Thalis: India’s Regional Cuisine on a Plate

There was a time when Indian restaurants served either ‘North Indian’ or ‘South Indian’ cuisine. Despite the fact that India is overflowing with dishes unique to the region, town or even household in which they are prepared, food eaten outside of the home was somewhat lacking in variety. Cooking for yourself or eating at friends’ houses would reveal the range of tastes and flavours India’s cuisine brings with it. Eating out, however, you would find yourself faced with either a paneer makhani(northern) or masala dosa (southern).

Today, you can sit down for a delicious Indian meal in many restaurants and discover the real India. You can sample dishes that take you on a culinary journey around the country, from Jammu and Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, and from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh. And one dish that showcases the variety of Indian cuisine is the thali. In the UK today you can order an authentic Hyderabadi thali, a Gujarati thali or a Keralan thali from Indian brasseries and restaurants.They may not be labelled as such, but you know you taste the very best of India’s regional variety.

Travel to India and the choice is even more varied – something that wasn’t the case a few years back. There you can choose from an Odisha thali, a Maharashtran thali (vegetarian or non-vegetarian), a Sindhi thali, a Goan thali, an Assamese thali, a Naga thali… You get the picture: there are a lot of thalis about.

A thali provides the diner with a perfectly balanced meal that is ideal when you are unsure what you want to eat. Thalis consist of little bits of everything, meaning you can dine in the knowledge that the combination of food in front of you is the perfect blend of flavours and textures. It also means that the chef is able to take the very best of certain regions and combine them to create thalis that taste great and appeal to everyone.

Thalis are one of the most delicious and inexpensive meals you can eat if you are travelling around India. The same can be said for the thalis that are served in restaurants in the UK as well. Served on a large platter, a thali consists of a number of katoris (small bowls) which are filled with dal, curries, sabzi and curd. Rice plays a central role in a thali and is placed in the centre of the tray.As if that wasn’t enough, some thalis also come complete with bread (naan or rotis), as well as pickles, chutneys and salad, too.

If you are keen to try a delicious, yet inexpensive thali? The thali is the cornerstone of the menu at these Indian eateries and come in different sizes. Feeling particularly peckish? Then order the grand thali which is equivalent to a starter and main course combined. For a lighter option, there is the regular thali – perfect to fill a gap at lunchtime. There’s even a loyalty club meaning you can earn points as you eat.