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Kaathis brings flavors of Kolkata to campus

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Kaathis brings flavors of Kolkata to campus

The inside of Kaathis on the corner of Lincoln and Belden avenues, infuses Indian cuisine with fast-food trends to create something entirely new.

The inside of Kaathis on the corner of Lincoln and Belden avenues, infuses Indian cuisine with fast-food trends to create something entirely new.

Varsha Kadamandla / The DePaulia

The inside of Kaathis on the corner of Lincoln and Belden avenues, infuses Indian cuisine with fast-food trends to create something entirely new.

Varsha Kadamandla / The DePaulia

Varsha Kadamandla / The DePaulia

The inside of Kaathis on the corner of Lincoln and Belden avenues, infuses Indian cuisine with fast-food trends to create something entirely new.

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Kaathis, a new fast casual restaurant on the corner of Lincoln and Belden Avenues, offers a highly thought-out menu of fast, fresh and healthy bowls and rolls. It takes its name from the restaurant’s specialty: kaathi rolls. Consisting of skewered meats and vegetables wrapped in a flatbread called a paratha, the kaathi roll is a beloved street food from Kolkata, India, and is now available for hungry people in Lincoln Park.

Upon moving to the U.S. from India in the early 2000s, owner Aditya Burman started making kaathi rolls for friends at barbecues.

“People really liked that concept.” Burman said. The idea to open a fast-casual restaurant evolved from there.  “In the diverse spectrum of food in the U.S., Indian fast food has not found its space and I think there is a space.” To separate Kaathis from other Indian restaurants, Burman and his girlfriend Sandhya, some of whose recipes are featured on the Kaathis menu, stuck to what they know best. “We didn’t want to go into the traditional curries and rice; there are a lot of restaurants that do it very, very well,” Burman said. “That’s not us. That’s not my speciality either; this is what I’ve grown up on.”

The peppered lamb kaathi roll is Burman’s mother’s recipe. “I got it from her and unfortunately she passed away in 2016,” Burman said. “I have a sentimental connection to that roll.” The mango shake is also special to Burman, who grew up eating fresh mangoes during summers in India. Made with Alphonso mangoes, the shake does not contain any added sugar. 

Varsha Kadamandla / The DePaulia
A traditional kaathi roll served at Kaathis, the new fast-casual Indian eatery.

Providing healthier options to diners in a hurry is also a priority at Kaathis. Though the menu is small, Kaathis has something for everyone, including vegan and vegetarian items. For the allergy conscious, the menu also has gluten-free and soy-free options, such as the Kaathis version of chilli chicken. Traditionally made with soy sauce, Burman’s girlfriend, who is allergic to soy, created a soy-free version of chilli chicken. None of the food at Kaathis contains nuts and nothing is ever deep fried.

Before opening up a brick and mortar restaurant, Burman tested the market. “We tried delivery, we tried catering, did popups, all kinds of events and our feedback was very positive,” said Burman. “The next logical step was to find a location.” The location Burman found is prime. Kaathis is located directly across from Halligan Bar, a spot very popular with people in their 20s. On weekends, Kaathis is open late, so hungry bar-goers can stop in for a kaathi roll after drinking.

Kaathis is also great for lunch and dinner. Burman is also toying with the idea of serving breakfast. While Kaathis has very limited seating, the restaurant is very inviting. “We want people to believe they’re coming into our home and dining with us,” Burman said. Black and white pictures of India hang on red walls decorated with hand-done stenciling.

For students looking for an alternative to the usual burrito bowl from Chipotle in between classes, Kaathis is also near the DePaul Lincoln Park campus offers a 15% student discount for its delicious and healthy Indian food. 

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Kaathis brings flavors of Kolkata to campus