Written by Aliya Zaidi
Chef Abdul Yaseen is an award-winning chef and a modern Indian food connoisseur with a reputation for excellence both in the UK and overseas. Moving from Jaipur to London fifteen years ago, he was part of the founding team of iconic London Restaurant, Cinnamon Club.
He then went on to become Head Chef at Cinnamon Kitchen and Anise where he played an instrumental part in building the Cinnamon brand. Other accolades include winning the British BBQ Championships and the Canapé Cup at Square Meal Venues & Events for three years consecutively.
His solo venture Darbaar celebrates the shared dining experience and rich history of the banquets of the Indian Royal Court.
If you yourself were a food dish, what would you be and why?
If I were a food dish, I would be a biriyani, because biriyani is a classic approach to how ingredients are married together and can still be a part of one dish.
Describe your relationship with food in three words.
Actual, true, love.
What do you think is the culinary capital of the world and why?
London. The reason why is because London has an appetite to encourage and absorb any cuisine; big or small, any chef; big or small, any culture; big or small. It is a platform where anyone can find a share for themselves.
Name us one food that you cannot stomach.
Well, I eat the simplest of food, such as chilli powder and steamed rice. I don’t like any food that is cured in vinegar for a long time but does not have any spices.
Talk us through your relationship with food – how did you fall in love?
I like to do justice to anything which has all the good reasons to be known for its best. So I think when I cook, it’s a stress buster. When I actually try to cook, I use all the signs and I understand what it needs to sing its glory outside the pan. So I think if I’m cooking, even on my worst day, I cannot spoil a dish, which has all the right chances to be notified as glorious.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
I’d be a singer. I used to sing in college. I sing quite well, or at least, I used to sing quite well.
What is your go-to comfort meal – the one meal that feels like its enveloping you in a motherly hug?
On Saturday mornings, my wife makes vermicelli puddings and that is one meal, which even in my death, I would not want to miss. I work all day and long hours, but on a Saturday I get this time with my wife and my kids. No matter how busy she is, she’ll definitely make that one dish as breakfast. That is one dish, that I would even want to keep in the fridge and want to eat later.
What would be your ‘last supper’ or your last meal on earth if you could pick it?
It would have to be butter chicken (from Darbaar!).
What are your culinary pet hates?
There is nothing in the culinary world that I truly hate. I always like to rectify it. I dislike open kept spices. I dislike seafood or raw fish to be kept at room temperature before it comes out of the danger zone. The wrong approach to ingredients in the culinary world is something I hate, and I do not let my team do it.
Who would you love to cook for (past or present) and what would you make them?
I would love to cook for my father, who I did not cook for at all. I lost my dad before I became a professional chef. And that is one regret that I have always had in my life. So the reason why I keep on cooking and I keep on going is because every time that I cook and I serve, I feel that I have done something for my father.
View Darbaar on the Halal Gems Restaurant Finder here
To read more articles like this, download our digital magazine here.
Written by Aliya Zaidi