10 Indian Thalis You Must Try At Least Once

Indian thali | © GracinhaMarco Abundo /Wikimedia Commons
Indian thali | © GracinhaMarco Abundo /Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Poonam Binayak
India Writer4 February 2018

Indian thali is a wholesome meal that packs an assortment of food items on a single salver. Each region has its own unique take on thali that takes you on a gastronomic journey of the country. Here are some of our favourite Indian thalis.

Rajasthani Thali

Drenched in ghee (clarified butter), the traditional Rajasthani Thali is rich, colourful and regal just like its culture. A typical Rajasthani thali includes dal baati churma (round-shaped breads with variety of lentils), gatte ki sabzi (gram flour balls in curd gravy and spices), rotis of bajra, jowar, makka or missi roti (breads of pearl millet, corn or whole-wheat flatbread), panchmela dal (concoction of five different lentils), ker sangri (pickle), boondi chaas (flavoured buttermilk), pulao (steamed rice) and papad. For dessert, there is goond ka ladoo (edible gum sweet), moong dal halwa or Imarti (circular flower-shaped dessert). All in all, it is a gastronomic delight!

Rajasthani thali | © Niranjan.gohane / Wikimedia Commons

Kannadiga Oota (Karnataka Thali)

Kannadiga Oota is a blend of flavours from its neighbouring communities and regions. A traditional spread is served on a banana leaf, and includes kosambari (south Indian salad), pickle, palya (vegetable side dish), raita or gojju (vegetable cooked in tamarind juice), payasam (sweet dish made of rice and lentils), jolada roti (sorghum flatbread), mirchi bhajji (chilli fritters), akki roti (rice flatbread), thovve (cooked dal), huli (a thick broth of lentils and vegetables), ranjaka (chilli-garlic chutney), padavalkayi masala (snakegourd curry), chitranna (rice-based dish), plain rice and ghee.

North Karnataka meal | © Sarvagnya / Wikimedia Commons

Kerala Thali

Traditional Kerala thali is flavoursome and filling, complete with generous use of coconut milk, coconut oil, curry leaves and rice. Served on a banana leaf, it comprises of avial (mixed vegetables), puliserry (spiced coconut and yogurt gravy), fish curry, thoran (coconut-based vegetable dish), sambar (lentil-based vegetable stew), papadum, pickle, pachadi (side dish curry of coconut, cucumber and yogurt), rasam (spicy soup) and olan (white gourd in coconut milk). For dessert, there’s ada pradhaman (steamed rice flakes and jaggery pudding) and sharkara varatti (banana chips with jaggery).

A traditional Onam Sadhya can have up to 26 items per meal | ©Rameshng/Wiki Commons

Maharashtrian Thali

Maharashtrian Thali is a scrumptious mix of veg and non-veg options. However, you can choose what comes with your thali. Rich in flavour and spices, a traditional Maharastrian thali consists of kothimbir vadi (coriander fritters), bhakri roti (millet flatbread), pitla (chickpea flour curry), bhajis, like vangyache bharit (eggplant-based dish), batatyachi bhaji (dry potato sabzi) or matkichi bhaji (sprouted moth beans curry); amti (tangy curry from yellow lentils), mutton kolhapuri (spicy mutton curry), andhra rassa (chicken in white gravy), kosimbir (salad), puran poli (sweet flatbread) and a refreshing glass of yogurt-based drink (mattha).

Maharashtrain thali | © Advaitj11 / Wikimedia Commons

Kathiawadi Thali

Kathiawadi thali is a vegetarian platter that comes from Kathiawar, a peninsula in Gujarat. It is typically spicy along with a tinge of sweetness. The thali includes sev tamatar nu shaak (sweet-spicy tomato gravy), tindora nu shaak (sweet-and-savoury ivy gourd), kathiawadi dhokali nu shaak (wheat flour dumplings in spicy gravy), bharela ringan(stuffed eggplant), rotli (flatbread), bakhri (bread of pearl millet), tikhari (spicy, tangy curry) and vaghareli khichdi (a mixture of rice, lentils and spices). Indispensable components of Kathiawadi thali are buttermilk and kesar shrikhand (saffron-flavoured sweet yogurt). During the mango season, the thali also contains aamras (mango pulp). Drooling already?

