By Veronica An
BADMAASH serves up eclectic Indian food with a side of attitude. After all, the restaurant’s name, roughly translates to “badass” or “rebel.” While Badmaash may not be the best place to take your traditionalist eighty-year-old grandmother, it is the ideal place to bring a date when you want to show off your wit and sense of humor. Badmaash stands out from other downtown eateries because of its unique, and slightly irreverent, take on Indian cuisine. Where else can you sample Indian beer, watch corny Bollywood movies, and order from a menu that has a section titled “Food Porn?”
Badmaash’s entrees are deliciously presented—they make dining a visual as well as a tactile experience. With the beats of Bollywood pounding in the background, diners are treated to a host of flavorful offerings, all with a signature badass style. Badmaash offers traditional Indian dishes as well as unique fusion items. All food is served a la carte; Badmaash offers warm naan, fresh roti, or fragrant basmati rice to accompany your entrée. Don’t skimp on the condiments—5 Pepper Hot Sauce (the “Boss Sauce”) or the standard Tamarind & Mint-Cilantro chutney are robust and colorful additions to your meal.
Fans of Indian food will appreciate the Traditional Samosa and gharwalla achaar (Indian Pickles) appetizers. The Traditional samosas, crispy dough triangles filled with a piping hot mixture of spiced potatoes and peas, are a classic Indian dish. Badmaash also serves two playful variations on the typical samosas–Butter Chicken and Slow Cooked Short Rib. Nakul Mahendro, co-owner of the restaurant, explains that these samosas “take traditional and present it in a new way.” They are crispy and rich without feeling heavy and pair well with the refreshing Indian Pickles. This small plate features a colorful, refreshing assortment of red onions, curried cauliflower, matchstick carrots, and button mushrooms. The pickles have a slightly sweet and tangy flavor while each vegetable retains its unique flavor profile—the carrots taste slightly sweeter while the cauliflower has more of an emphasis on cilantro.
For more adventurous eaters, Badmaash offers a range of spicy and savory entrées. Ghost Chili Lamb Vindaloo, one of the restaurant’s most fiery dishes, exemplifies Badmaash’s rebellious attitude. Although vindaloo is a classic Indian curry, Badmaash makes it contemporary by infusing the dish with ghost chilies, one of the hottest peppers known to man. Mahendro also recommends the Spiced Lamb Burger, joking that he eats one almost every day.
Badmaash blends Canadian comfort food and classic Indian fare with their Chicken Tikka Poutine. Mahendro feels this dish exemplifies the restaurant’s style—it pays homage to the family’s Indian roots while acknowledging their Canadian upbringing. Poutine, fries with cheese curds and gravy, could justifiably be Canada’s signature junk food. This nontraditional take on poutine falls under the #FoodPorn section of the menu is a food blogger’s dream come true. This Instagram-worthy item is unique to the L.A dining scene—Chicken Tikka Poutine is worthy of the hype (and social media shares).
Badmaash has a surprisingly diverse assortment of sweets. Check the chalkboard menu for their offerings (as well as the title of their daily film screening). The Alphonso Mango Mousse provides a palate-cleansing end to any meal while it is tempting to make the Sweet Carrot Pudding (gajar halwa) shredded carrots with milk and cardamom, a meal in itself. Badmaash also offers delicate ice cream sandwiches made with Indian Parle-G biscuits and vanilla ice cream.
The restaurant rounds out its menu with a variety of beverages including Indian sodas, beers, and wine. The dessert-like Bombay “Cutting Chai”, spiced tea with plenty of milk and sugar, is a perfect way to end a meal and comes served in colorful wire frames. Another option is the Mango Lassi, a chilled combination of mangoes and creamy yogurt. Coinsurers of Indian culture should also sample Limca, Indian lime soda, and the Kingfisher Lager.
Badmaash offers a playful take on Indian flavors, as Mahendro described, it is not a typical Indian restaurant but a gastropub with Indian flair, operated by Canadian-Indian immigrants. Like the city itself, Badmaash is a fusion of different cultures with a distinctly urban feel. The restaurant’s playful combination of flavors and laid-back vibe blends seamlessly into downtown Los Angeles. As Mahendro remarked, “Los Angeles has a refined metropolitan feel, good opportunities…and the weather’s great.” What’s not to love?