Bangladeshi delights to discover post-lockdown

Cha & Nasta in Hatfield Road, St Albans.

Cha & Nasta in Hatfield Road, St Albans. - Credit: Archant

The Local Foodie checks out a new business created during the coronavirus lockdown...

Sam and Abdul of Cha & Nasta in St Albans.

Sam and Abdul of Cha & Nasta in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

Have you spotted the bright yellow exterior of Cha & Nasta restaurant and takeout yet? It has such a stylish and welcoming look that I was keen to go and see what the food is like, so took the family along last week for lunch.

Owner Sam Kahn has remodelled the former Hideout Kafe (on Hatfield Road near the city centre) during lockdown into a take-out/outdoor café. Sam designed and built the interior with her friend Rahena and brother Abdul, and it looks great, with beautiful photos on the wall, and a funky mural in the courtyard garden, painted by niece Tayibah.

The menu features affordable, home-made Bangladeshi food such as kathi rolls, dhabba curries and snacks, with wonderful vegetarian and vegan options, as well as chicken and paneer options.

As Sam explained, all the recipes are ones they have grown up with at home, and her mum and sister help out with the cooking. We ordered a range of dishes to try, and everything we had was full of freshness and flavour.

Cha & Nasta means tea and snacks, and the menu lends itself to breakfast, lunch and snacks. Prices are very reasonable, from £4 for a kathi breakfast roll to £7 for a chicken murugh currie so if you want a more substantial meal, just order a few things.

I ordered a shabzi dhabba currie which was made with cauliflower, cabbage and lentils and it had such a freshness and delicate flavour, you could really taste the spices and ingredients. Mine came with a vegetable samosa, which was one of the best I’ve ever tried, with a crisp oil-free pastry. My lunch was beautifully presented with plenty of rice, and you can choose puri or a paratha if you prefer.

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My teen chose a kathi roll filled with shredded chicken (masala murgh), which she really enjoyed. At under £5 it isn’t huge but as a light lunch or street food snack when out shopping it is ideal.

My husband chose a vegan pulled beri kathi roll, described as ‘pulled lamb style’. He is, like so many in St Albans, working from home now, and he said he used to queue up in Canary Wharf for ages to get one of these, and this one was nicer, and cheaper too. If you are missing your London working lunches, we both recommend you head here!

The cha in the name refers to the tea menu, and they do a good range including deshi cha, vanilla cha, pink cha, Moroccan mint as well as English breakfast. I spotted fresh juices and lassis in the counter and chose a date lassi which had a great balance of taste and texture; very more-ish. Flicking through the menu I missed the fruit chutneys, which sound amazing, so I need to go back so I can order a couple of these as well. Fresh pomegranate chutney and kiwi chutney are just two options, made with roasted garlic, fresh coriander and sea salt, and the menu suggests you can eat them for dessert too!

We didn’t have to wait long for our lunch, so it’s perfect for home-workers to take away or you can sit in the courtyard garden which you access via the yellow gate on the left. If you want to order a takeaway, ring them on 01727 863222 or just head there, as there is space to queue, if needed. Sam told me that they have exciting plans for the courtyard, including

perhaps a tin roof, so they can carry on using it into the cooler months.

Cha & Nasta is open every day, 8am-7pm Monday to Thursday, 8am-9pm Friday and Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sundays, although this may change as they settle in. I don’t know anywhere like this locally, and I am sure it will be a big hit.