- 1 About Asma Khan.
- 2 The Team of Darjeeling Express.
- 3 Darjeeling
Express and the Calcutta Food connection.
- 3.1 The Restaurant.
- 3.2 The Food in Darjeeling Express.
- 3.3 The Biryani Supper Club.
- 3.4 The Verdict
- 3.5 Share this
- 3.6 Like this:
Darjeeling Express – Curry is big business in Britain and it is believed, that there are more Indian restaurants in London than in Mumbai. London is home to some of the best Indian restaurants, with 5 of them being listed within the 67 Michelin Starred (2020) restaurants. Making your mark in such a competitive and large market is not easy but one name has managed to attract a lot of attention in the last 2 years – Darjeeling Express and the lady behind it Asma Khan. So let’s find out more about Darjeeling Express – London & Chef’s Table – Asma Khan
The first I heard about Darjeeling Express was when I watched it on one of my favourite Netflix series – Chef’s Table. Straight away I was hooked onto it and could not wait to experience it myself. What a powerful story about a woman who migrated to this country, worked with like minded women and found her way into world of food in a city like London.
Asma Khan is the first chef from Britain to appear on the popular award winning series Chef’s Table on Netflix. Now that is an achievement when you consider she did not have a professional chef’s background and started her journey with a dinner of 12 guests in her dining room.
About Asma Khan.
Asma hails from a royal background in Indian and moved to Cambridge in 1991 to join her husband. She completed a law and went on to do a PhD in British Constitutional Law from King’s College London.
As a passionate cook she registered her food business and started a supper club from her residence in Kensington. This was followed by a pop up in Soho and she finally opened her restaurant Darjeeling Express in the heart of London in 2017.
The Team of Darjeeling Express.
What strikes you most about Darjeeling Express is the all women team behind the kitchen. These are mainly housewives with a passion for food and have been working together since day 1.
Darjeeling Express and the Calcutta Food connection.
The restaurant is located in the heart of London in Kingly Court of Carnaby Street. Kingly Court is a 3 storey alfresco food and dining haven in the heart of London and attracts food lovers from all over the world and London.
The restaurant is located on the top floor with an open kitchen where you see the magic happening. Earthly coloured and cosy it gives you a feel of the close knit staff and management. With limited seating it is one to book in advance to avoid disappointment.
The Food in Darjeeling Express.
The menu at Darjeeling Express is a true reflection of Asma’s Mughlai ancestry and Calcutta street food. Being born and brought up in Calcutta myself could relate to the menu and couldn’t wait to taste the food. From the popular street food of Calcutta like Puchka and papri chat to the nawabi dishes like Dum Biryani it is a food paradise.
The menu also reflects some of the more traditional culinary delights of Bengal like the Mutton Kosha Mangsho and Beetroot Chop. Please check the menu on the website as these may change from time to time.
Is Darjeeling Express suitable for vegetarians? Yes. There are vegetarian options as well on the menu so it is suitable for vegetarians.
The Biryani Supper Club.
What got me most existed about Darjeeling Express, when I watched it on Chefs Table was – The Biryani Supper Club. Being a Calcutta Biryani fanatic myself I could not wait to get to the supper club.
Asma hosts a supper club twice a month on a Saturday and the highlight of this is the Kolkata style Lamb Dum Biryani (with potato).
Biryani – The word ‘biryani’ is derived from a Persian word, birian, which means fried before cooking. A popular rice dish with its origin among the Muslims from the Indian Sub-Continent. A dish that resonates with celebrations and festivals. It is made with rice, Indian spices and any meat (chicken / lamb / fish/ goat).
Did you know there are over 50 different types of Biryani in the world? The most popular ones are:
- Lucknowi, or Awadhi.
- Kolkata Biryani.
- Hyderabadi Biryani.
- Malabar Biryani.
- Thalassery Biryani.
- Ambur Biryani.
- Memoni Biryani
- Dindigul Biryani.
The Biryani Supper Club Experience – Darjeeling Express – London & Chef’s Table – Asma Khan
Some come here for the food and some for Asma’s stories. It is a great experience where you get a bit of history about her food – which comes from recipes from undivided India and have been in her family for generations.
In her words – “I cook the food of Western Uttar Pradesh, which is where my paternal family hails from, Calcutta, my birthplace, and Hyderabad, a city I lived in for five years.
Menu of the Biryani Supper Club
Starters – Onion Bhajia / Shikhampuri Lamb Kebab on a fluffy Paratha followed by Puchka or Pani puri.
Mains – Lamb Dum Biryani with Beetroot Raita and Mirchi ka salaam. Desert – Suji ka Halwa (Semolina sweet dish). Darjeeling Express Bar – It has a bar that serves a wide variety of beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) To finish it off – the good old Indian Chai.
The Dum Biryani is brought out to the seating area in a sealed pot and opened in front of the diners. As she opens the lid – the room is filled with fragrances of exotic Indian spices and saffron. Biryani is served on your table and is practically unlimited servings.
A perfect reflection of the Indian Hospitality where you sit together and share platters of food as a family. It is what she calls a Daawat (Urdu word for a celebratory feast for a large number of people)
It was one of the most amazing food experience I have had and if you are a Biryani enthusiast then this is surely one to add to your list. Add the stories and a chat with Asma and it becomes an unforgettable afternoon.
Quite rightly she said – You may forget the Biryani but you will remember the stories and the experience of the Biryani Supper Club.
There is a long wait to join the supper club so get on that list now – Experience the magic of Darjeeling Express and Asma Khan.
If you loved Asma’s Story why not read about another master chef – Ivan Orkin – The Best Ramen in New York .
Fun Facts about Darjeeling Express – London & Chef’s Table – Asma Khan
- Darjeeling Express offers free use of the premises on Sundays to women who are aspiring chefs to host supper clubs.
- Asma was named as one of the 100 most influential women in UK hospitality list.
- Second Daughters Fund a non-profit organization that encourages families in India to celebrate the births of second daughters is supported by Asma Khan.
- Her debut cookbook – Asma’s Indian Kitchen – is a collection of authentic Indian recipes and won the World Gourmand prize for best Indian cookbook in 2018.
- Evening Standard, Daily Mail and the Financial Times have hailed the food at Darjeeling Express.
- Filming for Asma’s episode of Chef’s Table took twenty days – ten in India, and ten in the UK.