"The idea, the concept was to build something about the human body. It was something where it was all about inhale-exhale. The theory behind what we had in mind was the blacks and the whites, which is her, and the color that cuts it which is grey, that's me"
Conversation with siblings - Amit & Bhavna Dhanani from B.A.D Cafe, off Perry Cross Road.
B.A.D, a tapas bar which is now two months old is the best thing to have happened to this city in many years; Great artisanal coffee, tapas like food and Yoga all bundled into one place split into three levels - Soul, Body and Mind.
Medium&Rare : "How did this entire idea come about?"
Amit: "Well the idea is something very personal. The concept of 'Bringing A Difference' came with the reason; we been through a lot in life and it just happened that we both had a downfall in life and decided to join hands and do something that would make a difference here, that's what we've been trying to do with our passion - Music & Yoga. Since I was ten-eleven I started cooking watching my mother in the kitchen. It was just rustic homely food that I enjoyed and always wanted to make in my kitchen. She (Bhavna) was the push needed for the project, said "Start cooking for the world, you've been cooking enough at home all these years". So I started with this whole culinary bliss, everyday I would start from scratch and put a dish on, write a blog post and eventually few months down we both felt that we can do something about this since people were responding in a positive manner saying why dont you open your own thing."
Medium&Rare : "How would you decode B.A.D?"
Amit : "Our requirement was hidden bungalow. The idea, the concept was to build something about the human body. It was something where it was all about inhale-exhale. The theory behind what we had in mind was the blacks and the whites, which is her, and the color that cuts it which is grey. that's me. I am the grey that fills her Black & white.
The architect who has also been my sister's mentor for many years, understood the concept and he build on it, the flow that has happened in the facade is basically his idea of flowing hair strands made of 25,992 pvc pipes. The idea was of soul, body and mind. Soul was what we wanted to offer the people with food, body was what we wanted to offer with the movement-Yoga, and the terrace was where you cultivate you the mind with a traveller's library.
So with B.A.D, the bringing a difference, to bring something in Mumbai which means to us what we are, where we are brought up, a mix of culture of India and Spain."
Medium&Rare : The design, was this how you guys visualized this space from the begining?
Bhavna : I was very particular about the color, It had to be black and white. In terms of the exterior facade, we had another rendered option at the architect's office which was a Bamboo & Green plantation structure, but this theme of pvc pipes protuding out of the wall running in a flowing manner was immediately more indentifiable and relatable with the both of us. The interior too, It had to contain a lot of white and what other color to compliment white other than black. It's raw, it's soul of the place and speaks a lot about minimalism. I think we set-out a theme initially about yoga and human body, senses and emotion, and the architect did connect with the brief so well and this beautiful design came into existence.
Medium&Rare : Tapas food is how you would describe B.A.D's cuisine?
Amit : More than tapas it was a traveller's menu that we had in mind. Wherever I have travelled, I wanted to bring those flavours to India. It's mainly Spanish and we wanted to basically start with the typical rustic tapas-small plates. All the crockery comes from Spain and Morocco while the cutlery is made in Muradabad. I've spent over six months to detail every single aspect of the kitchen, until I didn't have that I didn't want to even open the place.
We wanted to bring the exact same Spanish culture here in terms of food portions and authenticity of the cuisine. A lot of people come, some of them crib that the portions are really small. What's really happened here is that there's a misconception here, with a few Spanish tapas place here that serves huge portions or some people mix South-American cusine with Spanish where the portion sizes are huge because it's a different land and culture altogether. When you come to a typical tapas the plate will have a maximum diameter of 12-13 cm and the culture is such that people usually come to tapas and order 10-12 different plates and share between themselves.
