Trailblazing chef Asma Khan has created a menu of home-style Indian food cooked by her all-female kitchen team
Asma Khan will be a familiar face to viewers of Netflix’s Chef’s Table as she became the first British chef to appear on the series in 2019. The former constitutional lawyer started Darjeeling Express as a supper club for 12 guests, before opening the restaurant in Soho’s busting Kingly Court in 2017.
The affordable menu draws on Khan’s Royal Mughlai ancestry, traditional family recipes, and the busy streets of Calcutta where she grew up. Khan herself is often a presence on the restaurant floor, explaining the stories and inspiration behind each dish. A starter of chilli garlic prawns is influenced by Calcutta, the only city in India with a Chinatown (Tangra) area, and is infused with Indo-Chinese spices.
Puchkas, a street food snack of wheat and semolina shells with chickpeas and potatoes, are filled with tamarind water and eaten in one go, while larger plates include goat kosha mangsho (slow-cooked Bengali goat curry). There’s also plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians, including hyperbadi tamarind dal with tangy lentils.
Khan has made it her mission to support Indian women, and the restaurant is staffed by an all-female kitchen team she has trained. A portion of the profits is also donated to a charity that supports second-born daughters, who are often denied the same opportunities afforded to sons in traditional India.