India is one of the most colourful and ethnically diverse nations in the world. It is one of the most diverse lands found, where there are 29 states, each with their own unique languages, traditions, and religions. Each of the states has its own food, which includes thali and cuisines, music, film, clothing, dance, culture, tradition and everything. Yet all the states stand as one India, overcoming all the diversity and differences.
India as a country is very rich in terms of culture, cuisine, customs and tradition. Each region in India has its own unique qualities. The thali is one of the aspects which is unique and different in every region. These thalis are the epitome of ‘cultural exploration’ in one place. They are organized to be a complete meal on one plate, with multiple items added to one meal, making it a one of a kind experience for the one experiencing it.
North Indian Thali
The northern parts of India consist of seven states, which include Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
Kashmiri Thali of Jammu & Kashmir
Apart from the scenic Himalayan region and beautiful lakes, Kashmir also offers its visitors some lovely royal delicacies. The Kashmiri Thali of Jammu & Kashmir is best known for the non-vegetarian food items. These include the regional delicacies, such as Rogan josh, Yakhni, and Gushtaba. These are served in the authentic thali along with Saffron rice, Munji chetin, Kashmiri haaq, roti and shufta.
Himachali Thali of Himachal Pradesh
Also known as Dham Thali, the platter is popularly known for its traditional and slow-cooked meals. The Himachali Dham Thali includes steamed and fried Taro leaves, boiled mango with jaggery, rock salt block cooked lamb, sweet caramelized rice with raisins and dry fruits. One of the special items in this thali is Babru, a roti stuffed with cooked urud dal. This item is served with curries made of sliced potatoes and chickpeas.
Kumaoni Thali of Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand’s special Kumaoni Thali is a famous platter that offers many regional culinary items. These include Aloo ka jholor, Potato stir fry, Phaanu, Baadi, Pomegranate chutney, Bhang Ki Chutney, Cucumber raita, Black turtle beans or Bhut ki daal, and Poori. The sweet section includes pudina thandai, which is a chilled mint flavored drink, and Bal Mithai, which is tiny sugary balls blended with roasted Khoa.
Thali of Uttar Pradesh
The thali of Uttar Pradesh is a pure North Indian thali. The influences of both Awadhi and Mughlai cuisines can be seen in thali here. The food items in Uttar Pradesh thali involve dal, veggies, smoke-roasted sweet potatoes, roti, and rice.
Haryanvi Thali of Haryana
Hariyanvi thali is a grand platter with staple food items. These include Mithey chawal, Kachri ki sabzi, Bajra aloo ki roti, besan masala roti, Hara dhania cholia, Alsi ki Pinni, Malpua, Khichdi and Kachi lassi. This large local thali is accompanied by a tall glass of lassi. The most special part of the platter is that all the ghee, butter, and curd used in the thali are home-made.
Punjabi Thali of Punjab
This thali is as heavenly large and as robust as the people of Punjab. The Punjabi thali contains dishes like Aloo Kulcha, Punjabi Chole, Paneer Tikka, Butter Chicken, Chicken Tandoori, Aloo Paratha, Dal Makhani, Kadi Chaval, Rajma Chaval, and Makki di roti, Sarso ka saag. There is also a complimentary glass of sweet lassi and a lot of ghee.
Rajasthani Thali of Rajasthan
Rajasthani thali is popularly known for its personifying quality of the traditional royal cuisine. The food items in this thali offer a fusion of spicy, tangy, sweet and sour tastes. The highlights of this thali include Bajra, Makka, and Jowar ki roti, Daal Baati Churma, and Gatte ki Sabzi. Sometimes Papad ki Kadhi and Mangodi ki Sabzi are also served with the thali.
West Indian Thali
The Western parts of India are comprised of 3 states, which include Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa.
Kathiawadi Thali of Gujarat
Gujarati Kathiawadi thali is famous for its richness of taste, which offers a sweet-salty and spicy taste. This thali consists of mostly vegetarian food items. These include Thepla, Maal Purah, Puri, Bhakhri, and Puran-pohli, Pari and Khakhra, Dal-dhokli, Chevdoh, Dhokla, Undhiyu, Khaman, Bhusu, Fafda, Dhokli, Papdi, and Sev Mamra.
Maharashtrian Thali of Maharashtra
Maharashtrian people are generally very picky when it comes to the matter of food. That is why the Maharashtrian thali consists of very neatly picked traditional food items. The vegetarian thali include Poli, Bhakri, Bhajis, Chapatti, Daal, Sabudana vada and Pao bhaji. The non-vegetarian thali include local mutton recipes like mutton Sukka, mutton Lonche, and Alani soup. The desserts generally include sweets like aamras and sheera.
