Badmaash – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

Badmaash, which means “badass” in Hindi, totally lives up to its name. Opened last year by Chef Pawan Mahendro and his son Nakul, Badmaash brings the vibrant flavors of Indian street food (with a few fun twists) to Downtown Los Angeles.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

The Mahendros arrived in Southern California by way of Toronto. Chef Pawan, who is formally trained in classic French and Italian cuisine, opened Jaipur Grill in Toronto and spent years traveling through India before arriving in Los Angeles.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

While the playful gastropub-meets-Indian-cuisine mashups have been hogging the headlines since the restaurant debuted—Chicken Tikka Poutine and Chili Cheese Naan, anyone?—I was interested in sampling the more traditional offerings during my visit with Valentina, Anne, and Nastassia. We made an exception for the lamb burger, of course!

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

Dinner started off on a virtuous note with the “Gharwalla Achaar,” a colorful platter of house-made pickles ($8). carrots, cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, and cucumbers, served with made-from-scratch mango and tomato chutneys.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

The pickle platter was served in tandem with the “Mixed Mushroom Tandoori” ($12), a collection of portabello, cremini, and white field mushroom seasoned with tandoori masala and cooked in the kitchen’s tandoori clay oven. This was the healthiest start to any meal in recent memory!

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

Next came the “Punjabi Samosas” ($6), crisp and golden parcels stuffed with potatoes and peas and kissed with cumin, coriander seeds, and ginger. The cilantro and tamarind chutneys dished on the side were as solid as the samosas.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

“Dad’s Famous Carlsbad Mussels” ($16) were a well balanced and tasty affair. Prepared “Madras-style,” the mussels arrived bathing in a coconut milk curry with paprika, turmeric, plum tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

The best bite of the night—the one that beckons for to me to return to Badmaash again and again—was the “Spiced Lamb Burger” ($13), a killer stack of ground and spiced lamb with spiced mayonnaise, onions, and tomato on a lovely Breadbar-baked brioche bun.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

I also quite liked the “Sweet and Sour Spiced Pumpkin” ($13), tender cubes of pumpkin braised in fennel, mustard seeds, red chili pepper, and “mango dust.” This was a straightforward vegetarian preparation that really hit the mark.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

The dish that had us all sweating and reaching for cooling yogurt was the “Ghost Chili Lamb Vindaloo” ($14). The combination of lamb and potato braised in a bhoot jolokia curry was hot, hot, hot.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

To soothe and spice our meal, depending on what was needed, was a collection of superb condiments, including “Masala Onion and Chilies” ($3), “Whipped Cucumber Yogurt Raita” ($3) with toasted cumin and Indian black salt, spiced mango chutney ($3), tamarind and mint cilantro chutney (complimentary), and “Five Pepper Hot Sauce,” also known as Boss Sauce ($1).

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

On hand to soak and scoop our saucy spread was plenty of basmati pilaf ($3), as well as hot-from-the-oven naan ($3). I preferred the fluffy rice over the bread due to its superior capacity to absorb.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

To finish, we shared four terrific Indian sweets. Warm glasses of chai tea transitioned our taste buds from savory to sweet.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

The Alphonso mango mousse, velvety smoooth and not too sweet, was a crowd pleaser.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

I’ve got a thing for rice pudding, and this kheer was excellent, with its slivered almond accents and rich cardamom flavor.

Badmaash - Downtown - Los Angeles

My favorite of the bunch was the ras malai, flattened balls of paneer cheese swimming in malai (clotted cream) and scented with cardamom. I can’t wait to introduce my paneer- and cardamom-obsessed Astronomer to this sweet.

With solid food and an energetic space, Badmaash is a welcome edition to Downtown’s already bumpin’ dining scene. Badass—simple as that.

Badmaash
108 West 2nd Street, Suite 104
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: 213-221-7466

If you’re down with Downtown L.A., then you’re down with me:

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