Darjeeling Express Chef Asma Khan’s New Cookbook Celebrates Women and Her Ammu (Mother)

Cookbook author, activist Indian chef Asma Khan is so much more than just being in the kitchen. 

In addition to owning London’s Darjeeling Express and hosting her own online cooking class, YesChef, she uses her platforms to advocate for world hunger, mentoring immigrant women, gender equality, and calling out toxic work cultures in kitchens.

With the release of ‘Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish Your Soul’, The Bengali chef continues to redefine how women are portrayed at home and in restaurant kitchens, with a loving ode to her Ammu (or mother).

Ammu [is] a tribute to these powerful women”, Asma tells Elle Canada, “the sharp things in our lives and the anchors that kept us going in difficult and stormy times. There [are] births, deaths [and] marriages in our culture; food is a very important element of that. That’s what this book really reflects.”

Ammu is filled with 100 dishes that will leave your mouth-watering recipes that have been carefully passed down from generation to generation.

Asma hopes the readers to try her chicken biryani, “Because I’ve worked so hard on getting the recipe right and I [know] people have recreated it” she tells Elle Canada.

According to The Guardian, Asma Khan’s biryani has the power to make you cry — not in the hyperbolic, internet vernacular sense, where food is considered “amazing”, “divine” or “to die for”

Asma also recommends trying out cooking any of the kababs, fish dopiyaza, and prawn malai.

“So much of our food is bastardized into [something that is] super spicy, oily, with cream and butter. If I put [that] much cream and butter in my shoe, it’ll taste nice! Our food is actually light and refreshing, but most people don’t associate those words with Indian food.” 

As the only female-founded, all-female kitchen cooking Indian food globally, she hopes that the next generation of women would surpass her, “That will be my greatest victory.”