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Distil Your World

Flavour and Sustainability with Asma Khan

“We don't waste anything. My mother would always say that we used every grain of rice.”

- Asma Khan

Food is one of the mediums through which people are able to truly connect and build community, share stories, and it is intrinsically connected to places. In their quest to distil London, The Macallan’s whisky Maker Steven Bremner and the Roca brothers immersed themselves in its food, history and culture, meeting people who are driving innovation and technology, fostering community and spearheading new sustainability initiatives.

The world of cuisine is an essential part of what defines the city, and during their time in London the Roca brothers and Steven met Indian chef Asma Khan, owner of one of London’s most well-known and loved restaurants - Darjeeling Express.
 
The Macallan Distil your World Character Asma Khan

Asma Khan – The Indian Chef

Asma learnt how to cook traditional Indian dishes as an adult, when visiting her family in Kolkata and later went on to run private supper clubs in London. Today she owns and runs Darjeeling Express. As well as cooking celebrated food, her mission is to change perceptions of female chefs and entrepreneurs; all of the employees who currently work in her restaurant are women.

Asma Khan, born in Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta), arrived in the UK in 1991. Her personal experience as a new arrival into London’s melting pot and her self-taught culinary skills are ever-present in her restaurant, her cookbooks and come through in her numerous media appearances- she recently featured on the Netflix Series ‘Chef’s Table’.

London’s Spice Legacy

Asma’s diverse background gave The Macallan’s Whisky Maker Steven Bremner and the Roca brothers a deeper insight into London’s multicultural side. As they toured a neighbourhood spice shop together, Asma gave a brief history lesson on Britain’s long-standing relationship with India and spices over the centuries, and how it competed with other European nations to meet its insatiable demand for spices. For, as Asma says, “once you try spices you cannot imagine life without them”.

They quickly learned that Indian cooking in London has a long history, unlike other cooking styles such as Spanish or Peruvian, which are more recent culinary experiences introduced to the city.

The first Indian restaurant in London opened in times of the British Empire in the 1800s, meaning that Indian food and its spices have been part of London’s cuisine for close to 200 years and represent a deep-rooted part of the city’s culture.

I share a common value with Distil Your World London: I can connect to you through food and stories. That is a sense of community.

Asma Khan Darjeeling Express

Inspiration and Mastery

Steven and the Roca brothers’ time with Asma included a dining experience in her restaurant, discovering the delicate and balanced nature of using spices. This time and insight provided inspiration, as they considered how this could feed into creating a single malt inspired by London.

Steven was fascinated by how the use of spices, when done properly, centres around harmony and creating the perfect balance. Whilst Joan Roca found inspiration in the possibility of creating a complexity of taste with the right mix; a discovery that became fundamental in the search to recreate London’s essence.
The Macallan Distil your World Spice Shop Location with Rocas

Watch

Distil Your World London

Now available to watch on Prime Video, explore how The Macallan and the Roca brothers seek to distil the essence of this iconic city, unearthing its vibrant spirit and uncovering the unique flavours and scents that define London.

Distil Your World

A Whisky Inspired by London

Distil Your World

The London Visionary: Mischa Dohler