India is a country of diverse cultures and food is big part of that. So, when you talk about good food choices, Indians have a list longer than an annual budget speech! Whether it’s Bihar’s Litti Chokha or Punjab’s sarso da saag and makki ki roti, Kolkata’s Rossogola or Chennai’s Chettinad chicken, each of our states has its own mouth-watering food varieties.
But how would one know what’s best and what to eat when you travel across India? The simple and best way to explore the best varieties of each state is to try a thali. A thali is an Indian name for a platter of the best dishes from a particular region.
Let’s explore some of the best thalis served in various states of India –
A Kashmiri celebration feast is also known as Wazwan. The feast itself tells the history of the invaders as it includes a mixture of both typical Brahmin cuisine and the royal touch of the Mughal delicacies. This thali includes kebab nadir shahi (lotus stems kebabs), rajma rismise (slow cooked kidney beans), methi chaman (cottage cheese with fenugreek), Kashmiri dum alu (potatoes in a nutty gravy), haak (green leafy vegetables), khatte baingan (spicy and sour brinjal), mutton rogan josh (signature Kashmiri lamb curry), Kashmiri pulao (spicy rice with nuts), al raita (bottle gourd in yoghurt) and doon chetin (apple chutney). Dessert generally comprises of rose and saffron flavoured rice custard called phirni that’s bound to make your day!
Just like the sweet language and sweet people of Gujarat, most of the Gujarati dishes have a subtle sweet taste. This thali includes khatta dhokla (Gujarati snack), gajar mirch sambhaar (pickled carrots and capsicum), sev tamatar nu shaak (sweet and spicy tomato gravy), rigna palak nu shaak (spinach in brinjal curry), dal dhokli (dhokla in lentils), Kathiawadi stuffed onion, methi thepla a flatbread), kadhi khichdi, kesar shrikhand (saffron flavoured yoghurt sweet) and chaas (buttermilk). And if you are visiting Gujarat in the mango season then Gujaratis won’t let you leave without treating you with the best aamras (mango pulp dip) in the world!
When you think about North-East, you can picture a modern day India with some great music and of course non-vegetarian food. The Manipuri thali is a true representation of this modern outlook that the Manipuris have, with a mixture of both non-vegetarian spicy dishes along with healthy leafy salads and soups. Manipuri or meitiei thali includes eromba (fermented hidol fish and vegetables), sinju (cabbage and local greens salad), thanbou (lotus stems), ooti (peas curry), chareng (a fish curry), pakora thongba (gram flour curry), manikha (a mix of brinjal and fish oil), kangsoi (veg stew), chambut (boiled papaya), kangsoi (boiled dry fish) and, of course, a mustard chutney. A beautiful purple hued black rice dessert generously laced with cardamom powder known as chak hao kheer is served as the sweet dish in this thali.
All the fish lovers raise your hands up, because here’s a thali which you will fall in love with at the first sight… oops I mean taste. A Goan thali includes steamed rice, kismur (a salad of fresh grated coconut and pan-fried dry prawns), kodi (fish curry), prawn caldin (mild curry), tisreo sukhem (small clam stir fry), mackerel rawa fry, cabbage foogath(steamed cabbage vegetable), poi (butterfly shaped Goan bread), and the refreshing sol kadi(kokum-coconut milk drink).
Kerala Sadhya Thali
As beautiful and serene as Kerala is, so is its thali. Served on a clean and fresh banana leaf, this thali has so many varieties that you might have to take a day off from all other work to indulge in the taste of each of them. The sadhya thali includes a variety of traditional dishes like sambhar, parippu curry (lentil curry), puliserry (cucumber in yoghurt), olan(white gourd in coconut milk), aviyal (mixed vegetables), thoran (veg stir fry), kalan (flavoured yoghurt curry), kichadi/pachadi (cucumber and coconut in yoghurt), as well as scrumptious desserts like ada pradhaman (rice and jaggery pudding) and sharkara varatti (banana chips with jaggery).
Hungry kya? So what are you waiting for? Choose one of the above thalis and let us know which one’s your favourite!