It is way past midnight, but one alley in Colaba is still buzzing with activity. People in long white chef’s caps are twisting rotis in the air, putting another dollop of butter on a iron stick full of sheekh kebabs, just before putting them in the tandoor. A man with a stubble, a pen and paper in his hands shouts to the waiter, informing him of another order.
All of these while hungry, tired, and sometimes hungover customers — some regulars while some who are new to the city — wait, in their parked cars or on the road.
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For over 60 years now, Bademiya, easily among the best seekh kebab brands in this part of the country, best known for its lamb boti, has been keeping late night hunger pangs at bay.
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“It’s a legacy that I am taking forward,” says Salman Sheikh, grandson of the original ‘Bade Miya’, who keeps a close eye on the business.
The store was started originally by Mohammad Yaseen six decades ago when he arrived from from his village in Uttar Pradesh as a 13-year-old. Rumours have it that the youngster started a small-time business of cutting and supplying meat to hotels, which he then gave up when his religious guru directed him towards kebab-making.
The store was opened at one tip of Colaba, in 1946, as a late-night snack option for naval officers living nearby, long before the city’s night life became as busy as it is now. Today, the place is managed by the third generation of the founder’s family.
“As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. The name and fame of Bademiya came with the responsibility of living up to the expectations of the people who have a lot of memories attached to the place,” says Salman, the current owner.
“We’re here today because we had come for a movie at Regal,” says Gayatri J, while placing her order while her family waits in the car. “But sometimes we just drive down all the way from Chembur just to grab a bite at Bade Miya. With the Eastern Freeway, it’s quite easy now,” she adds.
The waiters this year are much enthused as Bade Miya plans to set up a stall at Mohammed Ali Road during Ramzan next month, though it necessitates much longer night shifts for them. It is promising great business, they say.
Recently, the restaurant launched branches including a fine dine restaurant in a bylane of Colaba and one at Horniman Circle. “The new branch at Horniman Circle is specifically for our niche crowds but we equally love our adventurous eaters at Colaba,” Salman adds.