Thali: A personal buffet brought to you on a platter!
A Thali is essentially a creative way of serving a variety of food items on one platter. As I’d like to call it “a personal buffet brought to you on a platter”. Different States showcase their regional cuisines by serving up dishes that are native to that region or State. The most popular and distinct thalis can be attributed to the States of Punjab, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Bengal, Maharashtrian, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
As you move from one region to the other, you’ll discover a new Thali , with new food items on it. No particular thali is better than the other; they are all unique in their own special way.
‘Thali’ in Hindi simply means a tray or plate made of metal- typically steel, copper or brass. A number of smaller bowls called katoris are used as cups to line the thali and filled with delicious appetizers, curries, sides and condiments. Rice and flatbreads are typically served in the center. The thali not only looks brilliant but tastes amazing with flavors ranging from sweet to sour to spicy and pungent. This is Indian umami or a feast for your senses.
The thali is a nutritionally well balanced meal that features a flatbread (roti, chapatti or naan), rice served with dal or 'sambar' (vegetable stew made with lentils and spices), two sauteed vegetable dishes, 2 curried items (chicken, lamb or vegetables), spicy pickle, sweet chutneys, 'pappad' and a sweet dish.
Traditionally thalis are eaten with your fingers. In some places such as Kerala, the thali is served on a banana leaf; that imparts a special flavor in itself when the hot food touches the leaf.
As a rule of thumb don't mix all the elements of the thali together. The thali offers a variety of flavors so be sure to savor the offerings in different combinations, as your taste buds decide. Start with the appetizer, usually a pakora or a samosa. Then move on to the curries dipped with naan or mixed in rice, perhaps a dhal or simmered lentils. The ratio of curry to rice or flatbread changes the taste of the bite so be sure to find your happy medium. Take a bite of the side dishes such as sautéed vegetables along with the curried rice or naan. Trust me it works!
Next, you can cleanse your palate with some rice and rasam, a clear pepper broth. Your final serving of rice is eaten with yogurt, with a dash of salt and a hint of spicy pickles. The yogurt is supposed to cool and cleanse your palate. Dessert, often a rice pudding or gulab jamun, follows. This is always eaten by itself, never mixed with rice or dipped in flatbreads.
At our Saffron Bistro in Liberty Heights/ Sugar House we offer a variety of thalis, including a Vegan and Gluten Free Thali. Thalis are served every day during lunch from 11am-2:30pm on weekdays and 11am-3:30pm on weekends. Open Sundays.
With so many features and benefits packed into one dish, what’s not to love about the all-Indian Thali? So come check it out for yourself.
479 E 2100 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Tel: (801) 203-3754