We're sure you already know what it is, but for the uninitiated, the humble Indian Thali is a composite and wholesome meal which is basically a combinations of various delicious dishes served on a single plate. You have small katoris (bowls) full of dishes like rice, dal , sabzi , curries and curd. You're also served different types of breads (rotis, naan, etc.) along with sides of paapad , pickle and salad!
What's more, almost every Indian state and/or region has it's own distinctive version of the "thali," made to suit local tastes and cooking styles. Here are a few that you should definitely try.
1. South Indian Thali
Indians are known for elaborate meals and the South Indian thali is the best example of it. There is no 'rule' to this thali and it contains liberal helpings of rice, sambhar, kootu ( vegetables curry cooked with lentils), kosumri, paapad, curd and for desert, there's akkaravadisal ( a sweet made with rice and lentils) to complete the meal.
2. Chhattisgarhi Thali
Chattisgarhi thalis are a long, drawn out yet totally delicious affair. You'll be spoilt for choice with dishes like fara, rice pakoras, dehati vada and muthiya. The Chattisgarhi Thali stands out with it's variet of breads like angakar poori, paan roti and chusela. In desserts, watch out for the gulgulle, kusli and sweet fara.
3. Kathiawadi Thali
This plate can be a bit intimidating. Mostly because the names of these sumptuous Gujrati dishes are so hard to pronounce. Most of the dishes have a sweet taste to them, even the ones which are supposed to be savory or spicy! Signature dishes include raasawala dhokla, bajra bhakri, methi thepla, kathiawadi akha adad, Gujarati dal, chaas and gol papdi. Phew! Quite a mouthful, no?
4. Bhojpuri Thali
The Bhojpuri thali can surprise you with its multitude of flavours. The crispy bharbhara,
the usual dahi chura for breakfast, golden brown sattu ka paratha, ghugni, the kala channa curry, besan ki sabji/ besan ki machhli and the sweet raw mango curries will take you on a culinary journey like no other.
5. Maharashtrian Thali
Maharashtrian cuisine is characterized by mildly spicy food. It usually features a few non-veg items and the dishes actually vary in different parts of Maharashtra. With sweets like aamras and sheera, the thali is certinaly not lacking when it comes to desserts. Maharashtrian thali automatically goes up by a level. Then you have your sabudaana vada, a refreshing glass of mattha, kanda poha, danyachi usal and the awesome pav bhaji, which rounds up this spectacular all-in-one meal.
6. Goan Thali
Who knew Goa's cuisine could be as awesome as Goa's beaches? Goan food is synonymous with sea food, rice, coconut, fish and yes, kokum! You have Goan rice bhakri, Goan daali thoy, kele ambat, vegetable vindaloo, Goan kokum curry and Goan banana halwa to top it up!
7. Haryanvi Thali
The Haryanvi thali is really simple. And it is really tasty! Of course, there are large helpings of home made ghee, curd and butter. The specialities are; kachri ki sabzi, hara dhania cholia, mithey chawal, alsi ki pinni, malpuas, khichdi and kachi lassi.
8. Assamese Thali
A traditional Assamese Thali presents a burst of fresh and unusual herby flavours. Rice is accompanied by the popular masor tenga (fish in a sour gravy) and khar, a vegetable preparation made using dried banana skin and a meat dish, usually either a chicken curry or duck curry with ash-gourd. Kharoli , a paste mustard seeds rolled into little balls and bamboo shoot chutney is offered as a taste-enhancer on the side. Typical Assamese aloo pitika (mashed potato) consists of boiled egg and mustard oil. The sumptuous meal is to be finished with Assamese payox (kheer).
9. Rajasthani Thali
From gatte ki sabzi to daal-baati churma to khichda to laal maas to bajre ki roti to lahsun ki chutney... to... well, you get the point. The Rajasthani thali is the qunitessential Indian thali. You have stellar dishes like the mawa kachori from Jodhpur, juicy sweet rasgulle from Bikaner and malpuas from Pushkar. tasty treats from every nook and cranny of Rajasthan come together on plate for a food experience of a lifetime.
10. Meghalaya Thali
People from Meghalaya like boiled veggies a lot as they are considered to be very healthy. Puklein is another delicious snack available all over Meghalaya. Black sesame is used in almost very dish. For example, the special dal, "daineiiong" is incomplete without it.
It seems that when it comes to Indian thalis, too much of a good thing is actually good. Go pig out on a plate or two.
Many of these awesome images have been sourced from Manjula Bharath's blog. Do check it out here .