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The quintessential Indian thali is a cultural journey of discovery on your plate. A complete meal in itself, a thali packed in small portions from a variety of dishes on a tray.
Each region has its own version of the thali and as you move from region to region you will be greeted with a new platter of its own elaborate menu. That's what the thali does, where you can eat a bit of everything. , the best way to discover any regional cuisine.
“India is so unique that in the three houses in a row you can find three different recipes for the same dish. Every kitchen has its own cookbook, unlike the rest of the world. ”Unknown author
As diverse as they are, all Indian Thalis serve local and seasonal dishes and showcase popular indigenous cooking techniques such as Dum (steam traps), Baghar (tempering), Zammin Doz (baked) and Dhunnaar (smoky flavor) are some of these.
Let's have a look at 20 delicious Indian thalis from across the taste. So get your toungue rolling.
Aalohir Exaj / Assamese Thali
A traditional Assamese meal starts with a unique dish called khar (a curry made from raw papaya, lentils, and powdered dried banana peel), followed by pura (smoked meat or fish), poitabhat (cooked rice soaked overnight and garnished with mustard oil, onions and chilli peppers), pitika (a kind of puree), shaak bhaji (green leafy vegetables), bor (fritters) and pickle. The meal ends with a typical Assamese preparation, tenga, a lightly spiced sweet and sour fish curry that would leave you to lick your fingers.
A typical Andhra Thali is only complete when it is served on a banana leaf. Andhra meal begins with a generous dose of hot neyyi (ghee) served over hot rice along with mudda pappu (lentils). This is followed by Charu (a version of Rasam), Avakaya (mango pickle), Parippu Podi (flavored lentil with spices), Vankaya Kothamira Kaaram (eggplant preparation), Dondakayya Veppudu (ivy pumpkin gourd preparation), to end up with a generous dose of Perugu (curd rice).
The flavors of a happy Bengali thali stay with you long after you have eaten. A real feast for fish lovers, the Bengali Thali includes typical delicacies such as Bhaja (fried eggplant), Patol Bhaja (pointed gourd fry), Shukto (a sweet and sour vegetable mixture), Shaak (green leafy vegetables), Alu Bhate (mashed potatoes), Chholar Dal (lentil curry), Bhaat (rice ), Maach Bhaja (fish fry), Maachher Kalia (fish curry), Kosha Mangsho (lamb in thick sauce) and Payesh (rice pudding).
As a predominantly vegetarian thali, the Bhojpuri thali is as diverse and amazing as the state of Bihar. One of the main ingredients is sattu (roasted Bengali gram flour) while the main technique is bhoonjna or light frying. A typical Bhojpuri Thali are Bharbhara (green gram fritters), Dahi Chura (yoghurt with rice flakes), Sattu Ka Paratha, Litti Chokha (wheat doughballs and Bengali gram flour), Kaale Chane (Bengal gram curry), Gurma (raw mango chutney), Rasiyaaw (sweet rice) and balushahi (a sweet).
As one of the spiciest and most aromatic thali in India, the Chettinad Thali has a special place on the culinary map of the country. This thali includes murungakkai kara kozhambu (drumstick sambar), Kootu (lentils with vegetables), palakkai pirattal (raw jackfruit stir fry), poriyal (dry vegetables), Meen Kuzhambu (fish curry), Kozhi Varuval (pepper chicken), appalam (papadam), rice, curd and pickle. Simple, hot and very traditional!
The Goans are known for their Kodi Nustea (Fish Curry Rice), which will blow your mind with its mix of spices and rice. The most popular thali of seafood lovers, a Goan meal includes boiled rice, kismur (a salad made from fresh grated coconut and pan fried dried prawns), kodi (fish curry), prawn caldin (mild curry), tisreo sukhem (sautéed small clams), rawa Fry mackerel, Kohlfoogath (steamed cabbage vegetables), Poi (goa bread in the shape of a butterfly) and the refreshing Sol Kadi (coconut milk drink with added Kokum).
