For the last few years she’s been on a one-woman mission to persuade Londoners to forget what they think they know about Pakistani food. Now following the rapturous response that greeted her Gourmet Karachi Supper Club, Aida Khan is to open her first restaurant.
Shola will launch in January in White City Place, where the former BBC headquarters have been skilfully reimagined as a new creative campus. It will offer an exceptional but fast casual South Asian culinary experience, using high quality ingredients and innovative cooking techniques.
The menu is based on Khan’s family recipes that have been passed down over the generations. There are no short cuts or inferior ingredients. Spices are roasted and ground on site, and masalas are made from scratch.
Destined to become instant classics are the likes of Tamatar Kee Chutney, sharp smashed tomatoes tempered with a fragrant mix of curry leaves, roasted onion and coriander seeds; Beef Behari Kabab, six hour slow cooked spiced beef flavoured with pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and chillies; zesty Chicken Hara Masala, marinated overnight in a fresh herb yogurt base; Khattee Daal, a mixture of lentils slow cooked and tempered with curry leaves and whole red chillies, and Beef Seekh Kebab, melt-in-the-mouth charcoal grilled beef kebabs.
Equally delectable desserts round off this flavour-packed culinary offering, spearheaded by Naan Khatai, a crumbly semolina and flour cookie, glazed and sprinkled with freshly chopped pistachios.
Khan's credentials are certainly pretty impressive; she wrote and presented a travel food show that took her across Pakistan where she collected and sampled unique recipes and cooking methods specific to each region.
Concluded Khan, “At Shola our aim is to take you back to an era of simple, clean cooking, the way it has been done in our family kitchens for decades. We hope the food speaks for itself and can’t wait to share a piece of our city with you.
'I am essentially trying to change the way Pakistani food is portrayed and perceived in London. I grew up on very healthy, light food but Pakistani food in the UK is associated with stodgy curries.
'Our curries are not supposed to be dripping in fat or laden with cream and that's the ethos behind my cooking. I want to communicate the nostalgia I have for the food of my childhood.”