Goan Thali of Goa
The Goan thali mostly consists of seafood. The delicious thali includes hot curries like Vindaloo and Sheet Kodi Nustea. The thali also offers Kismur; a Goan salad made with fried prawns and grated coconut. The platter is compiled with a local drink, Sol Kadi, which is a kokum-coconut milk drink.
Central Indian Thali
The central parts of India consist of just two states, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. These two are considered to be the “Heart of India”.
Thali of Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh offers the luscious thali, which has a touch of traditional Rajasthani and Gujarati cuisines. The food items include Butte ki kees, which is highly spiced corn mixed with milk, Dal bafla, Poha, Malaiidar Shikanji, which is milk with plenty of nuts.
Chhattisgarhi Thali of Chhattisgarh
This thali features many authentic tribal meals. The food items include well-known dishes like Fara, Rice pakoras, Dehati vada, and Muthiya. The Chhattisgarhi thali also offers breads such as Angakar Poori, Paan roti, and Chusela. The desserts include Kusli and Sweet Fara.
South Indian Thali
The southern parts of India are comprised of five states. These involve Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.
Andhra Thali of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra thali is arguably the best platter in India. The food items on this delicious platter are served on a banana leaf. The rice and yellow lentil is served with a mild amount of ghee in this thali. Other than that, this thali features Charu, which is a type of rasam, Avakya, which is basically mango pickle, Perugu, which is curd rice. Dessert includes Rava Ladoo and Bandhar Ladoo.
Kannadiga Oota Thali of Karnataka
Kannadiga Oota thali is a typical Kannad thali all the way from Karnataka. This thali includes dishes like Koshambari, playa, Gojju. Other than that, there are regional delicacies like Akki roti, which is rice flatbread, and Badane ennegai, which is masala stuffed brinjal. There are also Gattisoppu, which is yellow lentils and greens, padavalkayi masala, which is snakegourd curry, Ranjaka, which is garlic-chilli chutney, fritters, and sweet-sour yoghurt.
Kerala Sadhya Thali of Kerala
This thali is one of the most elaborate meals in India. Traditionally, there are 26 multi-course vegetarian dishes served in this thali. This grand thali consists of Uepperi, which is fried and salted banana chips, Inji soup, which is ginger curry, Parippu, Sambar, Olan, which is spicy pumpkin curry. Other than that, there is also Pulissery, which is a special recipe made up of pumpkin and yoghurt, Avial, which is mixed vegetables, Kaalan, which is banana curry, Moru Kachiyathu or buttermilk, etc. For dessert, there’s Paayasam, which is a sweet made with rice and lentils, that completes the meal.
Chettinad Thali of Tamil Nadu
Originated from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, this platter offers food items highly influenced by the Nattukotai Chettiars or Nagarathars community. The dishes of this exclusive thali include sun-dried meat and salted vegetables. Other than that, there is mutton biryani made with seeraga samba rice and Tawa fried prawns. There are also curries, mixed vegetables, curd rice and sticky rice puddings, banana chips, Chakli and onion rings etc.
Special Thali of Telangana
Telangana Special thali is very similar to the Andhra Pradesh thali, as both states have a common culinary culture. There are three types of Telangana thalis, which include vegetarian thali, non-vegetarian thali, and seafood thali. The thali includes popular local dishes. These are Kuntikura Pappu, which is lentils cooked with rozelle leaves, red chillies, and mustard seeds, Jonna Roti, which is Sorghum flatbread, and Kodi Roast, which is boneless chicken cooked dry in Telengana style.
East Indian Thali
The eastern parts of India consist of 4 states, which include Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.
Bhojpuri Thali of Bihar
Originated from the epic state of Bihar, Bhojpuri thali features a variety of vegetarian food items. The items include the famous Litti ka Chokha, scrumptious Sattu ka Paratha, Dahi Chura, which is curd with rice flakes, Kale Chane, Gurma, which is raw mango chutney, and Rasiyaaw, which is a rice dessert, Kale Chane, and Bharbhara etc.
Thali of Jharkhand
This thali is the definition of desi fiesta. The delicacies served in this thali include Dhuska and Litti Chokha. Other than that, there is a seasonal salad; dhania-lahsoon chutney, Dhuska, and aloo-chana curry, Kurthi dal, Urad dal dumplings, Lal Saag & Marwa Rotis prepared with rice and ragi flours etc. There are also non-vegetarian items such as mutton ka jhol, dehati chicken etc. As dessert, Dudiya and Dudh pitha are served.
