Food: Darjeeling Express

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Two of my closest friends are also Pisces so we had a little Pisces dinner to celebrate our recent birthdays earlier this week. We headed down to the Darjeeling Express which is an Indian pop-up restaurant at Soho boozer The sun and 13 Cantons.

The pub itself was busy when we arrived just after 7pm, crammed with young professionals having after work drinks. We fought our way to the room just off the back and managed to scoop a table as some people were leaving. The back room was lined with tables on both sides, very sleek with large mirrors covering the walls, dimly lit and loud with chatter.

And nobody was eating.

We had to go to the bar to enquire about food. And then Asma Said Khan appeared.

Despite clearly being in a busy, noisy pub she immediately made us feel like we had just popped over to her house for dinner. My friend Coco had done her research and asked a few questions so Asma told us her amazing story. She had been unable to cook when she first moved to the UK and when she grew tired of eating her husbands chicken curry every day, headed back to India to learn. There she learned techniques from an assortment of Indian women who were eager to teach her everything they knew. It was an insight into Indian culture as she explained none of the women in her immediate family could teach her to cook as this skill signified that you couldn't afford staff. Now she has learned all the tricks there are to know, her grandfather is keen for her to cook for him as she is the only one who can make all the dishes her grandmother used to!

Asma gave us some extra treats as we were the only ones ordering and talked us through the dishes as they came out. Samosas for Coco first up.

When Coco commented on how they weren't greasy Asma told us it was because she used steak and that traditional Indian cooking isn't actually greasy because they use good quality cuts of meat over there. The samosas also came with their own tamarind chutney that was very yum.

Lyron and I were gifted onion fritters with chopped coriander that were sooo light. Asma let us in on her secret; she uses less flour so you enjoy more onion and less batter so again less oily and a perfect crunch.

The starters we actually ordered arrived next, spicy potato patties with chutney and masala fries with chilli and coriander dressing.

The Masala fries were like spicy potato wedges and the chilli and coriander dressing was delicious.

For main course Lyron went for Bengali Aloo Dam with Paratha and tomato prune and apricot chutney. The bread was light and fluffy and the chutney was delectably sweet.

Coco and I both went for the Prawn Malaikar with Lemon rice, which was served mild but with an extra spicy kick if you wanted. The lemon rice was fragrant and you could really taste the coconut milk in the sauce.

The prawns were so tender...I almost didn't realise they still had their shells on!

The adorable Asma then said that she and her sister were just making some darjeeling tea upstairs and would we like to try some? So of course we did. I like to think the smell of our food also enticed the group behind us to make an order.

Asma is so warm and hospitable, chatting away and explaining everything, and the food was soo delicious it's a shame more people weren't eating the food. The Darjeeling Express is at The Sun and 13 Cantons until mid April so Shanika Says go get some great traditional Indian food before it's gone!

1 comment:

  1. I am drooling, this food looks amazing! Especially those wedges xx