The place is Badmaash in downtown Los Angeles, and the butter chicken that I had for lunch today was more tasty than I expected, given the eye-popping color of the sauce (above).
Rather than a one-note coverup for lackluster food, the sauce was well spiced, with subtle heat after each bite. It came with a cup of yogurt raita that was pleasant although bland. The raw carrots on top of the chicken--and other bowls--didn't make sense, in my opinion.
Badmaash is an Indian gastropub, and the butter chicken there is also known as murgh makhani. It's one of four rice bowls on the lunch menu, all of them generous servings for $10.
The others are topped with keema (seasoned ground beef), Punjabi style chickpeas or smoked eggplant mash, the latter two catering to vegetarians, which is essential in an Indian restaurant.
This was no ordinary lunch. The guest of honor was top Indian singer Asha Puthli (above), who had just received a proclamation at City Hall. (Her album covers and one of her Indian outfits are on display this month at The Grammy Museum).
Asha was born in Bombay, and the proclamation was arranged by the Los Angeles Mumbai Sister City Affiliation board, of which I am a member. Afterward, she walked with us to to Badmaash, which is close by.
Asha ordered chicken tikka poutine (above), a bowlful of masala fries, chicken tikka, some sort of spicy sauce and mozzarella--I don't blame her for waiving the mozzarella. The masala fries looked so good I almost pulled one out of her bowl.
The fish, by the way, is authentic, according to my Sindhi friend Mira, who heads the L.A. Mumbai Sister City group. It's coated with chickpea batter and seasoned with ajwain and other Indian spices.
As a gastropub, Badmaash has a beer and wine list, and empty wine bottles serve as water containers. In India, stainless steel cups of water accompany meals. Badmaash follows this custom, but don't drink from the cups. The chemically-treated tap water is so unpalatable that you're almost forced to order from the drinks list.