Chill Floor Seating, Sufi Music & Authentic Kashmiri: It’s Rishta Pakka With This Cafe!

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Hameen Asto is a Saidulajab cafe that refuses to play by the rules. Soothing music, mattresses to chill at and an area dedicated to exhibiting Kashmiri artefacts and spotlights, it’s a fitting foil to the dolled-up, Insta-ready cafes that dot the area.

How It All Began...

Ayaaz had a footwear business up and running, but, like a lot of first-time cafe owners, he dreamt of having his own restaurant one day. Things fell into place {more like the cooking pot} when he met his partner, who also happened to be Kashmiri. The two got the menu together, and even redesigned this decrepit place from scratch, replete with all the black and white photos, hookahs, lanterns and carpets.

“We just saw the place, and decided to jump right into it. It was really that simple,” Ayaaz tells us. Now, a few months into its existence, it draws a lot of nearby office goers and wayward design {and coffee} enthusiasts, who pop in for a quick bite in the shade.

Better Pita Than Never

We decided to ditch the usual pasta, pizza and chinjabi in favour of the real deal: Kashmiri. It’s a cuisine they claim to know and do well,  and boy, do they deliver on the promise.

The Babribeol was a perfectly refreshing glass of cold milk with chia seeds and grated coconut. The Lemon Ginger Iced Tea was a good change from the concoctions that most lazy cafes resort to; they had us at that lingering taste of ginger and fresh tea leaves.

The meat-eater found the portion of rishta and rice big enough to feed two hungry folks. He said that the mutton was tender, and the gravy had the subtle spices that are the signature of Kashmiri cuisine. The tamatar paneer with pita was aromatic, and the two things went together perfectly. Thank God none of these had an unforgiving lashing of spice, but if you want, you can tell them to go all out.

Going by our experience, we have reason enough to believe that their nadru and gushtaba will be worth a try, too. The thin-crust pizzas, kahwa and Kashmiri rajma rice seemed to be the most popular dishes making it to our neighbouring tables. Of course, they also serve shakes, spring rolls, chilli chicken and the like.

So, We're Saying...

They host shaayari evenings, and invite live Sufi musicians in keeping with their casual vibe. A dose of culture with your plate of gushtaba is always welcome, no? Keep track of their events on their Facebook page

P.S. Since we were offered the hookah menu, we reckon it might be one of those rare places still serving it.