Husna Pasha has a few strings to her bow. She’s produced her own stage show, been the subject of an ABC documentary and hosted Channel 10’s The Project. Her latest venture is her first in the food world.
Pasha is taking the reigns of Brunswick East’s Moroccan Deli-cacy from friend Hana Assafiri, also the owner of Fitzroy’s Moroccan Soup Bar. Together the pair helped run the community-centric venue’s famous Speed Date a Muslim nights. When Assafiri called Pasha to ask whether she’d be interested in taking over the site, Pasha couldn’t say no.
The venue has been renamed to Alisha's Cafe Collective; “Alisha” being a portmanteau of Aliyah and Shahan, the names of Pasha’s children with husband and co-owner Nicolas Rangasamy-Shakeel. Despite this, Pasha says nothing is changing drastically.
“I’m a big believer of not trying to fix something that isn't broken,” she says. “We’re simply looking forward to adding our own personal touch.”
Much of the shop’s fittings are staying, and the menu remains plant-based, with most dishes inspired by Rangasamy-Shakeel and Pasha’s Mauritian and Indian heritage, respectively. The Middle of the East plate consists of turmeric hummus, Mauritian falafel, roasted veggies, pita bread and house-made dukkah. The East of the Middle plate comes with pilaf, dhal, spiced yoghurt and fried cauliflower.
Don’t worry if those names seem a little confusing at first.
“All dishes have a funny definition at the bottom to explain it and the story behind it,” Pasha says. “I’m a comedian, so I try to bring an aspect of humour into everything I do.”
The multi-use space hosts yoga, meditation sessions, cooking workshops and private functions. Movie and documentary nights, where punters can eat and drink while reclining in beanbags, will also begin in June. Breakfast will initially only be served Friday to Sunday, though Pasha and Rangasamy-Shakeel are looking to introduce it all week round.
A portion of the cafe’s profits are donated to a charity nominated by the community and presented at monthly events.
Alisha's Cafe Collective
313 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
(03) 9387 6805
Tue to Thu 10am–4pm
Fri to Sun 9am–4pm