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Calcutta Canteen by Darjeeling Express is Asma Khan's new all-day cafe

What: Calcutta Canteen by Darjeeling Express

In a nutshell: Asma Khan sets up a Bengali-inspired cafe

Summing it all up: As Darjeeling Express goes from strength to strength, Asma Khan has a new venture ready. Calcutta Canteen is an all-day North Indian/Bengali-inspired cafe in Carnaby and the big focus will be on filled bread buns called Pau buns.


The low-down

Just before she appears on Netflix's Chef's Table, Darjeeling Express' Asma Khan has a new venture on the way. This time it's a North Indian and Bengali-inspired all-day café, appearing in Carnaby until mid-February. It first made an appearance in Fulham Market Halls' original line-up

On the cafe menu will be Pau buns, a bread roll similar to a brioche bun, stuffed with four kinds of fillings. They will be: vegan potato, cashew nut and curry leaves, vegetarian beetroot chop, masala omelette and beef mince, all served with green chilli, coriander chutney and tomato relish. We're told those buns date back to the 16th century when the Portuguese settled in Bengal and Goa and began baking bread. 

Asma says:

I grew up calling bread Pau-Roti in Calcutta and was convinced as a child that bread was called Pau as people kneaded the flour with their feet (feet is “Pa” in Bengali) like I had seen grapes being crushed by feet for wine! 

The real story is a bit different - In the 16th century the Portuguese settled in Bengal and Goa and began baking bread (Pau of course is Portuguese for bread). Eventually the local population got a chance to taste bread when bakeries opened on the city away from the European settlements. This will be a different kind of sandwich from anything being offered in Carnaby.

Being a cafe, the cakes are equally important, so Asma has partnered with self-taught baker Tarunima Sinha of My Little Cake Tin for her cakes. They'll celebrate her Indian heritage with masala chai flavoured bundt cake, Indian spiced shortbread cookies and pistachio biscuits.

As for drinks, the famed masala chai will be making an appearance, as will non-alcohol apple cider and tea from her ancestral tea garden in India, run by her aunt ("started by my great-great-grandfather in 1884 - one of 32 tea gardens he established"). On top of that, there will be a community wall where women can feature seasonal food and more. 



More about Calcutta Canteen by Darjeeling Express

Where is it? 74 Broadwick Street, London W1B 5PW

When? Mid-November 2018, running to February 2019

Find out more: Visit the Darjeeling Express website and follow Asma on Twitter @Asma_KhanLDN.


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