US-India Global Review

52 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JANUARY-MARCH 2018 with turmeric. One of the most buzzy dishes is brisket, not exact- ly a staple of traditional Korean cooking. For Lee, the restaurant is a playground, where he can serve a meat more often layered between two slices of rye bread than over a bowl of rice with furikake butter. A decade ago, this sort of fare might have been called fusion. But Lee and Drewno shrug at the idea of definitions. "Cuisines evolve," Lee says. "People have their idea that bulgo- gi has to be a certain way and bibimbap has to be a certain way, and anything else is fusion. Or Americanized." "We do whatever we want," Drewno adds. "It's not really something that keeps us up at night." Pawan, Nakul and Arjun Mahendro Badmaash, Los Angeles Nakul and Arjun Mahendro, Toronto-born brothers of Indian descent, insist that their family's Los Angeles restaurant Badmaash is not that kind of Indian restaurant, though it serves samosas and butter chicken. That kind of restaurant has a terrible rap. "Why has Indian food stayed the same for the past five or six decades?" Nakul says. Because, he says, most of the early immigrants pouring into the United States through the 1980s were skilled professionals who couldn't always get work in their fields. "They go out and take any job they can," he says. "A restau- rant job. But they haven't dedicat- ed their life to the craft." Pawan Mahendro, their father, was trained in Mumbai in French and Sichuan cooking before he arrived in Canada in 1982 in search of better prospects. He mopped floors, made salads, cooked Indian food in apartments for parties. "I've been to so many jobs, and they say, 'Let me show you how to use parsley.' " He always humbly took the lesson, no matter how much he already knew. In Toronto, the whole family worked in restaurants. Nakul was starting out as a busboy, and their mother and Arjun settled in on the business side. Pawan opened an Indian restaurant. Eventually, Nakul says, "I wanted to move to New York and work in some fancy restaurant like Jean-Georges." Pawan, who had worked for others for so long, stopped him. Why, he said, would Nakul "help some other guy build his restau- rant?" Together they settled on a move to Los Angeles, where they opened Badmaash with the notion that Indian food has no singular flavor. They serve lamb burgers and chicken tikka poutine (a nod to their Canadian upbringing) in a space decorated with a Warholian mural of Gandhi rocking shades. "I fought with Yelp to be listed as Indian and also New American," Nakul says. "New American kept getting taken off. I kept adding it." To him, it's a sign that while some get what Badmaash is try- ing to do, there's work that remains. "This is the new America," he sighs. "It's the old America as well." Arbol Salsa 14 servings (makes 1 3/4 cups) This spicy green salsa has a fairly smooth, saucy consistency, which makes it great for spooning over Chubbs Tacos. MAKE AHEAD: The salsa can be refrigerated in an airtight con- tainer for up to 1 week. Adapted from "Guerrilla Tacos: Recipes From the Streets of L.A.," "This is about the journey," says chef Preeti Mistry. Photo by Alanna Hale.