Forget Drake and RiRi ‘Work‘-ing it, Sharukh calling Kareena his Chammak Challo, or Run DMC and Aerosmith imploring you to Walk This Way; what’s real music to my ears is hearing about delicious duet from a pair of my favourite chefs. This theorectically-terffic trio hasn’t happened yet, but there’s no harm in planting the seeds of suggestion… don’t ask, don’t get.
A Taste of Home: Asma Khan X Chinese Laundry
Who they? She, the almost-famous founder of Darjeeling Express. Her heritage Indian family food wooed the likes of Fay Maschler and Tom Parker Bowles at a recent Sun & 13 Cantons residency, and she’ll be soon be popping up anew at 68 & Boston and The Cinnamon Club, along with hosting a charity Ramadan stall at Druid Street market. They, Peiran Gong and Tongtong Ren, twenty-something co-founders of a hip 1980s-themed Chinese joint in Islington.
Why it needs to happen: Calcutta cuisine is a big part of Asma’s repertoire. Historically, that city hosted a community of Chinese immigrant workers – both they and their families hungry for a taste of their homeland. Their culinary improvisations with available ingredients and equipment evolved into the Indo-Chinese dishes that remain perenially popular today – including Hakka noodles, Manchow soup and Manchurian chicken.
Chinese Laundry’s menu is similarly driven by Peiran and Tongtong’s gastric nostalgia for the food the co-founders ate in 1980s China, growing up in the northeast and central regions. With both Asma and the CL girls using their food to open a window onto infrequently-celebrated aspects of their respective food cultures, a collaboration couldn’t fail to be delicious.
The dream dish: Asma’s Nepalese momo dumplings stuffed with Chinese Laundry’s stir-fried aubergines with pulled smoked salmon, with sides of spicy Nepali chutney and Chinese smashed cucumber.
Brindian Comfort: Palash Mitra X Calum Franklin
Who they? Near neighbours… at least when it comes to their place of work. The Rosewood Hotel hosts both Scarfes Bar and Holborn Dining Room; the former serving up ex-Cinnamon Club chef Palash’s arresting, interesting Indian-accented bar bites and full-on feasts, the latter Exec Chef Calum’s classic, excellently-executed British brasserie fare, with the bulk of ingredients sourced via Matt Chatfield’s Cornwall Project. Both chaps had solid starts – Calum in the Michelin-starred kitchens of Kent’s Chapter One, Palash with esteemed Indian hotel groups, Taj and The Oberoi.
Why it needs to happen: Bearing lingering colonial flourishes, many of India’s cuisines are well-versed in comforting British-ish items – and, with bits like chilli cheese’n’onion toasties and chicken tikka burger with red cabbage pickle on his menu, Palash speaks fluent fusion. With his spice advice and Calum’s competent cooking, already-delicious dishes like HDR’s award-winning Monkshill Farm Scotch egg, savoury steamed puddings, and the beef Wellington that hits the oven on #WellyWednesdays could be make extra-enticing.
The dream dish: A spiced-up spin on HDR’s whole-lamb feast, designed for at least six diners.
High Taste, Low Waste: Cyrus Todiwala X Andrew Clarke
Who they? Like Hindu deities, both men have endless avatars. Cyrus is the OBE who’s cooked for the Queen, king of a restaurant mini-empire which comprises Cafe Spice Namaste, Assado, Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen and The Park Cafe, a television chef (most notably as one half of The Incredible Spicemen), a cookbook author who’s just released Mr. Todiwala’s Spice Box, and an ambassador for too many culinary and charitable causes to count.
Andrew, meanwhile is Faye Maschler’s ‘jolly giant‘, the rather rock’n’roll chap behind Rita’s, was formerly at Soho House and Salt Yard, and is founder of the occasional offal-fest that is Glandstonbury. He’s currently adding allure to Vauxhall’s already-attractive Brunswick House Cafe, and his forthcoming duck-centric restaurant, Bastien, is on the radar of every foodie worth their fleur de sel.
Why it needs to happen: Cyrus and Andrew’s backgrounds might be completely different, but these chefs are commonly committed to showcasing seasonal, local produce; respecting an ingredient’s own inherent properties and enhancing them with skill, not fuss – be they fish, fowl or indeed anything else edible. From root to fruit, nose to tail, little is wasted in either’s kitchen, and they share a fondness for offal and other offcuts that are oft-overlooked. Andrew also has an abiding love of South Asian food, occasionally desi-cating dishes at Brunswick House (case in point – this pav-bhaji stuffed brik dosa with peach chutney and coconut yoghurt).
The dream dish: A great big duck-off feast. From Cyrus, complex 21-spiced xacutti; Goosnargh duck sausage; duck tikka a la the Syrian Christian Mrs. Matthews; and a duck version of his recent goose special, taraela papaeta – a Parsi dish of marinated, rolled meat that’s roasted then simmered in a whole-spice gravy, served with potatoes and rice.
From Andrew, these duck, walnut and Chinese sausage wontons. Or this smoked duck ham. Or this Challens duck and foie gras terrine. Or this mallard with foie gras-stuffed pickled prunes, heritage carrots, sprout tops and chestnuts. Or these duck hearts and livers with mash and pickled walnuts Or this Barbary duck, little gem, peas anchovy, celeriac, lemon and capers…. And a duck version of the haleem that makes him so happy.
Hungry for more? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post…
- To read more about Asma Khan’s Indo-Chinese cuisine, click here
- To read more about Palash’s ooking at Scarfes Bar, click here
- To read more about Cyrus Todiwala’s Parsi cuisine, click here