Kathiawadi thali | © Alex Cheek / Flickr

Goan Thali

Seafood, fish and rice are Goa staples. There are thalis for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, but non-veg thali is much more popular and readily available. A typical Goan thali includes sheet kodi nustea (fish curry rice), kismur (dry prawns salad with grated coconut), cabbage foogath (steamed cabbage veggie), prawn caldin curry, pork/vegetable vindaloo, kele ambat (plantain gravy-side dish), poee (Goan bread) and Goan babana halwa (dessert). Cap off your meal with sol kadi (kokum-coconut based drink).

Bengali Thali

Bengali thali is synonymous with fish and rice. Mutton and goat meat is also a popular choice. This thali usually feature non-veg delicacies that have subtle yet fiery flavours that will keep you hankering for more. The specialities include shukto (sweet-spicy soupy mixture of vegetables), patol bhaja (pointed gourd fry), shak (leafy vegetables), chholar dal (lentil curry), alu bhaate (potatoes mashed with rice), begun bhaja (pan-fried brinjal), machher jhol (traditional fish curry), maach bhaja (fish fry), mutton curry, chadachadi (char-flavoured vegetable dish), sweet-tangy chutneys (mango, papaya, tamarind, etc). The scrumptious meal is to be finished with mishti doi (sweet yogurt) and payesh (rice and milk pudding).

Traditional Bengali thali | © Sarmistha Bera / Wikimedia Commons

Punjabi Thali

Punjabis are hardcore foodies, and the Punjabi thali is proof! Known as the ‘Bread Basket of India’, the food of Punjab is lively and bursting with flavours that will keep you hooked. The signature delicacies include pindi chole (spicy chickpea curry), Amritsari aloo kulcha (stuffed flatbread), dal makhani (mixture of black lentils and red kidney beans), pakoda kadhi (fritters in yogurt gravy), jeera rice (blend of rice and cumin seeds), pickles of cauliflower,carrot and turnip, and a sweet lassi (yogurt or buttermilk drink). Other signature dishes include Sarson ka saag (vegetable dish) and rajma chawal (red kidney beans in thick gravy). The non-veg platter includes butter chicken and succulent Amritsari fish. It is, indeed, a wholesome meal that will guarantee foodgasm!

Assamese Thali

Assamese cuisine is characterized by slow cooking, strong flavours and more sparing use of spices. Abundance of endemic plants, vegetables and animal products are used in their daily cooking. The thali will have khar (raw papaya, dried banana skins and lentils curry), masor tenga (light fish dish), narasingh masor jhol (authentic fish dish), poitabhat (rice-based dish), pitika (side dish of mashed vegetables), pickle and bor (fritters). For dessert, there’s pitha (rice cake) to complete the meal.

Assamese thali | © Subhashish Panigrahi / Wikimedia Commons

Kashmiri Thali

Kashmir isn’t just a treat for the eyes and camera lens, but also a delicious treat for the palate. Meat and rice are the popular items savoured in the Kashmir Valley. A ceremonial feast is called Wazwan, which is essentially meat-based platter. But that’s not just it, there’s more to it! A typical Kashmiri thali includes Kashmiri dum aloo (potato-based dish), kebabs, rogan josh (lamb-based dish), yakhni (yogurt-based mutton gravy), Kashmiri pulao (spicy rice with assortment of nuts and dried fruits) and khatte baingan (saucy aubergine). The meal is accompanied with pickles, yogurt and salads. To round-up this delicious meal, there’s phirni (saffron and rose flavoured rice custard).

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