As diverse as it could be, India is an amalgamation of different cultures and the culture itself dignifies the food it serves. Local dishes, rustic flavors and bold ingredients, that’s how our food glorifies the nation. Not only the ingredient that goes into setting the dish apart, it’s the technique in which it is cooked.
Whether it’s the famed butter chicken to underrated Assamese cuisine, Indian Thalis have always something exciting to offer to anyone and everyone.
FROM THE EAST:
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A traditional meal in Assam begins with khar(a curry of raw papaya, lentil and powdered dried banana skins) and ends with a tenga(a sour dish). Rice is the most important ingredient in this cuisine.
An assamese thali typically consists of 4-5 vegetarian dishes, a local green vegetable, aloo pitika, kola bora and bora saul.
The traditional meal of assam includes khar, tenga, pura(barbequed/ smoked meat or fish), Poitabhat( cooked rice that is soaked overnight and garnished with mustard oil, onion and chillies), Pickle, Bor/Pokori(Pakoras or Fritters) and Beer( must have beverage which is always served with the meal). To end this heavy heartedly meal, one is offered some refreshing betel leaves(paan). For Desserts, narikoroladdos or even some delicious rice payas are delished.
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Bengalis are not only fond of their maach (fish) but also are some great dessert fanatics. Just like the language, their famed roshogullas and sondeshes are equally sweet and sugar coated.
Having a multitude to flavors, textures, aromas and nutrients, a typical Bengali meal starts with something sour and bitter like fried bittergourd or fried aubergines(baingan)commonly known as begun bhaja. It then proceeds to a platter which consists of shukto(a bitter sweet mix of vegetales, shaak( green leafy vegetable), aluposhto( mashed potatoes with poppy seeds), chholar dal( lentil curry), bhaat(rice), maachbhaja( fried fish), maachkalia(fish curry), kosha mangsho( mutton in thick gravy) and payesh(rice pudding).
People of Sikkim are largely rice eaters though maize too happens to be the staple. Sikkim has a blend of cultures and traditions of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. So does the cuisine of this state.
Momos are consumed in abundance and is one of the dishes in their thali. It’s a mix of steamed and fried goodness. Dalle chili (pickled round chilli) and tomato chutnet, thupka(noodles soup), gundruk(fermented leafy green vegetables0, chhurpi ka achaar( yak cheese achaar), ningro curry(fiddle-head curry gravy), sel roti(doughnut shaped bread), Shimmi ka achaar( string beans and sesame pickle) are commonly consumed in a traditional Sikkim Thali.
FROM THE NORTH:
As Bihar is predominantly a Vegetarian state, the thali consists of Sattuke parathas, Littichokha (Chokha are mashed potatoes mixed with an array of spices), Bharbhara(green gram fritters), DahiChura( curd with rice flakes), Kaale Chane, Gurma( raw mango chutney) and Rasiyaa or even Baalushai
LittiChokha- Signature dish of Bihar, it is made with wheat flour which is stuffed with Sattu(roasted gram flour mixed with masalas) and is baked on pieces of charcoal.
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The lavish spread in Kashmir is known as Wazwan. The thali includes kebab nadir shahi(lotus stem kebabs), rajma rismise( slow cooked kidney beans), methi chaman( Paneer with fenugreek), Kashmiri Dum Aloo, Haak( green leafy vegetable), khatte baigan (spicy and sour brinjal), Mutton Rogan Ghosh( Lamb Curry), Kashmiri Pulao, Al Raita( bottle gourd in yoghurt) and lastly DoonChetin(apple chutney). The feast is ended with Phirni which is a rose and saffron flavored rice custard.
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Punjabis are great cooks and we can judge that from the amount of love that they serve in their meals. Heaps and Dollops of butter and even clarified butter is what that gives that rich taste. I mean you would want to loosen the button of your pants by the end of their feast.
