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 February 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.
“I am essentially trying to change the way Pakistani food is portrayed and
perceived in London,” says Aida. “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
The menu is based on Aida’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.
Aida’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.
Travelling even further back 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.”
Shola, White City Place, 201 Wood Lane,White City, London W12 7TU