It was after 12 years of living in Mumbai, that yesterday I went for my first Ganpati Puja hosted in someone’s home. A dear friend, who hails from Kerala, hosted some friends and myself, his family gave us a very warm welcome. The reason why I mentioned where he hails from Kerala, is the reason why this blog came into existence. For lunch, we were served a quintessential Malayali Thali. And for a true-blue carnivore from Bengal, it was quite something else and you know what, I loved it! So in reverence of that plate full of love that I had for lunch yesterday, here is a list of the top thalis from all over India.
Thalis = Awesomeness on a plate
The thali (Hindi for “the plate”) has its origins in South India, given its orientation around rice (as compared to the north’s orientation around wheat). A thali is traditionally eaten with your fingers and the left hand is used for pouring the curries onto your rice and to grasp your drinking glass.The rice sits in the center of the plate; you divide off a portion of the rice and place the different curries or vegetables on top of that portion (rather than pouring the sauce over the top of the whole pile of rice on your plate).
This concept is essentially an urban delight now, which epitomises a plate of food from a particular region, and can also be called a platter. It encapsulates its speciality and puts together its bread and rice along with the most iconic dishes. In this blog, we round off the top thalis that you must try out in India!
The Kerala menu is cooked in coconut oil with coconut being a major ingredient in the dishes. Desert is served earlier here. With Palada Pradhaman being milk which is rice flakes garnished with some saffron, cashew, it is best enjoyed warm, but that’s a personal call. A ginger and coconut chutney are served in the side as a digestive aide.
The Vendakka Kichadi a traditional Kerala dish prepared by adding okra to coconut and yogurt mixture and seasoned with mustard, curry leaves and red chilies. A Sadya is incomplete without olan. Made using black eyed peas, white and yellow pumpkins, the coconut milk brings in a unique flavor for this dish.
Kaalan is a yogurt-based dish, this richness of freshly ground pepper makes this raw plantain and yam curry makes it unavoidable. Next comes Rasam or Sambhar. The uniqueness of Kerala Sambar is that it is prepared by grinding coconut with spices like coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chili. A mixed vegetable curt with a base of yoghurt or sour green mango. Called Aviyal it’s a chief dish. Along with this comes the Cabbage Thoran which is essentially cabbage stir fried with coconut and green chili. A puli Inji or a tamarind sauce dip using ginger and green chilies will you on your toes. And along with this comes the goodness of Papaddum and banana chips! Vegetarian heaven this is! Thanks Biju for this!
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Food from the North East relies heavily on the non vegetarian palate. A wide variety of pork and beef curries, pickles are on offer. Alongside that, you will see bamboo shoot chutneys and plenty of flavours derived from herbs. Thalis are served in bell metal wares called Kahor Taal. The traditional meal of Assam includes khar (starter), tenga, purr (barbequed/ smoked meat or fish), Poitabhat(cooked rice is soaked overnight garnished with mustard oil ,onion , chilli, pickle, pitika etc), Pitika( very important dish in the cuisinethe very popular is aloo pitika), Pickle, Bor/ Pokori ( Pakodas/ fritters) and rice beer ( this the primary beverage served with the meal). For sweets they have a variety of Pitha, a sort of pancake stuffed with jiggery or other good things, and to end the meal, a betel nut is offered.
For those who like it hot, this one is for them. An array of chutneys and pickles will make your journey anything but boring. Rice and Rasam are the prerequisite of this meal. But the meal starts with a powdered lentil which is eaten with rice, helped along with a helping of ghee. A brinjal and ivy gourd preparation typically comes next. A tomato chutney flavoured with chillies is also a great accompaniment. A kadhi kind of preparation with a yoghurt base and gram flour mix. A tangy Rasam and a dal comes next and a mango pickle also adds flavours in the mix. Curd is served at the end to finish off the dish.
It's a conglomeration of the stars of Tamil food. Starts with the sweet Payasam. Vadas made of dal, Koothu, Sambhar and Rasam are all dishes that are served here, along with with a yoghurt based Thayad Pachadi, pickle, Appalam and Curd. For the non vegetarians, Chicken in Chettinand curry is a delight!
A thali as royal as the state itself, reflecting the colours and tradition that the geography stands for. The main thread of the thali are the breads or the rotis they use. Bajra, Makka or Jowar is used to make it.
Dal baati churma is the most loved and endeared food item in Rajasthan. Small, round breads are made of flour and deep fried in ghee. One can go for plain baatis or the ones that are stuffed with onion, peas, lentils or sattu.
Pyaaz kachori, khoba roti, missi roti, jowar pyaaz roti are some of the other local hits. Gatte ki Sabzi is also a regular component of the Rajasthani Thali. For the non vegetarians an addition of Lal Maas or Safed Maas is made. Drinks of lassi or chaasis offered and to end the Dawat, there is Moong ka Halwa , imrati or Rasgulla for your sweet tooth. Did I say Yum.
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Simplicity is the key to a Maharashtrian thali. It consists of salt, wedge of lime, a fresh chutney, achar (pickle), a raita (vegetables or fruits in spiced yogurt), rice wafers and pakoras. So in a thali one could look at some cucumber in yogurt, Rotis, rice, Simla mirchi / bhopli mirchi chi peeth perun bhaaji (bell peppers subzi), batatyachibhaaji(potato subzi), besan laddus or Pooran Poli. Mamti, AAmras and green chutney will be surved in the side with a pickle. Lip smacking this is! A Konkani Thali is a sea foodaffair though. With solkadi, fish fry a a coconut based fish gravy. Bon Apetite!
Their food is said to be on the sweeter side, but opinions aside, there are very few things more delicious than a Gujarati Thali at an authentic sit-down place Start off with the Farsans, so typically a good Khatta Dhokla should kickstart the ride for you.Some green chutney in the side with some vegetable pickle. Tomato sabzi with sev is quite a regular, along with some quintessential Gujarati Kadhi. Top Off the thali with a helping of Amras during the mango season, and some Shrikhand as desert. The thali is eaten with Phulkas or steamed rice, and a glass of Chhas washes everything down.
Very simple food but delicious nonetheless, is the signature of the thali from Haryana. Relying heavily on breads , so rotis made of Bajra, jowar, and in the farms and fields roti is eaten with chillis of onions too, for the farm steady. Typically a thali will habe a Gajar methi sabzi or vegetable, a Masala Khichdi, Aam ki Sabzi, Kadhi Pakoda, Raita with potatoes, Roti and butter, and Parathas. Jeera rice is also on the menu, some Masala Chhas to wash it all down and end it on a sweet note with some Also ki Pinni, which is essentially laddus made of flax seed. Those with cavities, better watch out!
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