Country Pride: Mumbai’s Cafe Haqq Se is suffused with the goodness of India

APR 22, 2016 | By Aditi Sharma Maheshwari

While taking a walk around Kamala Mills, one encounters some pockets of quiet that yield themselves to those who seek. Inside one such space we discovered something new – the smell of a new eatery, a freshly painted facade and a welcoming front desk. The idea of an all-Indian menu, at first did not send our taste buds into an overdrive, however post the experience, our satiated bellies told a different story.

First impression
A large, red door opened to reveal a giant “Make in India” wall mural, a long wall of illustrations and multihued seating. A rustic vibe pulsated throughout the space and soft fusion music reverberated all around. Owned by three young entrepreneurs Pankaj Gupta, Avinash Gupta and Abhir Dhawan, the entire menu has been specially designed by the well-travelled chef, Milan Gupta.
The interiors
As the name suggests, the decor is in line with the overriding theme – India pride. To lend a opulent feel to the place, the owners engaged set designer Vinod Guruji to style the restaurant. Artist Kanak Nanda created the wall art and illustrations. Placed atop dark wooden flooring were antique seaters specially sourced from Jodhpur, Rajasthan. “All marble tabletops display royal tasla plates that were once used in Kashmir. Since those aren’t available anymore, we got them specially fabricated from a vendor in New Delhi,” explained Pankaj. On the left corner of the restaurant, we spotted wooden plaques that read the cafe’s name; these also double up as menus distributed to visitors, with sheets of paper attached to their reverse side. Quotes and facts about India are written on the ceiling exhaust pipes and a small stage with an artificial tree, giving the sense of a “pind” or a village has been created where Sufi artists are invited to perform live. Finally, a wooden bar with tall stools sourced from Jodhpur complete the scene.
The food and service
A forthcoming management and fairly quick service, we ticked these boxes with a smile. “The idea for the restaurant is to feel a sense of pride in everything Indian. There were some driving factors we kept in mind – to bring back the lost nuances of Indian cuisine and for greater acceptance, use techniques from foreign cuisine for a progressive menu,” avers Milan. For the starter, we were offered Samudri Methi, a dish that once existed in ancient India and Schezwan Chicken Wings. For the former, the chef imagined a recipe that resonates with olden times but with a contemporary twist – methi was offered with a unique mushroom chutney mixed with tender coconut to cut the bitter taste of the herb. Chicken wings, though a popular dish across the world was made with peppercorn, marinated in a quintessentially Indian herb trifila to give it a new perspective. “Everything has a story behind it,” maintains Milan. Another interesting concoction, Dhungari Turai Paneer was made in the Italian style of cooking – a thin layer of zucchini was used to wrap cottage cheese and instead of frying, it was lightly baked in Indian spices, served with rocket chutney. Pista Jam Pie made of baked flour and cream, served with salted toffee ice cream filled us to the top – however, even post a three course meal, we did not feel weighed down as the food was fairly light.
ED’s final verdict
Thumbs up to a place we initially second-guessed. Tucked away in a corner of Kamala Mills, Cafe Haqq Se is a good blend of all three – cuisine, ambience and even music. For those who do have Indian food cravings but give it a pass, thanks to the mental visual of greasy dishes with layers of floating oil, this one is an alternative. Do visit, and while you’re here, brush up your trivia on India, why don’t you?
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