Also the people here are used to just big bites and hot food, while in the tapas culture especially in the south of Spain where we come from, there are a lot of cold dishes that are a part of the regular menu like these 'Patatas Alioli' which are boiled potatoes in Alioli sauce with pickled olives, there's a lot of flavour in that cold dish. I do 'Sardinas Vinagreta' which are 'Sardines', people here call them 'Tarli'; So it's a fish which you marinate for more than 24 hours and it cooks by itself in the vinaigrette and it tastes beautiful, even better than sautéed or fried fish. So I have slowly introduced a few cold dishes here at B.A.D as well. It's this goal of bringing an experience of subtle delicate flavours, that is what I am about.
What we initially had in the first month was phase one, now what you see is phase two. In the next six months when the final menu rolls out, you will see a menu that educates people about what type of food suits different body types, the cold wave and the heat wave that we have inside of the body. There's a whole progressive idea to this kitchen, we'll all grow together, we are not gonna rush into anything. I believe slow and steady we'll reach there.
Medium&Rare : So where does coffee fit into this whole idea?
Bhavna : We wanted to people to question what is this place! What is B.A.D? In one word it's an experience. There's a whole coffee culture that we also wanted to bring into the city. Our first theme in-fact was coffee. More than the food we wanted the people to get addicted to our coffee, it's artisanal unlike any of the mainstream brands .
Amit :There's a lot of depth, a story behind coffee. Soon we'll be teaching about coffee through workshops and small courses. I want to change Mumbai's perseption about what coffee is, educate people about it because I believe coffee is the future especially artisanal coffee and lot of people will jump into it in the next few years. Around the world the culture of coffee has expanded, people are doing their own roasting, making their own blend, sourcing beans, they are curating it themselves. That's what we are doing too, we are sourcing coffee from different parts of South India and we have our own roasting process to create a unqiue taste that we like, also to get the right balance in flavour. Currently we are doing a medium roast, later we want to go ahead with the medium dark roast that has a stronger body and perfect for people drinking espresso. So in six months time or a year's time our place should become a speciality place for coffee that no one else is doing.
Medium&Rare : "BAD Yoga, how's it placed in this triangle of tapas and artisanal coffee?"
Bhavna : "Actually Yoga was our initial priority, but it was not at all feasible to have all three floor just for one purpose. So the top is a travellers or readers section while the ground is for food and coffee, the upper floor is largely dedicated to yoga, currently the morning hours.
Yin is a form of yoga that people are still little skeptical about, as opposed to the more traditional form it's an oriental form that's performed at an even slower pace- two to three minutes. It's not about losing weight which it anyways shouldn't be. I run these sessions Tuesday to Friday, 9 to 10 in the morning at the upper floor. The tables go away and the space transform into multiactivity studio. We also want people to use that space for hosting workshop, showcasing independent movies, basically do a lot of creative work."
Bhavna is a Yin Yoga instructor, one of the first in India and trained by Sarah Powers, pioneer of the same form. She has over 200 hours of Hatha Yoga from London and Morocco under her belt, also similar hours of Asthanga Vinayasa in Goa and 100 hours of Yin Yoga in Thailand. (courtesy-The Sindhian)
Medium&Rare : "As a project that you had in mind, where do you see B.A.D after a couple of years?"
Bhavna : "He(Amit) has a five year plan. I used to be planner, but now I just go with the flow. It's the other way round now; he used to be going with the flow and I used to be planner. We do not want to expand in this country; if it's India, it's Mumbai, if it's Mumbai, it's Bandra, if it's Bandra, then it's this place."
Amit : "I have four-five cities which are my favourite ones, so in the next five years after two years I plan to have two more branches. Firstly one between Dubai or Barcelona and the next one between Vietnam or Norway. These are places where I have travelled and strongly connected and I have my closest people there."
It's difficult to put B.A.D in a nutshell, it has it's own distinct style slash vibe that draws you to it. The quaint neighborhood, inviting front facade, and coffee that can turn any non-coffee person to love it's Bon-Bon style espresso or the warm mint foam induced Yang-over-Yin. They are different in their own ways and definitely here to stay.
Connect with B.A.D :
Twitter : @thebadcafe, Insta : @thebadcafe, FB : /thebadcafe