New Roots

New Roots

The flavors at Pataka, a new vegetarian Indian restaurant on Howe Street, are as bright as the electric pink and orange decor. Inspired by the street food of India, Pataka’s menu is packed with fun, portable snacks and meals meant to go—though a few tables inside and stools out on the porch make it possible to sit down with friends.

Prominent on the menu are mix-and-match Bowls ($8.95-$12.95) of the type you’ll find at nearby Junzi or Salsa Fresca, except at Pataka you’ll order off the menu rather than from a counter display of food. And every “protein” choice here is vegetarian or vegan: tofu, paneer tikka, roasted veggies, mixed beans, veggie croquettes (made with beans, lentils and assorted vegetables), jackfruit meatballs and Impossible meat. I chose the jackfruit on a bed of brown rice with quinoa and roasted veggies finished with a sauce of yellow dal, but I could have opted for salad or several other bases as well as six other sauces.

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The jackfruit—a type of breadfruit grown in the tropics, which is best known for shredding like meat when roasted—was rolled into small balls and lightly fried. Its consistency was meaty, with a savory flavor courtesy of Indian spices. Alongside roasted cauliflower, broccoli, red pepper, potatoes, green beans and a few slices of pickled onion, this was a filling meal in itself, comfort food for a fall evening.

Beyond bowls, Pataka’s creative menu also includes Dosas ($5.50-$7.95), Kati Rolls ($6.50) and a range of Street Snacks ($3.25-$6.75). I took home a generous order of Masala Dosas ($7.50)—plain crepes with potato filling enlivened by a dip in sambar (a lentil and vegetable soup)—and a small bag of Idli Fries ($4.75)—wedges of deep-fried rice and lentils inspired by a traditionally steamed dish now rebooted for snack time. The fries were especially tasty dipped in their accompanying spiced mayo.

My favorite item, however, was the Chana Kulcha ($5.50). Pita bread served taco-style with a paper wrapper to hold together its delicious messiness is stuffed with a winning combination of textures—the bite of garbanzo beans, the crunch of red onion—and flavors—the sweetness of pomegranate seeds and ginger tamarind chutney and the astringency of tomato, with a whole medley of spices. The entire creation comes topped with tiny shreds of chick pea noodles. Co-owner Harry Singh says he’s thinking of giving street tacos like this one a menu category of their own.

Pataka also offers three desserts ($3) and beverages including mango or mixed-berry Lassis ($3.95) as well as beer. Dietary restrictions can be accommodated, and, as applicable, items are marked as gluten-free, vegan and “contains nuts.”

Singh, who co-owns Pataka with his brother Romy, is no stranger to New Haven’s Indian food scene. He also owns House of Naan, and his father, Indi Singh, owns Sitar. Pataka, however, is designed to fill a different niche. “The industry itself is moving toward fast casual… but COVID kind of sped that process up,” Singh notes. “Everybody is on the go-go-go. They just don’t have that much time to sit down.” Meanwhile, he adds, there aren’t enough vegetarian and vegan options in New Haven. Pataka aims to help satisfy the demand.

The restaurant’s name, Pataka, means “firework,” Singh says. He wanted the restaurant to have a bold name because “usually when people think of vegetarian food, they think ‘boring.’” Pataka, he says, is here to prove that image wrong. “Because of all the flavors we’re using in the cuisine, it’s like fireworks in the mouth.”

140 Howe St, New Haven (map)
Daily 11am-10pm
(203) 891-5133
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Written by Kathy Leonard Czepiel. Images 1 and 2 provided courtesy of Pataka. Image 3 photographed by Dan Mims.

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