Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Gujarat, a relatively small Indian state nestled on the Arabian Sea and against the Pakistani border, is famous for its vegetarian cuisine, reflecting Jainist, Buddist and Hindu influences on the culture. If you cannot make the trip, head down to 409, Third Avenue (at 29th Street), open the door to Vatan (above) and ring to announce your arrival. When the bell quiets, your hostess will have arrived and you will find yourself welcomed into a beautifully imagined Gujarati village (below), complete with banyan tree and balcony seating.

Your elegant hostess may well sweetly remark at the beginning of the meal that you should think of her as the Indian mother you never had (Yuk)! You will be promised to be well fed and promptly served. If after all that hyperbolic swash, you are hungry then boy have you struck gold here.

Traditional Gujarati meals are served on a thali "silver platter," with each dish in little metal bowls along with rice, puri, and a selection of chutneys. Vatan serves its meals in three courses (appetizers, main course and dessert) and allows diners to return to any part of the all-you-can-eat meal to savor more of their favorite dish. Although a 'prix fixe' menu, diners can select the level of spiciness, from mild to very spicy.

Very few, if any, are disappointed that it is vegetarian cuisine and most, again probably all, customers wander out of the door back into the streets of New York with a feeling of repleteness and well-being.

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