Indian food is increasingly becoming popular in the west. Indian food enthusiasts are already familiar with the name of the best curries and dishes that they must try out in the Popular Indian Restaurants in the USA, many are yet to explore a ‘thali’. The name ‘thali’ came from the word ‘thal’ or ‘thala’ which is basically a big plate made of ‘kansa’ metal or bronze. The food items are served on a thal and the whole dish with every item and portion came to be popularly known as ‘thali’. Many Indian restaurants have introduced the thali system now. If you love Indian food and haven’t tried a thali yet, this should be in your must-try list next.
INDIAN THALI - A WELL-BALANCED MEAL
A Traditional Indian Thali is a well-planned inclusion of different kinds of nutrients and macronutrients and perfectly serves an example of a balanced diet. Here's how:
1. Carbohydrates: The thali usually includes a serving of rice or roti, which provides complex carbohydrates for energy.
2. Proteins: Daal, a lentil soup, is a staple in most thalis and is a great source of plant-based protein. Meat or paneer (cottage cheese) may also be included in some thalis, which provides animal-based protein.
3. Vegetables: The thali typically includes a variety of cooked vegetables, which provides a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These are usually cooked with spices and herbs, which add flavor and additional nutrients.
4. Dairy: Raita, a yogurt-based dish, is commonly served in thalis and provides calcium and probiotics.
5. Fats: Some of the dishes in a thali may be cooked in ghee (clarified butter) or oil, which provides healthy fats.
6. Dessert: A small serving of a sweet dish is often included in a thali, which provides a source of carbohydrates and adds to the overall flavor and enjoyment of the meal.
You may also enjoy reading the 5 Famous Chicken Curries from across India.
A TYPICAL INDIAN THALI
A typical Indian thali varies depending on the region and cuisine. However, the nutrient components and food groups remain more or less same in all the traditional thalis, may it have come from any part of the Indian subcontinent.
Let’s have a look.
1. Rice preparation (boiled rice, jeera rice, pulav, etc.), or rice items (dosa and idli), or roti - Rice preparations and items are prepared from rice grains, while roti is typically prepared with wheat grain and other grains like jowar, bajra, nachni. This is the carbohydrate content and is generally the highest amount of content in a thali.
2. Daal- Prepared with different varieties of pulses, daal is the primary source of plant-based protein in a thali.
3. Sabzi -This is a vegetable dish (one or more varieties of vegetables), generally dry and makes the vitamins and minerals content of the thali.
4. Curry - As we know curry is a gravy-based item and prepared in both veg and non-veg varieties. In veg curry, paneer is a popular choice with saag paneer, matar paneer, malai paneer being the most sought after dishes, however veg curry can also be prepared without using paneer. The non-veg curry includes either meat, fish or eggs.
5. Raita -Prepared with curd, the prime and unaltered source of probiotics, raita helps with digestion by breaking down the complex proteins of meat and paneer in the curry.
6. Papad - The crispy flatbreads prepared from lentils or grains, papad provides the much-needed crisp to the dish.
7. Chutney - A spicy condiment, it adds a tangy punch to the dish while also aid in digestion.
8. Kachumber - A mix of chopped raw vegetables, this satisfies the requirement of the dietary fiber in the thali.
9. Sweet dish - This is mainly served to satisfy the taste buds and provide a wholeness to the thali.
10. Chaas/Jeera Water - Generally the ending to the thali, this helps with hydration and also digestion.
This will be good to mention that the specific items may differ based on the region and cuisine. In some thalis, you may also find snacks like samosas or pakoras. In South India, rice is often replaced with dosa or idli, and sambar and rasam are common accompaniments in place of daal.
Have you ever tried Indian thali? Share your experience with us in the comments below.