Monday, July 11, 2011

Indian feasting in Atlanta with my parents:)

I just got back from a fantastic trip home with my parents (who also happen to be my most dedicated readers) and they were excited to take me to a couple Indian restaurants to help with my armchair travels this month! Mom and I have been Indian food fans for a few years now, so I already know many dishes I'm a fan of, but mom managed to find a new style of Indian food to introduce me to - thali from Indian state of Gujarat.

We drove to Marietta, GA (about an hour from where my parents live) to visit Vatica Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, which drew my mom's attention while reading reviews online. The restaurant has a lot of fans of not only the food , but also the gregarious owner. When we walked in he greeted us and asked how many of us there were and when we said three, he responded "Three...? Where's four???" and since my sister is in England my mom responded right away, "she's in England visiting her boyfriend", to which the owner replied "I thought I was her boyfriend!!!" followed by a burst of laughter.....oh man, I think the best part of talking him was how he cracked himself up every time we talked - really jolly, lots of fun. He dropped by the table a few times and was very sociable and welcoming without being obtrusive or awkward.

When we sat down, the owner said "We have no menu, we will feed you" - typical of Thali style dining. Thalis are meals consisting of small dishes, usually arranged in small metal bowls on a metal tray:

Gujarati Thali

Thalis generally consist of two or three shaak (curries made with different vegetables), pulses (made of beans) dal (soup often made with lentils), aloo (potato curry),  raita (spiced yoghurt condiment), chapati bread and papadam crackers, and chutneys.  In looking at my thali above, you can plainly see the rice, folded chapati bread, and papadam, and spiraling left to right you see a small bowl of delicately sweet mixed fruit chutney (including fresh strawberries & grapes), creamy raita - perfect to temper the heat of other meal components,  a savory veggie curry,  flavorful potato curry that was my favorite component,  a kidney bean curry (not my fave, but my parents liked it), and some dal.

Mom and Dad enjoying their thalis
We munched away for a while, and then a waiter came around with a push tray and began serving us second helpings of whatever we wanted. I had lots of the potato aloo and papadams...mmmmmmm.  Despite how the serving sizes may appear small at first, with subsequent additional helpings we all got quite full. After we ate, the owner offered us some masala chai. When he asked us if we wanted ours with milk and cream, my mom asked him how he liked his, he joked that he sticks to moonshine:) My chai was yummy, but rather rich for me - I'm usually a black coffee and tea type of girl! 

mmmmm, Masala Chai Tea....

Overall, our experience was quite pleasant. The food was tasty and we enjoyed thali-style dining. The restaurant had a "hole-in-the-wall" type appeal, and the owner's friendliness and welcoming spirit made our meal quite enjoyable.

Mom and I are huge Indian food fans, and we actually ended up getting a second Indian meal during my visit, this time going to the lunch buffet at The Cloves Indian Restaurant.

Mom and Dad at The Cloves lunch buffet
The Cloves has a nice lunch buffet, with fairly typical offerings that were nicely executed. They brought a bunch of delicious fresh-made naan to the table, and we loaded our plates up with rice, curries, pakoras and salad, and were pleased to have a nice assortment of chutneys. They had a couple soups in the buffet, including one with really tasty corn and veggies in a seasoned coconut milk broth. yummmm. I got so full I could barely try any of the desserts....I have little willpower at Indian buffets:)

I had a great time visiting my parents and indulging in some of Georgia's finest Indian cuisine!!!


  1. You started something Nikki. I haven't been able to stop thinking about Indian food since you left Sunday...not good for my diet ;-)