Vatan is surprisingly one of those transforming experiences in New York City. The distinctive door decorated by an Indian elephant beckons you to enter and be transported to a village in the Northwestern Indian state of Gujarat.
Once you enter and are seated your meal is pretty much left in the capable hands of the chefs at Vatan. The food here is all vegetarian and served in thali’s in two courses followed by dessert. A thali is an Indian meal served on a platter consisting of several small dishes.
At Vatan one can get as many refills on any of the courses as one desires however, the helpings are rather generous and going for seconds and thirds requires seriously empty bellies.
The appetizer thali consisted of 8 offerings which ranged from tiny samosas that were perfectly fried to spongy ‘Khaman” made from steamed chickpea flour.
The entire menu is based on typical Gujrati dishes. Some of my favorites were the “Ragda Patties” which are a popular street snack of potato cutlets smothered with a spicy white pea gravy.
I also loved the ‘dahi puri’ and ‘spiced chickpeas’.
I also loved the ‘Muthia’which is another steamed chickpea flour dish.
Along with the appetizers comes out a thali of chutneys and pickles. We tasted everything from date chutney to spicy pickled carrots (my favs).
The entrée thali consisted of dishes such as Toor Dal (boiled lentils in Indian spice mixture), Bhaji (sautéed spinach & corn), Batakanu Sak (potatoes cooked in mild red gravy and more.
We also got an additional thali of rices – Pulao (boiled white rice with peas), Khichdi (lentils mixed with rice and assorted vegetables), and Kadhi (soup with yogurt and spiced chickpea flour).
One of the simplest dishes we tried and loved was their “Rotla” which is a flatbread made from black millets served with a spicy garlic chili chutney, powdered jaggery and ghee.
One can’t leave without dessert which consists of Indian flavored ice creams and a hotgulab jamun.
We had a wonderful meal at Vatan. Each dish and course is a different experience as is the place. And for those of you who worry about this being a vegetarian restaurant – you will not miss the meat at all.