Tucked away behind Liverpool Street station, just off Broadgate Circle’s main drag, lies a restaurant where you can get some royally good Desi khana – the sort you’d expect to see served in North India’s ancient noble courts rather than East London.
Darbaar by Abdul is the eponymous ex-Cinnamon Kitchen chef’s first standalone restaurant, and it’s a corker. As worthy of note as the serious grill skills that see Yaseen turning out tandoori treats both ancient and modern are his decadent dals, creamy curries, and sumptuous stews.
And, as Abdul reveals, 2016 has treated him as well as he does his diners…
Your highlight of the year – and why it was so?
Winning Best Newcomer at the British Curry Awards. I think it was very well deserved by the team, and it’s taken Darbaar to the next level of achievement. It’s flagged Darbaar up as a new destination to potential diners, and I’m sure they’ll be chuffed to experience it.
Favourite Indian place you ate at?
Shampan restaurant in Kent, where the scallops are my favourite.
Favourite non-Indian place you ate at?
Yauatcha in the City. I can eat the soft-shell crabs all day.
The fellow Indian foodies who’ve done great things?
Zohra Khaku from Halal Gems has done very well for herself and for her business. The company has now launched a restaurant app, which I think is the way forward in this digital world.
The Indian dish you’ve cooked the most this year?
Butter chicken. It was inevitable, as it’s my guests’ favourite, and is a very popular dish at Darbaar.
Your 2017 plans?
As of now, my focus is on Darbaar City. I want the echo of the restaurant’s theory, values, culture and passion to reach the maximum number of people, so it becomes their chosen destination. It is overwhelming to know that 60% of my guests are regulars. My aim is to continue reaching to out to new diners because everyone deserves Darbaar!
In 2018, I would like to cross to the other side of the Thames, because quite a few of our regulars are from South London and I would like to take Darbaar to them.
Who would you crown your Indian chef of the year?
There are quite a few that I can think of, but to my mind, a ‘hero’ is one who takes up challenges and makes the impossible possible. So I’d say chef Sadek Miah from the Shampan Group.
- To read about Indian events and openings for December, click here
- To read more about Darbaar by Abdul, click here
- To read about Angus Denoon of Jhalmuri Express’s 2016, click here