Following the rapturous response that greeted her Gourmet Karachi Supper Club, TV presenter and chef Aida Khan is to open her first restaurant.
Shola will launch in March 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. Here you will find fresh and flavourful food the way it has traditionally been enjoyed for generations in the households of Karachi, and all representing amazing value for money.
Determined to prove that Pakistani food is healthy and light, and to communicate the nostalgia she has for the food of her childhood, Aida has based Shola’s menu on family recipes that have been passed down over the years. 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.
Aida’s credentials are certainly pretty impressive; she wrote and presented an acclaimed TV show that took her across Pakistan where she collected and sampled unique recipes and cooking methods specific to each region.
Going even further back in time, she grew up in a family with a rich multifaceted history of food and a deep love for it. Aida’s oldest childhood memories are of long early morning drives at the crack of dawn to central Karachi markets with her father, himself an avid foodie, in search of the crispiest poori or the sweetest halwa for breakfast. His rules for eating have always stayed with her, “Khaana ho, acha ho, aur buhat ho.” (There should be food, good food, and plenty of it.”)
Moving to the UK and raising two young boys, Aida became increasingly frustrated by the lack of innovation in Pakistani food in London. From hosting multiple meals for friends and family it was a natural progression to start her own supper club.
Concludes Aida, “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.”