Chef Asma Khan was born in Calcutta, India to a father who worked towards unionising labourers in India and a mother who ran a catering business. Khan never learned to cook growing up, so her entrance into the world of cooking came rather late. She was wed to her husband via an arranged marriage and in 1991, the pair moved to Cambridge in England.
While living in Cambridge, Khan missed the food she had grown up eating and subsequently learnt how to cook from an aunt who was also living in the area. After her aunt passed away, Khan returned to Indian for a few months to continue cooking lessons with her mother, something she has said helped them to develop a stronger relationship. In 1996, Khan and her husband moved to London so that he could teach at SOAS University of London, and Khan enrolled in a law course at King’s College London. In 2012, she graduated with a PhD in British Constitutional Law.
That same year, Khan began hosting a series of private supper clubs in her home, one of which was attended by renowned Indian chef Vivek Singh, who asked her to host a pop up at this restaurant The Cinnamon Club. This then led to another pop up at Soho pub Sun and 13 Cantons and eventually to Khan being able to open her debut restaurant. In 2017, Khan unveiled Darjeeling Express in Soho’s Kingly court complex, boasting an all-female chef team and serving a menu of homely Indian dishes which was well received by both critics and the general public alike.
In 2018, Khan released her debut cookbook Asma's Indian Kitchen to critical acclaim, and the following year she became the first British chef to be profiled on the hit Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table. In March 2020, Khan closed the Soho location of Darjeeling Express due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but by the end of that same year she had reopened the concept at a larger site in Covent Garden.