Inside Asma Khan’s Kitchen

6th July 2017

Interview: Sudi Pigott
Photographs: Dan Dennison

The chef-owner of Darjeeling Express on homemade tamarind water, metal spoons from India and her two favourite South Asian cookbooks


Yayla yogurt »
“This Turkish brand is very good quality and I use a huge amount. It works very well to hang, as only a little water comes out. My grandmother taught me to use yogurt to thicken dishes. I also use it in the steamed Bengali yogurt dessert bhapa dol on our menu at Darjeeling Express.” – Asma

Chaokoh coconut milk »
“I find this brand works really well in my dishes as it is not too thick nor too rich.”

Cassia bark »
Asma uses cassia bark when cooking rice for our lunch, judging it to be much more fragrant than cinnamon.

Tamarind water
“We always make our own tamarind water, which makes a huge difference. We use fresh tamarind crushed and soaked overnight with chilli and Himalayan pink rock salt.”

Fudco Spanish saffron »
“My biggest extravagance is buying saffron – Fudco do the most beautiful Spanish saffron.”


Hand-beaten metal spoons
“Stirring is key to putting movement in a dish. I have a lot of spoons from India that I use all the time.”

Asma has a special wooden paddle with a cross at the end for making dal, using it to gently break up the lentils. It works by simply agitating it back and forth between the palms.

Pestle and mortar
A massively heavy stone pestle with a shallow, curved mortar, for crushing garlic and ginger. “It weighs a ton. I insisted my husband carry it back from India.”

A flat iron plate for toasting cumin to the most incredible pungency.


Indian Cookery, Sameen Rushdie »
“An excellent cookbook which is out of print though available online. Born in Bombay, Rushdie (a relative of the novelist) moved to Pakistan with her family after partition and ended up marrying a Bengali. Her books are excellent, a great reflection of her South Asian cooking heritage.”

Prashad: Cooking With Indian Masters, J Inder Singh Kalra »
“A brilliant selection of regional Indian foods.”

On The Side, Ed Smith »
“This book really appeals to me as he has some inventive and delicious ideas and I agree that the side orders should be accorded equal status as main dishes.”

Posted 6th July 2017

In Things


Interview: Sudi Pigott
Photographs: Dan Dennison

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