Himachali Dham Thali
The Himachali Dham Thali, mixed with a variety of traditional herbs and spices, is incredibly delicious. The Dham starts with patore (steamed and fried colocassia leaves), mhani (cooked raw mango, crushed with jaggery and rock salt), madrah (yogurt based Chickpea curry)), Mathri Choware (lentil fritters in spinach gravy), mashed dal (dark lentils) and Khatta (a sweet and sour sauce), served with rice and Khustado (poppy seeds and jaggery). Non-vegetable delicacies, if included Khatta Murg (chicken with local spinach, malora) and Chaa Ghosht (lamb in yogurt gravy). Dham inevitably ends with the delicious mittha, a caramelized sweet rice dessert, generously mixed with raisins and dried fruit.
Kannadiga Oota Thali
A typical Kannadiga Oota (Karnataka thali) is a beautiful blend of different flavors. This thali is bursting with diversity and includes jolada roti (sorghum flatbread), akki roti (rice flatbread), padavalkayi masala (snakegourd curry), badane ennegai (stuffed eggplant), ranjaka (chiligarlic chutney), gattisoppu (lentil and greens) . mirchi bhajji (chilli fritters), Kosambari (Moong Dal Salad) and a bowl of homemade yogurt.
Rich and aromatic dishes with tradition adorn the heavenly Kashmir thali. The ultimate ceremonial festival in Kashmir is known as Wazwan and its preparation is an art in itself.
This thali includes Nadir Shahi Kebab (lotus stem skewers), Rajma Rismise (boiled beans), Methi Chaman (cottage cheese with fenugreek), Kashmiri dum Alu (potatoes in nutty gravy), Haak (green leafy vegetables), Khatte Baingan (hot and sour eggplant), Lamb Rogan Josh (signature Kashmiri lamb curry), Kashmiri Pulao (hot rice with nuts), Al Raita (bottle gourd in yogurt) and Doon Chetin (apple chutney). The party ends decadently with Phirni, a rice pudding flavored with rose and saffron.
Straight from the heart of Kathiawad, the classic Gujarati Thali has a lot to offer. Most Gujarati dishes have a subtle sweet taste that sets them apart from other Indian cuisines. This thali includes Khatta Dhokla (Gujarati snack), Gajar Mirch Sambhaar (pickled carrots and capsicum), Sev Tamatar Nu Shaak (sweet and hot tomato gravy), Rigna Palak Nu Shaak (spinach in eggplant curry), Dal Dhokli (Dhokla in lentils ), Kathiawadi stuffed onions, Methi Thepla (a flatbread), Kadhi Khichdi, Kesar Shrikhand (sweet yogurt with saffron flavor) and Chaas (buttermilk). If you're lucky and if its mango season, this thali is also accompanied by a delicious aamras dip (mango pulp).
The simple, seasonal Kumaoni Thali is a regional culinary gem. This traditional Uttarakhand thali includes Gahat Ka Shorba (lentil soup), Alu ke Gutke (hot potato chips), Kappa (green leafy vegetables), Phanu (complex gravy made from three types of lentils), Jholi (curd and chickpea curry), Thechwani (radish and potato mash), Bhatt Ki Churkhani (black soy bean curry), Kafuli (spinach and fenugreek curry), Sana Hua Nimbu Mooli (tangy radish salad), Lesu (millet finger stuffed bread), Meetha Bhaat (sweet rice), Jhangore Ki Kheer (local millet pudding) and Singal (sweet Semolina spirals).
The Maharashtrian Thali beautifully displays the traditional and delicious staple foods of the state. From mild to very hot, this smacky thali includes rice, bhakri roti (a millet flatbread), bharli vangi (stuffed eggplant), Amti (spicy and tangy tur lentils), pitla (thick chickpea flour curry), kothimbir wadi (coriander cutlet), chawli chi usal (black-eye bean curry), pandhra rassa (chicken in white sauce), lamb kolhapuri (fiery lamb sauce), kosimbir (salad in yoghurt) and kheer (rice pudding).
