Get up close with Abdul Yaseen of Darbaar, which takes its inspiration from the royal courts of India. Taking ideas from both the East and best of the West, he reinterprets traditional dishes.
How did Darbaar begin?
Darbaar was a vision, and the idea was in my mind long before it opened. I wanted to create a place where people wouldn’t just want to come in for food and drink, but to get an experience larger than life.
How did you create a menu that is inspired by the banquets of the Indian royal courts?
During my culinary journey within some of the best establishments, I have worked with and seen many different types of food. This mixture of experiences has given me the ability to create food using different techniques. At Darbaar, I felt the food that people receive should complement the surroundings. I wanted the food to be part of the experience, and to complement the royal design, which was inspired by the Indian royal courts.
Where did you find the inspiration?
Theatre was a prime experience in the Indian royal kingdom – I wanted to bring in these royal influences to Darbaar and offer the food in a theatrical way. A lot of my inspiration comes from my BBQ experience of marrying Indian spices with the finest British produce and to create Indian specialities with a Western twist.
Which different Indian regional influences come up in the menu, and what defines these dishes?
The Darbaar menu is very versatile and uses a wide range of ingredients from the whole region.
For example, the Rabbit is indicative of the royal lifestyle in Rajasthan. The dish has been adapted and recreated using a few western twists.
Butter Chicken used to be an iconic dishes in Old Delhi and has been recreated using Eastern Indian influence. This dish is very popular throughout the whole of India too. All of our dishes have a theatrical connection, similar to the food that is served in huge pots in India.
Tell us about your time in Jaipur, India and about the food you were surrounded by?
During my 10 years in Jaipur, I had the honour of working with some of the finest chefs and I was exposed to a different cooking style and tradition. Jaipur is famous for its marinades and rubs, which I have bought to Darbaar and is one of the highlights of the food here.
What important experiences have you picked up from your time at The Cinnamon Club?
The Cinnamon Club was a great platform for me! It was at The Cinnamon Club that I was exposed to being creative and innovative – my approach to traditional dishes was challenged. I started to develop creativity and to start to create traditional Indian dishes but with a few twists. The Cinnamon Club also gave me the chance to showcase my culinary adventures and bring all of my experience to one place, for example my experience of BBQing in Jaipur and the ability to balance complex flavours to create a dish.
What ingredients are key at Darbaar?
I make all of my own spice blends at Darbaar, and I carefully select what will go into that blend. Aromatic spices and subtle flavours are key and I make sure the spices complement, but never overpower.
Any specials or events coming up this year?
During the summer there will be a Summer Grill menu. This is an Indian-inspired tasting menu that will use a range of different grills including Charcoal and wood fire grills.
Favourite food loves in London…
I love Italian food! I really enjoy going to L’Anima because of their classical approach to fine Italian food.