I just love thalis. From a foodie’s perspective, they are the perfect way to sample a regions cuisine in one healthy and well balanced meal. So what exactly is a thali?

The word “Thali” actually means “plate” in Hindi, and when you order a thali this is essentially what you will receive.  A stainless steel plate with several small bowls each with a different dish.  There is usually at least one variant of dahl, a couple of vegetables, some curd (yoghurt), pickle, rice, chappati or puri and papad.  Occasionally you may also receive a sweet.

Thali’s tend to be found at lunchtime and in the local (and relatively cheap) eateries. Sometimes the more expensive restaurants will also have a thali on the menu, but they tend to be the domain of the working class, which means the food is authentic, fresh and seasonal.

A few years ago I did a little thali challenge in Mumbai. I had brunch in small eatery in Colaba, ordering the Rs50 vegetarian Thali.It was sensational!  That evening I went to the most renowned Indian restaurant in Mumbai (at the time) and ordered their vegetarian thali for Rs1,350.  The two meals were incomparable.  The former was fresh and full of flavour, whilst the latter resembled something I could have whipped up out of a jar. It was a real disappointment.

So for me, the best thali’s are the ones where the queues are out the door, the service is minimal and I have to request a spoon to eat with.

The proof is really in the tasting, but since you can’t do that online, to whet you’re appetite, here are some of the fabulous Thali’s I have eaten recently.

Thali – Ooty

Sambar, Rasam, 3 vegetables, cauliflower pakoras, rice, chapati, pappad, curd, pickle and sweet

Thali – Kochi

Black bean dahl, pickled beetroot, vegetable, carrot salad, rice, papad, pickle

Thali – Haridwar

Paneer, 2 vegetables, salad, naan, curd, rice, papad

Thali – Mysore

This was my lunch today. Sambar, Rasam, 3 vegetables, coconut rice, plain rice, curd, puri, papad, pickles.

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7 thoughts on “Foodie Post: The Thali

  • December 24, 2013 at 12:07 am
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    Nice post, I had never heard of a thali before but now I can’t wait to sample :)!

    Reply
  • December 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm
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    You have my mouth watering…been so long since I saw or ate one being in this fish-land for so long…..India is surely a foodie’s paradise with so much to offer for the vegetarians in particular..

    Reply
  • December 13, 2011 at 5:06 am
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    We have a place here in Canberra that does a truly excellent vego thali, but I can’t help but think that yours might just top them. Enjoy!

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    • January 17, 2014 at 8:04 am
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      What is the name of the place in Canberra?

      Reply
  • December 13, 2011 at 4:18 am
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    I reckon you could easily write a blog just on what you’re eating every day Raks! It’s fascinating. I think one of the biggest attractions is the colour and vitality on the plate. It just looks so good you know it’s gonna taste good too 🙂

    Reply
    • December 13, 2011 at 10:28 am
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      Haha, I have considered writing about my good adventures everyday, I do tweet photos of food most days 🙂

      Reply

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