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Indian-Origin Chef Asma Khan Makes Time’s 100 Most Influential List

April 23, 2024

2024 TIME100 LIST: Time Magagine has revealed its 2024 list of the world’s 100 most influential people. There are eight Indians and Indian-origin people on the list, including Alia Bhatt, Dev Patel, Sakshi Malik, and Satya Nadella. Among them is also Indian-born British chef Asma Khan, who runs ‘Darjeeling Express’ in Soho, London. The restaurateur and cookbook writer is famous for her Bengali and Indian Rajput cuisine. 

Writing a testimonial for Asma on Time, Emmy-nominated producer and TV Host Padma Lakshmi shared: “Asma’s food is surprising. It doesn’t taste like restaurant food—and that is the highest compliment.”

Chef Khan’s restaurant has an all-woman kitchen, and most of them are South Asian immigrants over the age of 50 with no formal training. 

“Asma is a ball of energy with a wicked sense of humor. She’s the auntie you would have said was your favorite growing up,” Padma Lakshmi wrote, adding: “Asma is not only interested in doing the right thing, she’s a shrewd businesswoman too.”

Asma has appeared on appclaimed food show Chef’s Table, and has won many awards and recognition. Padma Lakshmi said she was excited for “humble” Asma to start hosting Tiffin Stories, a documentary series highlighting the Indian diaspora food. “She will be a natural host: she’s hospitable, and genuinely cares about people.”

‘Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani’

Born in Kolkata in 1969, Asma Khan moved to England in 1991 after marriage. Cooking became her hobby and passion reportedly after she started missing home food, and the kind of food she grew up eating back home in Kolkata.

After taking cooking lessons from an aunt, she started hosting private supper clubs, which brought her into the limelight.

In an interview to Slurrp in 2022, she said: “Even to my surprise I never felt that the kind of food I cook from home even had any future or would be accepted in the hospitality world.”

She said she never thought of opening a restaurant, but when she did she was sure that it had to be “different”.

“In Darjeeling Express I see all these woman cook like my aunts do at my home in the family did and I have made sure there’s no division and negativity,” she said in the interview.

In a video message shared by the Indian High Commission in the UK, Asma Khan said she may have lived in the West for over three decades now but for her it’s absolutely “phir bhi dil hai Hindustani”.   

“I’m not confused about who I am. I’m not trying to be something I’m not,” she says in the video.

Hometown Kolkata continues to be her favourite place where she feels “every brick knows my name”.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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