A Simple Vegetarian Dish to Cook at Home From Chef’s Table Star

Asma Khan’s focus is on family and community rather than fine dining and she has garnered an international reputation for her London restaurant, Darjeeling Express, where the kitchen is filled with immigrant housewives rather than professional chefs.

The food, inspired by Asma’s memories of growing up in Kolkata, is bigger on flavor than finesse. And yet Asma is the only U.K.-based chef to have been featured on the Netflix show Chef’s Table, which has highlighted some of the giants of the culinary world.

If you want to try Asma’s cooking, you are out of luck at the moment. Darjeeling Express closed for the coronavirus lockdown and she has no plans to reopen it, even when that lockdown is eased on July 4. She is looking for a new site.

“I am not opening because I need to protect my staff and that is my priority,” she says in an interview. “I can’t morally ask my staff to come and work. If someone asked my child to come into work I would just be so anxious. I can’t do that to someone else.”

The good news is that here’s a chance to try one of Asma’s dishes. She is sharing with Bloomberg a recipe for dal, a vegetarian Indian stew made with lentils and spices. Most of the ingredients are available in stores, though I did have to order the split yellow mung dal online. The recipe serves four.

Ingredients  for the dal:

225 grams (8 ounces) of mung dal lentils

2 tbsp ghee or oil

1 tsp chili powder

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

 100g fresh spinach leaves (or kale)

For the tempering:

2 tbsp ghee or oil

2 dried red chilis

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 small onion sliced into half moons


This dal goes well with rice or any kind of Indian bread. It freezes well. 

Richard Vines is Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines.


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