“Lucknow is a city that has been in my consciousness for many years. When I used to work at Radio Scotland I discovered that Lucknow was India’s raciest city, in terms of bizarre secual practices. Apparently there are more orgies in Lucknow than anywhere elseon the sub-continent. The mind boggles. Clearly a city that enjoys such hedonistic sensuality will no doubt have much to offer in terms of food. Where there is the carnal there is invariably the cuisinal…”

Extracted from “Food of the Grand Trunk Road”.

Here is his recipe for saffron phirnee, a delicate and subtle dish. A great way to end a meal.


Serves 4


  • 150g short-grain rice
  • 2 litres of full-cream milk
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom
  • Few saffrond strands
  • Few pistachio slivers, to decorate
  • Gold Leaf, to decorate


Rinse the rice in a colander and soak for one hour. Drain again and then transfer to a food processor or blender. Process roughly until you have a coarse paste (make sure the paste is not too fine).

Bring the milk to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan then add the rice paste and cook until thickened and the rice is cooked. This should take about 10-12 minutes. Add the sugar and cook until it dissolves and then stir in the cardamom and saffron strands.

Pour the mixture into a serving bowl or several small dishes and place in teh refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Serve cold, decorated with pistachio slivers and edible gold leaf.