Artististic Sensibilities Flavor Indian Eatery

anil-bathwalFire. Anil Bathwal ’91 first wielded that element as an art major, often torching his paintings for effect. Now an executive chef, he uses it to forge spicy fare at Kati Roll Company, which he owns with his wife. The couple’s four restaurants, three in New York and one in London, have received rave reviews.

“There is a straight line between my experience at Lafayette and now,” says Bathwal, who came to Lafayette from India with plans to pursue engineering and math. “I took an art course because it has always been interesting to me, and then one course led to another. I changed my major and all turned out fine. That instilled a foundation of confidence in me that it is okay to follow the direction my heart is calling.”

After graduating with a degree in art, Bathwal returned to India. He began as a graphic artist for Ogilvy & Mather in Mumbai. In 2000, he received a promotion and moved to the New York office. His wife, Payal Saha, started Kati Roll Company in 2002.

Bathwal helped with the business from the start, designing the restaurants’ interiors and menus, but became fully involved about a year ago. Now he develops new combinations and spice mixes, tests recipes, and then trains employees how to cook them.

Kati rolls originated in Calcutta. They are made by wrapping warm paratha, an Indian flatbread, around a variety of meats, vegetables, and cheese. Each ingredient is marinated in a proprietary blend of Indian spices, “resulting in a distinctive taste available nowhere else.”

Bathwal’s mentor and honors adviser was Ed Kerns, Clapp Professor of Art. In his work at that time, Bathwal used mixed media and experimented with smart clay, tar, and found objects. He maintains his studio, but the restaurants’ success is taking most of his time. “This passion for my art was nurtured and developed at Lafayette,” he says. “It will stay with me for life. I can dip into that well at any time.”

—Stevie O. Daniels