Casual Indian eatery from Asma Khan
Darjeeling Express is owned by Asma Khan whom some of you may have first seen via the Netflix food programme Chef’s Table. Her approach is unique in that her entire staff is recruited as female only and she has created a casual and down to earth restaurant serving Indian food that have been favourites of hers whilst growing up in Calcutta and are a mix of Indian and Bengali cuisine. Although my meal was £49, you could easily have a modest supper here for half that price and be sated and content. The food is satisfying and aside from the rather lovely and unique location it sits in (see full review and photos), this is a zippy restaurant with pleasing Indian dishes.
My meal started with Tangra prawns which is Asma Khan’s nod to her home town. The now Kolkata is the only city in India with a Chinatown where she enjoyed these hot and spicy prawns with chilli and garlic. These were super – the prawns being supple and cooked well and although quite fiery, the flavours were crisp-clean.
Murgh ka Saalan was my main choice which were boneless chicken thighs cooked with dill and tomatoes. The chicken thighs fell apart and the rich, tomato-based sauce with dill was a new combination for me in an Indian restaurant and I thought worked well. Lemon bastami rice was nice and fluffy. The pomegranate was a welcome addition for the heat. The dhal was fine but not as viscous and rich as when using darker lentils but most of this is personal preference when this watery in comparison.
The Puris (bread) was wonderfully done. Air trapped inside retaining moisture and had a lovely, stretchy texture when being pulled apart. This bread is just plain flour, water and seasoning then fried and is remarkably simple and enjoyable. Gajjar ka Halwa is a carrot-based dessert garnished with pistachios and served with cream whose wet sponge created mild happiness but not the favourite of the meal. To finish, a Masala chai was absolutely superb and probably the nest one I have had since the unfortunately closed Darbaar which, I thought was the reigning champion of hot Masala chai. This alone is a lovely new discovery to find a worthy replacement for this title and I had serious food envy when looking at another table’s coconut prawn curry main being delivered.
Therefore, I will definitely be popping back in here to getting this with the puris and a Masala chai as one of the upper echelon (comfort) Indian restaurant options available in London right now. I am now prepared for the slightly hectic and fast-paced affair that it is, but this is very much recommended and booking in advance for any party above 1 is strongly recommended as it is extremely popular.
Food Grade: 68%
Location (Click google logo for directions)