Asian Street Food - everyone has their own comfort zone - throw the dice and have some fun, or play it safe with hermetically sealed hotel restaurants? Your holiday, your choice, though keep in mind that Mumbai's Bademiya and its competitors on Tullock Road shoot for a happy medium - super busy street food/resto hybrids with more than a nod towards middle-class food hygiene paranoia - disposable gloves for the chef and everything! For Bademiya what probably started out as a simple roadside stall has expanded into a mini empire - HQ is still the stall, but there's a second open-fronted kitchen a few feet away and a shabby seating area opposite - think long queues, white(ish) walls and lots of noise from lots of happy eaters. They're smart cookies as well - cute little menu cards sit in a stack on the corner of the stall, neatly solving the perennial tourist/street vendor problem of "what the hell CAN we have?". Half the menu is "rolls" - I have no idea if these are an authentic part of informal Mumbai cuisine, or a novelty import, but they're what we in Britain would call a wrap - flatbread neatly rolled and tucked in around a wide choice of veg and non-veg fillings.
At 8pm on a Sunday night, they were mobbed, but just about holding everything together - "boys" mingle with the crowd taking orders, which for a simple one-roll order arrives within a couple of minutes. It's all very atmospheric, but not terribly relaxing - impatient Mumbaikers barge everyone aside on their way to collect take-out, whilst the staff do their best to sheepdog wide eyed tourist diners, allowing the odd car to drive through the dining room, sorry - street. I can only imagine what the place is like later when the drinkers emerge from the bars, trying to forget how much they've just overpaid for Kingfisher. For all the bustle though, there's still a nod towards service - patrolling around is a guy with a gleaming metal bowl and a big jug of water - forget your tiny, sealed moist towelette, this is way better.
Bademiya sits front and centre in Colaba Ground Zero, so don't expect to eat for peanuts. My Chicken Tikka roll set me back 110rp but was meaty, gristle-free and perfectly medium-spiced - as much as I enjoyed the thalis on this trip, feeding my inner carnivore is always the gastronomic grail.
Walking across the road to a quieter competitor for Round Two I got to see the whole story close up. The centrepiece of my paneer tikka roll emerged from the fridge ready skewered - tikka-marinated cubes of paneer between sliced green peppers. As the open charcoal grill did its work another chef rolled out a doughball, then flicked this onto a sizzling oiled dome, timed perfectly to emerge as a chargrilled flatbread, first slathered with onion chutney as a bed for the deskewered paneer/pepper kebab mix, then topped of with shredded red onions and finally rolled into a neat cylinder. The verdict? Good, but a challenge - with each mouthful the creamy grilled paneer held its own for a few seconds before being violently kicked off-stage by the explosive, searing chutney mix.
So no excuses people - with this mash-up of street cart and burning charcoal cross-cut with menus, fridges, and disposable gloves, Bademiya and its clones offers tourists a perfectly balanced set of street food training wheels - skip lunch, have a beer or two at sundown to get an edge on your appetite, then go for a spin on Tullock Road.