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Pia Mileaf-Patel

$35 a person

            Sorry it’s been a month since I last posted! I just took the SAT yesterday and now I have an extra minute in my day (junior year is actually as bad as they say), so I’m going to write about Vatan.

            Vatan’s traditional Guajarati thali is perfection. The only bad part is that I can never manage to eat as much food as I wish I could with unlimited refills of anything from tiny, crispy samosas to lentil salad to spinach curry to creamy mango ice cream (and everything in between).

            When you go, you walk down a short hallway into a big room with a tree that brushes the ceiling. The ceiling is painted like sky and there are canopy roofs over some of the tables, while others are close to the floor and you can sit on cushions. Besides having good food, Vatan is a very fun/weird/exciting/delicious experience.

            I particularly like how you don’t have to order anything. I hate being confused by menus (not that that would ever keep me away from food…) but at Vatan, you just pick the spice level. I recommend the normal amount, but mild is better if you don’t like spice.

            First, they bring a plate of various salads, yogurts and fried pakoras, samosas and breads. One thing in this spread is steamed flour, which admittedly does not sound particularly appetizing, so I was pleasantly surprised by how good it is. When I was there with my friends, we couldn’t resist ordering more samosas, but there’s so much food it’s hard to pace yourself.

            It’s authentically vegetarian, which is great because a lot of my friends are (why fight the teen girl stereotype, right?). It’s much more relaxed than trying to figure out dim sum. So although you may not remember what everything on the plate is, you know it won’t have meat.

            The main course comes with rice, sticky rice and yogurt sauce—I could eat a meal of just that. The platter has many dishes ranging from spinach with corn (my favorite thing, maybe) to rice pudding. There are stews and sauces and delicious, crunchy and doughy deep fried pooris to go with everything.

            I think that Vatan’s thali is the best Indian food I’ve had in New York. Next time I go, I’m going to try the salty lime soda. Maybe if I write that down on here I won’t let myself back out and get a mango lassi again, perfect as it may be!