prabhat,
(Sept. 2022, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781542030410
Author Namita Moolani Mehra and illustrator Chaaya Prabhat bring the sights and scents of a neighborhood to life with this delicious story of perseverance. Digital artwork and bright colors show a bustling, diverse neighborhood. Anni, her family and Uncle, are brown-skinned; neighbors wear outfits ranging from contemporary shorts and tees to saris to hijab and flowing tunics. The food takes the main stage, with mouth-watering descriptions like “Fluffy and fragrant. Spicy and succulent. Absolutely addictive”; colorful details in the artwork showcase robust cardamom pods, bright saffron threads, and verdant chiles. Anni is cheerfully determined to make her biryani like Uncle’s and surrounds herself with notes and storyboards, envisioning her way to the perfect dish. The story’s positive resolution will encourage readers to keep trying and envisioning success, whether it’s in the kitchen or elsewhere. Back matter includes a note on the biryani dish and a link to a version kids can make (with grown-up help, please!). An absolute feast for the senses!
Namita Moolani Mehra is a children’s book author, cookbook author, and a food and parenting writer. She wrote the children’s cookbooks The Magic Spicebox and Superfoods for Superheroes. Anni Dreams of Biryani is her first picture book. Namita also runs a social-impact business called Indian Spicebox that helps fund hot meals for underprivileged children in India. Namita was born in a remote village in Nigeria, grew up in the UK and India, studied in Chicago, and worked in New York for over a decade. She currently lives in Singapore with her husband and two children. Learn more at www.namitamehra.com, and follow her on Twitter @namstwit.
Chaaya Prabhat is an illustrator based in Chennai, India. She holds an MA in graphic design from Savannah College of Art and Design. She has illustrated several picture books, including Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers, written by Rajani LaRocca. In addition to her books, Chaaya has created illustrations for numerous clients, such as Google, Facebook, Snapchat, the Obama Foundation, the Times of India, and more. Learn more at www.chaayaprabhat.com, and follow her on Instagram @chaaya23.