Asma Khan on Time 100 ‘most influential’ list

Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express has been named as one of the 100 most influential people of 2024 on Time magazine’s annual list.

The Calcutta-born chef and restaurateur started out by running a supper club in her home, and now operates Darjeeling Express from permanent premises in Kingly Court, Soho, with what she calls an “all-women team of housewives”.

Categorised as an ‘innovator’, Asma is profiled on the list by Indian-American model, cook and writer Padma Lakshmi, the long-serving host of TV series Top Chef.

I met Asma Khan when she was a guest on Top Chef. She cooked a thali meal for our contestants, which they loved. 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.

Her acclaimed London restaurant, Darjeeling Express, has an all-female kitchen. Most chefs are older South Asian immigrants who lack formal training. Asma is not only interested in doing the right thing, she’s a shrewd businesswoman too. South Asian aunties know the cuisine best. Many Indian restaurants in the West have menus where everything kind of tastes the same. But Asma’s food is surprising. It doesn’t taste like restaurant food—and that is the highest compliment.

Asma has been featured on Chef’s Table and won all kinds of acclaim for her food, but she’s humble. I’m excited for Asma to start hosting the documentary series Tiffin Stories, which will highlight food from the Indian diaspora. She will be a natural host: she’s hospitable, and genuinely cares about people.” 

Asma said she was “honoured to be a part of this group and to have been recognised as a pioneer“.

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