Badshah is the new Indian food king in the heart of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. Badshah. With its mustache decal, which translates to “King of the Village” in Hindi, this new hotspot is serving up delicious street-food inspired Indian fare.
You’ll find classics on the menu, but Chef Charles Mani likes to play – he borrows various Asian techniques, manipulating flavors and textures of dishes to create a hybrid of cultures on a plate.
The night we went, we sat by the open-air front section of the restaurant, which gave us a prime vantage point to people-watch.
The space is cozy with minimal décor, save from the many mustache decals galore, and the bar area is very inviting with its gleaming white countertops and white exposed brick walls. Service is genuinely friendly and solicitous. But what you really want to know about is the food, so here’s the breakdown on the tasting menu, your vehicle to pack as much flavor into your evening as possible.
Drinks at Badshah
Personally, I don’t see the need to look further than the Mango Lassi (which can come unaltered or spiked with coconut rum and the moniker Sassy Lassi), but there are many craft cocktails on offer, as well as wine and beer. Another safe bet is the Indian Rose, a rose-scented, fruity concoction, or the Mumbai Old Fashioned, which incorporates licorice and cardamom into the timeless classic.
Gol Goppa, crispy little nuggets of joy bursting with cool yogurt interiors arrived first on a microgreen salad on my first trip to Badshah.
Next were discs of crisp Quinoa Tikki cakes ideal for swiping through puddles of brightly colored sauce, followed by fat and succulent spicy grilled prawns. My favorite, though, was the Badshah Cauliflower, a nod to the Asian influence General Tso’s chicken so ubiquitous to Chinese menus. Benign cauliflower is transformed with Asian-spiced crispy exteriors and pillowy soft, light interiors.
Badshah Entrees “From the Pots”
Next we were deluged by a veritable smorgasbord of little curry pots. Butter Chicken with a rich gravy was on pointe, while Coconut Curry was coolly delicious and helped to temper the heat from the spicy Lamb Rogan Josh. The light-as-air naan bread was perfect to dip into the Daal Makhani, and with the vegetarian Punjabi Kadhi, a yogurt and chickpea curry, I promise you won’t miss the meat.
Dessert at Badshah
The Clay-Pot Kulfi, a pistachio and cardamom Indian ice cream, is like a compressed gelato: dense, fragrant, flavorful, and a perfect way to punctuate the end of the meal.
If you love Indian food and are looking for a variation on some of your old favorites, give Badshah a try. Gracious staff, cold cocktails and imaginative dishes await you.
Contributed by Sarah Henry