Hi Foodwala’s… Welcome to another tale of Alfie Foodwala.
I have always wondered where the oft-used term
“Standing on the shoulders of giants” came from.
Funnily enough, it originates from a 12th Century thinkerwala, John of Salilbury who said…
“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”
in a nutshell what it alludes to is what we achieve more and further by building on the achievements of previous great and influential people.
Why is this relevant?
let me indulge…
I was on another of Alfie Foodwala’s famous wanderings in the big smoke and I stumbled on Darjeeling Express, the story of Darjeeling Express and particularly the chef patron Asma Khan is very interesting, Ms Khan who is actually a lawyer loved food and cooking so much she started to cook for her friends at home and one thing led to another and that evolved to supper clubs and manifested itself into a restaurant as she outgrew her dining room.
Asma Khan, caught the attention of Chefs Table on Netflix and rest is as we say… history.
As with the case with Avant Garde chefs, they look down and downplay the achievements of the great men and women who came to the UK in the 60’s and 70’s and opened restaurants on what can only be said in very hostile and challenging market conditions.
However, it was refreshing to hear Asma giving the early pioneers credit in making her journey easier and how she is indeed was “standing on the shoulder of giants” and in particular reference to Mr Ali of the Shish Mahal who first invented the Chicken Tikka Masala.
The dining room of Darjeeling Express is compact, it feels intimate without feeling claustrophobic
We kicked off the proceedings with some pre appetiser, Dahi Vada.
Dahi Vada is a street food snack originated in the Indian subcontinent and is medallions of fried Urid Dall fritters topped with sweet creamy buffalo yoghurt and topped with roasted spices, Sev(fried chickpea noodles) and in my case, I prefer it Punjabi style so with some chopped green chillies.
The Dahi Vada was delicious and light with the clear tasting of the individual elements, if cooked with a less delicate hand it can be stodgy and unappetising.
These King Prawns were heavenly, the Prawns were cooked without making them rubbery, even although they were out of the shell, the Prawns were sauteed in garlic and dried chilli tarka
the flavour notes were fantastic, subtle smokiness with a slight sweet afternote.
The venison Kofta was indeed a novel take on Kofta.
The Venison was rich and earthy with a slightly sweet nutty taste, possibly from the diet of the deer, the Shikar Masala shorba was subtle, delicate, smooth and rich and perfectly seasoned.
The second indulgence was the Lamb Keema with Spinach Leaf and ground Talichery Black Pepper…one word Yummy
The mince was moist yet not greasy it was light without being under seasoned.
In Conclusion, Ms Khan has disrupted without being a disruption, her take on her native Calcutta was heartwarming, her team of all female chefs was groundbreaking, the subtleness of the female hand was evident in the cooking.
I had an amazing afternoon having my taste buds teased and tantalised.