If you are looking to know what heaven on earth feels like, look no further! Thali, as the name suggests, is a plate mainly made of steel where food is served with several small Katoris (bowls) filled with different veggies or meat delicacies.
Thalis can be vegetarian or non-vegetarian. For Indians or those who have ever visited India, you would know that thali is like the go-to order at restaurants in India when you want to try out a few dishes together rather than just one or two from the menu. Depending on where you go, thalis can comprise anywhere from 10 to 30 items, which vary from appetizers to desserts, and they vary in prices.
Thali is not something made frequently in Indian households because of the tedious preparation that goes into it, except if there is a celebration like a wedding or a festival. However, to get the best experience, you must have thali at a restaurant that specializes in it, where they will treat you like a king and have well-dressed uniformed servers, who will seat you down.
Then, you will be served one after the other with the various items in a steel bucket or three-pronged serving containers, not just once but multiple times, until you are full and cannot eat anymore. These restaurants charge a fixed amount per person, and you can eat as much as you like or unlimited as they call it in local terms.
Fair warning – Only order a thali if you have built up an appetite for it because believe me, once the excitement dies down, the worry of how to finish the items on your plate kicks in.
N.B. In India, religious places of worship serve a thali to its community members on their visit.
What Goes into Preparing A Vegetarian Thali?
- Appetizers (one or two)
- Vegetables of course 😊, two or three different kinds
- Lentils or beans such as a yellow split lentil, chickpeas, green moong, black-eyed beans, Rajma
- Roti or Puri
- Dal or Kadhi
- Sides such a Salad, Pappad, Raita, Chaas, and Pickles
The Thali I Prepared Comprised:
1: Sukha Batata Bhaaji: Sukha Batata Bhaaji also known as dry potato vegetables is mainly made of boiled potatoes and fresh spices like ginger, garlic, curry leaves, green chili, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, and salt. This dish is made all over India.
2: Tindora Nu Shaak: Tindora nu Shaak or Tindora (ivy gourd) vegetable is a vegetable grown in southern India. It looks like a mini cucumber and is enjoyed with Roti (round wheat bread). This dish is made by everyone, but I have used the Gujarati name for it, as that’s where I learned to prepare and consume it. Gujarat is a state on the west coast of India.
3: Chole Masala: Chole also known as chickpeas is a dish enjoyed by one and all. It is the staple food of north Indians but given equal love all over India and around the world. It is paired with Bhatura (Deep-fried bread made of refined flour) or Puri (Deep-fried small wheat bread). Chole masala is basically chickpeas cooked in various powdered and whole spices, along with onions and tomatoes.
A tip to get that beautiful dark color is to boil the chole with a tea bag.
4: Chana Dal: Lentils are a great way to incorporate proteins into your diet, especially if you are vegetarian. One can have it plain like a soup or pair it with rice, naan, or roti. Lentils are prepared and enjoyed all over India in different ways and forms.
5: Jeera Rice: Jeera rice or Zeera rice as they call it in Hindi is rice cooked with some sautéed cumin seeds. For an added flavor, you can add some ghee (clarified butter). This rice is thoroughly enjoyed all over India and Pakistan.
6: Puri: This is a deep-fried bread made of whole wheat flour that can be eaten for breakfast, as snacks, or even paired with different vegetables or curry (gravy).
7: Patra: A dish from the western coast of India, which is basically a dumpling made of leaves and covered with powdered spices, mixed with either rice flour or chickpea flour. This dish is always served as a snack or paired with other food items.
8: Mohanthal: A traditionally Gujarati sweet dish made of besan (chickpea flour), ghee (clarified butter), sugar, and dry fruits.
9: Carrot Pickle: As the name suggests, it is pickled carrots in oil and a few spices, an excellent accessory to any Indian dish.
10: Raita: Raita is a dish made up of yogurt and grated vegetables such as cucumber, beetroot, and onions. Some people add a little salt and cumin powder.
As you can see, I had ten items on my thali that ranged from appetizers to desserts. A totally wholesome and satisfying meal that requires you to take a nap after 😊
- Thali: steel plate on which food is served
- Katori: Bowl
- Roti: Whole wheat bread
- Puri: Whole wheat deep-fried small pieces of bread in the shape of mini pancakes
- Bhatura: Deep-fried bread made of refined flour
- Dal: Lentils
- Raita: Yogurt side dish
- Chaas: A yogurt-based drink consumed for rehydration and digestion
- Pappad: A thin disc-shaped food typically made of black gram flour (urad flour) which can be made fried or roasted.
About Ofira Samson
My two biggest passions in life are travel and food.
Just as every trip has a unique experience and story to tell, in the same way, I find that the food from every place around the globe has its own unique taste and flavors that just give joy to your soul.
Alan D. Wolfelt states,
“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.”
I love eating at local restaurants, but more than that, I love to recreate the same dishes in my kitchen. I find cooking and baking as all the therapy I need to get me through this thing called LIFE. For more updates, follow me on Instagram. Also, feel free to dm me for any recipes you like.