Thalis of India
It is said that on every 50 km of India, the food eaten differs in its make and taste. So, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to West Bengal, you are sure to find a full-fledged meal cooked with the native flavours of the region. No matter where you go in India, there is a thali meal waiting to be relished. A thali is basically a platter of different delicacies–right from starters to the main course and dessert. For all the foodies on this page, this is a visual treat to acquaint you better with India’s regional thalis.
The Punjabi community is fond of food. They love meals made rich and heavy by extra dollops of home-made butter and the local spices. An ideal Punjabi thali would feature rajma-chole, rice, paneer, naan/ghee-laden chapati, dal makhani, aloo kulcha, butter chicken, makke ki roti, sarson ka saag and so on. Also, the meals are generally washed down by a tall glass of fresh lassi!
The natives of Rajasthan, the land of India’s royalty, are known for their hospitable nature and culinary skills. They do not lag behind the Punjabis, when it comes to eating richly-made food. So yes, there is a Rajasthani thali that serves gatte ki sabzi, ker sangri, kachauris, dal bati churma, ghevar and much more.
The Gujjus are known to be devoted to vegetarianism. Gujarati meals use a lot of sugar (besides salt); and the basic items that form a part of a Gujarati thali meal are thepla, khandvi, dhokla, puran-poli, dal-dhokli, chevdoh, hari and khakhra, undhiyu, khaman, bhusu, fafda and more.
The Marathis love adding a lot of spices in their food. The bhajis are usually made using fish chicken and the veggies sold locally. Plus, a Marathi thali uses different types of pickles to enhance its spiciness. Batatyachi bhaji, vaangyache bharit, danyachi usal, varan bhaat (rice), aamras and puri, puran poli and many other items comprise a Maharashtrian thali.
In Malvan town of Maharashtra, the locals eat their thali with much devotion. So, what makes the Malvani thali a foodie’s dream? It is the combo of well-cooked macchhi (fish), curries, curds, pickles and so on.
The Bengalis love mixing their food artistically in sweet and spicy flavours. Fish is an integral part of their thali meals, and so is mutton. Aloo bhaja, kumro bhaja, potol bhaja, begun bhaja as well as torkari, dal, chutney and payesh are the common delicacies served in a typical Bengali thali. Of course, the mouth-watering desserts like the saundesh, rosogolla, and mishti doi are not to be missed!
A traditional Keralan thali is called sadya. It is an elaborate fare cooked and eaten during Onam, weddings and other festive occasions has no equal. It is served on a banana leaf and features rice, sambar, curd, kosumri, kootu and payasam. All the recipes are made using coconut oil, curry leaves, mustard seeds, milk, jaggery and ghee.
Craving for kokum curry, rice bhakri, kele ambat, vegetable vindaloo and banana halwa? Head to Goa, where you would find it all on a single plate. All these recipes are an important part of a Goan thali meal. Goa being a coastal city, it is very common to find Kokum and seafood in the state.
In Assam, a thali meal is never complete without Khar, a curry made from raw papaya, lentils and powdered dried banana skin. Other delicacies served on the thali include smoked fish/animal meat, rice cooked in mustard oil, onion and chillies, green veggies, fritters and pickles. The meal is wrapped up by enjoying generous helpings of Tenga, a gently spiced sweet and sour fish curry.
The thali meal in Manipur revolves around fish, veggies and sticky rice. The thali, called meitiei, by the locals is laden with delish preparations like anbou (lotus stems), chareng (a fish curry), pakora thongba (gram flour curry), ooti (peas curry), manikha (a mix of brinjal and fish oil), and chak hao kheer.
Mouth-watering, isn’t it?