Here’s what goes into in making the famed thali so lip-smacking. Dishes like Paneer Makhani, Pindi Chole, Dal Makhani, Kadi Chawal, Alu Paraha, Makki Di Roti, Sarso Da Sagh. Tandoori Chicken and Butter Chicken for the usual meat eaters. Well, No Punjabi Meal is complete without a huge tall glass of Sweet Lassi. That’s how a Punjabi Meal is done. Are you not drooling yet?
FROM THE WEST:
More than 70% of Rajasthan is vegetarian which makes it the most vegetarian state in India.
Due to the weather conditions and most of the areas covered in desert, Rajasthani cuisine heavily depends on millet, grains and pulses. The thali mainly consists of Dal BaatiChurma, Missi Roti, Gatteki Sabzi, Panchmela Dal, Laal Maas, Bhuna Kukda( spicy chicken), Goond Ka Laddoo, BoondiChaas and a variety of pickles, salads and chutneys.
Gujaratis love their sweets and doesn’t hesitates in adding that sweet element to the rest of their dishes. The Kathiawadi Thali comprises of Khatta Dhokla, GajarMirch Sambhaar( pickled carrots and capsicum),Sev Tamatar nu Shaak(sweet and spicy tomato gravy), rigna palak nu shak( spinach in brinjal curry), Dal Dhokli,Methi Thepla, Kadhi Khichdi, Kesar Shrikhand and Chaas.
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Maharashtrians have a spicy appetite and it clearly reflects in their thali as well. The traditional thali will showcase the staples of the state which includes Bhakri Roti, Bharli Vangi(stuffed brinjal), pitla(thick chickpea flour), Amti( spicy and tangy toor lentil) , Pandhra Rassa( chicken in white gravy), Mutton Kolhapuri, Sabudanavada and most importantly KothambirVadi. Maharashtrians are too fond of their sweets and they mostly prefer Kheer and Basundi to cool down after that spicy roller coaster.
Goan cuisine and sea food is a match made in heaven. No meal is complete without some meaty goodness. A typical goan meal would consist of steamed rice, sheet kodinustea( fish curry), Kismur( salad made with grated coconut and pan fried prawns), Poi( a butterfly-shaped bread), Mackerel Rawa Fry along with Sol Kadhi( Kokum- coconut milk drink).
FROM THE SOUTH:
Sadhya is a grand meal in Kerala served on a banana leaf with about 26 delicious dishes. Beans Thoran, Aviyal (avial- thick mixture of vegetables and coconut, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves), Pulissery, Vegetable Stew, Erissery (pumpkin), Rasam, Buttermilk Sambhar, Coconut Banana Fritters, Thenga Choru(coconut rice), Pachadis (chutney) and many more are relished from one single meal. Desserts like Ada Pradhaman(rice and jaggery pudding) and Sharkara Varattti( banana chips with jaggery) is traditionally served.
Coconut is the primary component used in most of their dishes.
Fun Fact: South Indians prefer to eat their meals on banana leafs because they all restrain themselves from using any sort of plastic.
Their meal starts with dollops of ghee on their rice for a royal taste with Muddu Pappu (lentil) followed by Rasam known as Charu, Avakaya (mango pickle), Parippu Podi (powdered lentil mixed with spices), Dondakayya Veppudu (ivy gourd preparation) and Vankaya Kothamira Kaaram (Brinjal preparation).
For desserts, they love their Rawa Laddoo and Bandhar Laddoo
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Chettinad cuisine is the cuisine of a community called the Nattukotai Chettiars or Nagarathars as they call themselves from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu.
Considered to be one of the spiciest thalis, it consist of Murungakkai Kara Kozhambu (Drumstick Sambhar), Palakkai Pirattal (Raw Jackfruit Stir fry), Kootu (Lentil with vegetables), Meen Kuzhambu Fish Curry), Kozhi Varuval (Pepper Chicken), Appalam(Papad), Rice, Curd and Pickle.
Take some time off and try pronouncing these dishes right before you eat them 😛
There are many more thalis of different regions unknown to many. Let us know if yov have tried any!
“A recipe has no soul. One has to bring soul to the recipe”