The Manipuri (or meitiei) thali is simple, tasty, and focuses on fish, seasonal vegetables, and sticky rice. Manipuri or meitiei thali includes eromba (fermented hidol and vegetables), sinju (local cabbage and vegetable salad), thanbou (lotus stems), ooti (curry peas), chareng (a fish curry), pakora thongba (flour and chickpea curry ), Manikha (a mixture of eggplant and fish oil), kangsoi (vegetable stew), chambut (boiled papaya), kangsoi (cooked dried fish) and of course a hot mustard chutney.The perfect end to the meal is Chak Hao Kheer, a wonderful dessert made from purple black rice, generously mixed with powdered cardamom.
Kerala Sadhya Thali
A multi-course meal traditionally served on banana leaves, the Sadhya, or traditional festival, is an integral part of Onam, Kerala's largest festival. Sadhya Thali includes a variety of traditional dishes such as sambhar, parippu curry (lentil curry), puliserry (cucumber in yogurt), olan (white gourd in coconut milk), aviyal (mixed vegetables), thoran (stir fried vegetables), kalan (flavored yogurt curry), kichadi / pachadi (cucumber and coconut in yogurt) as well as delicious desserts such as ada pradhman (rice and brown sugar pudding) and sharkara varatti (banana chips with jaggery.
The rustic and robust Oriya Thali, with its focus on lots of vegetables and the limited use of spices and oil, is one of the healthiest thalis in India. The thali includes roti, rice, phakala (fermented and spiced curd curd), dalma (characteristic dish made from lentils and vegetables), karela bhaja (bitter gourd fries), alu posto (potatoes with poppy seeds), baingan chatka (roasted eggplant puree), phulgobi Kosha (dried cauliflower curry), Tamato Khatta (sweet and sour tomato and hot date chutney) and the divinely delicious Kanika or Meethi Khechudiya (sweetened rice-lentil khichdi).
Parsi bhonu thali, a thali with perfect combination of Iranian, Gujarati and British influences in its food. Contains rice, saria (parsi papad), patrani machchi (lightly seasoned steamed fish), dhansak (exclusive mix of lentils, meat and vegetables), chicken salli (chicken curry), farcha (fried chicken), lamb chops and custard lagan nu (wedding styled) custard. A versatile mix of spicy and sweet, nice and spicy!
Punjab is a state that stands for food and its thali is very similar to its people: rich, robust and full of life. Powerful textures and hearty ingredients make up this popular thali, which includes Amritsari Aloo Kulcha (stuffed flatbread) or naan, Kadhi Pakode (fritters in yogurt curry), Pindi Chole (hot chickpea curry), Shahi Paneer (rich cottage cheese gravy), Jeera rice, dal makhni (black lentils) and sweet lassi. The most popular star delicacies of the dish without vegetables are butter chicken and amritsari machchi (deep fried fish).
A traditional Rajasthani thali is a sophisticated variety of gourmet preparations that will delight everyone. Local hits for this thali are Dal Baati Churma (round breads with lentils), Missi Roti (wheat and lentil flatbread), Gatte Ki Sabzi (gram flour nuggets in gravy), Panchmela Dal (combination of 5 types of lentils), Laal Maas (spicy meat curry), Bhuna Kukda (slow-cooked chicken curry), Goond Ka Laddoo (a kind of edible sweet gum), Boondi Chaas (flavored buttermilk). To add another delicious layer to the food, there are salads, papads, pickles and chutneys to choose from.
The Sikkimese Thali is full of flavors and a delight for gourmets. It contains momos (steamed dumplings), dalle chili tomato chutney, thukpa (noodle soup), gundruk (fermented green leafy vegetables), chhurpi ka achar (yak cheese pickle), ningro curry (fiddle head curry), sel roti ( Donut-shaped bread), shimi ka achar (string beans and sesame pickle).
There's no such thing as a classic Tamil thali as each district and community in the state has its own unique recipes, but Sappadu has some popular staples like poriyals (curry), kootu (mixed vegetables), mangai pachadi (mangoes with tur dal), Paavakai (stir fried bitter gourd), Kuzhambu (stews), Thakkali Rasam, Chinna Vengayam (small onion) Sambar, Thayir (curd circle) and absolutely delicious Pal Payasam (rice pudding). Add it to the culinary specialties of each district and you will know why this thali promises a gastronomic adventure!