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Creating harmony between book and place

Montalto head chef Matt Wilkinson talks us through creating a menu based on British-Indian chef Asma Khan’s cookbook Ammu for her appearance at this month’s Books & Ideas at Montalto.

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Asma Khan’s appearance at Montalto this month will be accompanied by a custom menu based on her cookbook Ammu. How do you approach creating a one-off set menu?

It’s always an exciting opportunity to collaborate with a cookbook author. I base a menu around what I think will be delicious and what I would love to cook and learn – a new recipe or technique for example – and apply the recipes that can adapt to our kitchen set up and complement our wine so there will be a harmonious connection between book and place.

What was your inspiration when putting the menu together?

I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at Asma’s Darjeeling Express restaurant in London a few times and know her food well. It is so delicious! The dishes we have selected perfectly marry the produce we have growing in the Montalto Estate gardens and the use of our wood fire grill.

What do you love most about Darjeeling Express? Is there anything like it here in Australia?

Unfortunately there’s nothing quite like it in Australia so please ask Asma to open one here! Darjeeling Express is a hive of activity, fragrances and deliciousness in an old London building and transports you to India in a flash. The food makes you feel warm and happy and is served the way Indian food should be eaten. It is simply a delight.

Montalto is a kitchen-garden paddock to plate restaurant. How will you pair these ingredients with the traditional Indian flavours of Asma Khan’s recipes?

Seasonality is the core of Indian cuisine, along with the freshest of spices and layering of flavour. The dishes we have selected to cook also showcase the best of what is growing on the estate. Following the recipes carefully using the best spices we can find and understanding how to layer the flavours of Asma’s cooking will be the key to success to replicating her amazing cuisine.



Montalto x Asma Khan menu – Thursday 25 May 2023
Tuerong bread, spiced whipped butter
Saag ka Raita – raw and preserved vegetables
Chingri Chop – prawn croquettes, sweet chilli, mustard leaves
Sikandari Rann – wood-roasted spiced lamb, Asma masala
Saag Channa Masala – estate greens braised with spiced chickpeas.
Adrak Phulli – wood-roasted garden beans, ginger
Kesar Pista Firni – saffron, pistachio rice pudding


Matt Wilkinson’s bespoke menu inspired by Ammu will accompany Asma Khan’s in-conversation event with Bhakthi Puvanenthiran at Montalto on Thursday 25 May 2023. Book your tickets now.

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.