Food of the Royals and a legacy
Chef Abdul Yaseen has an impressive series of awards and accolades to his name including winning the British Barbeque Championships and the Canape Cup for three years consecutively. He was also part of the founding team of London’s iconic Cinnamon Club and then went to be Head Chef at Cinnamon Kitchen. In 2016, he launched Darbaar in Liverpool Street and immediately bagged an award for Best Newcomer by the British Curry Awards 2016. We went behind the scenes with Chef Abdul Yaseen to learn about his journey to success.
1 – What is the story behind Darbaar?
I was classically trained in Oberoi (Editor’s note: Oberoi runs luxury hotels, a number of which are amongst the best hotels in the world. A look at the chefs that have trained with them is nothing less than a star studded line up of the best Indian chefs in the world) so I know what it takes to achieve a position of success. I have been involved in the creative side of many successful ventures taking risks artistically that paid off. For me, opening Darbaar wasn’t about owning a place. It was about creating a journey of adapting Indian cuisine but staying true to the authenticity of the ingredients and opening that experience up to diners. Darbaar is a word that signifies the biggest room in the place of a King. Everything in the design to the food experience needed to tie back to that element. From sourcing the best ingredients, to the decor evoking the grandeur of traditional royal courts and theatrical elements like serving up dishes in a traditional tawa. Darbaar has room for everyone and we want to create a place where our guests would be looked after and enjoy the experience of sharing – a place to linger and enjoy the experience.
2 – Who do you look up to?
I have learnt the trade from very creative hands in Oberoi where I met Vivek Singh. Vivek and I had worked for 18 years together and he has played an instrumental part in helping to think beyond the box. He has challenged me to push boundaries and to be more tolerant when young and he has been both a colleague and a mentor.
3 – Future plans
The current Darbaar by Abdul Yaseen is where our ethos is cook simply but eat like a king and to give people an evocative taste of royal banquets of India.
We are working on a derivative of Darbaar which will be coming soon.
4 – Favourite meal on the menu
This is like asking, who is your favourite child! (Editors note: we’ve seen this response before – it seems all Chefs have an emotional connection to the food on their menus!) !
If I had to pick I would say the Thrill of the Grill which is a tasting menu and allows people to experience the different techniques and textures that can be delivered through the use of our Robata, chargrilling and roasting methods.
5 – What are your favourite places to dine out in the UK?
I love home cooked food and I love it when my wife cooks. If we go out as a family, we enjoy going to Hakkasan and enjoy their dim sums,