Indian comfort food with a modern twist
Indian food is one of the culinary backbones of New York City dining. Known for its fragrant dishes that combine a multitude of herbs and spices, it is commonly known as one of the ultimate comfort foods for New Yorkers. And then enters Badshah. Located in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, Badshah’s recipes and menu items takes the classic and traditional Indian flavors and provides a modern take. And we were lucky enough to try out Badshah last week.
To start, we had to try some of their cocktails. The cocktails on their menu are exciting, in which they take classic drinks familiar to everyone and add a playful Indian twist to it. We started off with the Bubbly Maharani which is made with London dry fin, mint, cucumber, and prosecco. Taking the first sip you get a nice herbaceous flavor from the fin that melds well with the freshness of the mint and the cucumber. And if you are a fan of bubbles like I am, the prosecco adds a nice refreshing and bubbly finish that cleanses your palette.
We also got a chance to try the Sari no Sari which is made with Malibu rum, mint, muddled blueberries, and finished with fresh lime juice. This drink has a just a smooth feel and almost feels like silk running down your throat with each sip. There is a burst of sweetness that pops with each sip from the blueberries that is then finished off by the freshness of the mint that reinvigorates your palette from the sensational sweetness.
And lastly, we tried the I am Badshah, which was arguably my favorite drink there. Made with Bulleit bourbon, cardamom syrup, and angostura bitters, this drink almost acts like an Indian old fashioned. And if you are familiar with how an old fashioned tastes, you know how strong and pungent they are. However, with this drink, the smokiness and booziness from the bourbon marries perfectly with the sweetness from the cardamom syrup. And even more, the cardamom added a lot more depth to the drink by the subtle notes of spice that it added throughout the drink.
Moving on to the appetizers, we had a chance to try the Shahi Murgh Sliders. This dish is made with slowly pulled apart tandoori roast chicken , drizzled with traditional makhani sauce, and nestled between toasted, buttered slider buns. Taking the first bite into this dish was magical. The buns had the perfect amount of butter used where it was both toasted inside the bun but the rest of the bun was fluffy and tender. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and had so much juice and flavor packed into it. The makhani sauce that was drizzled on top provided a wonderful savoriness to the dish as well. And what Indian dish would be complete without some onions. The addition of white onions to the dish was such a simple way to balance the flavors and textures of the dish. The onion provided this sharp sweetness to the dish that balanced the savory aspects and also provided a much needed crunch to the dish so that way it didn’t have only one singular texture to it.We also tried the P&B Skewers which was made with chunks of paneer interspersed with broccoli and served with sliced almonds, pomegranate seeds, and a turmeric based tahini for dipping. The paneer itself has a beautiful char to it and had the smokiness to add which made for a well executed tandoor dish. The tandoori rub used too was spicy, and had a punch of flavor to it. Adding on to that, the paneer itself was meaty and savory while also maintaining a lot of moisture to it where it wasn’t crumbly or dry. Dipping it into the tahini added a bit of cool spice to it while also adding a slow heat at the end which made out palettes water even more.
For our main, we tried The Rani’s Ghee Roast which is made with succulent goat morsels that is cooked in clarified butter and curry leaves. On the side too is some roti for dipping into the sauce as well. Visually, this dish looks like a traditional Indian dish you would find at an authentic restaurant. The feeling of home and familiarity overwhelmed us as we looked at it. And the fragrant aroma of spices followed next which only solidified the familiarity and added in our excitement to dive into the dish. Taking the first bite, you can’t help but notice how tender the lamb is. It practically melts in your mouth as soon you take one bite. The cooking in the clarified butter also adds this buttery taste to the lamb that helps balance out the spices used to cook this lamb. The roti was prepared well and was a perfect vehicle not only to eat the lamb with but to also sop up the sauce after all the lamb was gone. The sauce itself was amazing and had bursts of umami and deep dark spices that not only added punches of flavor but had some built up heat in it too.
For dessert we tried the paan kulfi which is a refreshing betal leaf ice cream flavored with gulkand and fennel seed. If you are unfamiliar with paan, it is a lead that is usually served after a meal and acts as a digestif. It has a very deep flavor tone that is then packed with a variety of spices. The kulfi was creamy and delicious, not unlike a typical ice cream you would find in most parts of America. But the paan flavor in the kulfi was prominent but not excessive. The spiciness from the paan was present but not overpowering with it.
Overall, we loved Badshah. This is such a cute place to stop in if you are in Hell’s Kitchen and the food is to die for. And even if you aren’t in the mood to have some of the heavier things, Badshah has a variety of light snacks and beautiful cocktails for you and your friends to snack and drink to.