Asma Khan is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most impressive restaurateurs and I was extremely excited to FINALLY be able to eat at her Covent Garden restaurant, Darjeeling Express, back in September shortly before I returned to Asia.
Whilst their evening menu is a set tasting menu, lunch is an A La Carte affair known as the “Railway Lunch Menu” which draws inspiration from Asmas love of the Indian railway journeys of her childhood, with influences from not only Bengal, but all over India.
I was cautious of not ordering anything too heavy (it was lunch afterall) and so we started with a plate of Puchkas from their list of small plates. Puchkas are a famous Indian street snack, made of little crispy hollow wheat puffs that (here at least) are filled with a teaspoon or so of a spiced potato and chickpea mix, garnished with a drizzle of tamarind water. You eat them by popping the whole puchka into your mouth where the outer shell bursts to reveal the zingy tamarind water and soft potato mix – the perfect warm up for the meal ahead.
We then shared 2 dishes from their selection of large plates; Prawn Malai Curry, a Bengali coconut milk based curry scented with ginger, chilli & turmeric (amongst others) as well as Baadami Baingan Aubergine (sic) a Hyderabadi dish made from a base of sesame, coconut, almond, peanuts & tamarind with smoky aubergine, as well as some Paratha (both dishes were served with rice)
I thought all 3 dishes were absolutely fantastic, both of the curries were so different in flavour to the other which made for a delicious contrast and even now, a couple of months later, I’m struggling to decide which of the dishes I enjoyed the most!
Lunch for 2 with a beer and some soft drinks came to around £60 which we agreed was good value for the portion size, quality & location.
I would love to go back to Darjeeling Express in future to try the full evening menu as I imagine there must be lots of new dishes to experience. Darjeeling Express definitely lived up to its “Chefs Table” hype and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys Indian food.
2a Garrick Street
London WC2E 9BH
For all enquiries:
020 7836 8888
Lunch Menu Wednesday to Saturday from 12pm to 4pm (last seating 3pm)
Dinner Menu Wednesday to Saturday 6-11pm (last seating 9:15pm)