Dalma Oriya Thali of Orissa
This thali has a unique taste of non-spicy veggies with a basic panch phoran flavour. The Dalma Oriya thali features Roti, Rice, Phakala, which is rice in fermented and spiced curd, Dalma, which is a signature lentil and vegetable dish. Other than that, there are Karela bhaja, which is bitter gourd fries, Aloo Posto, which is potatoes with poppy seeds, Baingan chatka, which is roasted brinjal mash, etc. There are also Phulgobi kosha, which is dry cauliflower curry, Tomato khatta, which is sweet-sour tomato and date chutney, and the divinely delicious Kanika, which is sweetened rice-lentil khichdi.
Bengali Thali of West Bengal
The traditional Bengali thali is heavily influenced by seafood and aromatic spices. The thali consists of food items such as Begun Bhaja, Patol Bhaja, Shukto, which is a bittersweet medley of veggies, Shaak and Alu Bhaaja etc. There are also Cholaar Dal, Bhaat or rice, Maach Bhaja, which is fried fish, Maccher Kalia, which is fish curry, and Kosha Mangsho, which is mutton in thick gravy. For dessert, there is Payesh and Rosogullas.
North-East Indian Thali
The North-Eastern parts of India are comprised of eight states. These include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya and Sikkim.
Arunachali Thali of Arunachal Pradesh
This thali has a unique quality with a refreshing taste of bamboo shoots as the main ingredient. The traditional platter features cheese and soybeans and rice served with pork meat and Lucter, which is dried meat chilli flakes. Butter tea or Po Cha is said to be the main beverage served with the thali.
Assamese Thali or Aalohir Exaj of Assam
This thali features many traditional authentic food items. At the beginning, it is served with staple dishes like Khar, which is a special curry made from uncooked papaya, lentils, and powdered dry banana skins, and Pura, which is smoked meat or fish etc. The platter also features Poitabhat, which is soaked rice garnished with mustard oil, onion, and chillies, Pitika, which is a form of mash, Shaak bhaji, which is a green leafy vegetable, Bor, which is a fritter, and pickle. This platter also features a very special and well-known dish called the Tenga, which is a spiced sweet and sour fish curry.
Naga Thali of Nagaland
This unique thali of Nagaland is famous for its variety and simplicity. The platter is full of veggies, rice, and non-veg dishes. One of the most delicious dishes on the platter is the Galho or the Naga khichdi, which is prepared with veggie and meat. There are also varieties of chutney, of which the great Naga chilli chutney is the most popular. Rice beer is the traditional drink here, but other than that, there is also Zutho, dzutse, and ruhi.
Meitei Thali of Manipuri
This thali is perhaps one of the most satisfying in India. Meitei thali features food items such as Eromba, which is brewed hidol fish and vegetables, Sinju, which is vegetable salad, Thanbou, which is lotus stems, etc. There are also Ooti or the pea curry, Chareng, which is a fish curry, Pakora thongba, which is gram flour curry, Manikha, which is a combination of brinjal and fish oil, etc. Other than that, there are Kangsoi, which is a veg stew, Chambut, which is boiled and made with papaya, Kangsoi or boiled dry fish and, of course, a mustard chutney. Chak hao khee is a special dish available in the thali, which is a black rice dessert combined with cardamom powder.
Mizo Thali of Mizoram
Mizo thali features Vawksa or smoked pork, Samtawk, Bai which is a soup, Hmarcha Rawt which is chilli chutney, Chhum which is a type of salad including chow cluster beans, Behiiang etc.
MUI Borok Thali of Tripura
This thali offers some tremendously well-known delicacies. The traditional MUI Borok thali includes Khichuri, Begun Bhaja, Tomato Chutney, Aaloo sabzi, Fish Stews, etc. The thali also features Mua, which is a dish enriched with the heavenly taste of aromatic spices.
Thali of Meghalaya
This special thali of Meghalaya tastes unique, as it uses sesame seed as the main ingredient. This flavoursome Thali features healthy Meghalian savoury Puklein boiled veggies, special dal Daineiiong, and varieties of dried meat dishes.
Sikkimese Thali of Sikkim
The special fact about this thali is that it is a non-oily cuisine. The Sikkimese thali features Tibetan delicacies: momos Dalle chilli and tomato chutney. Other than that, there are Thukpa, which is a noodle soup, Gundruk, which is fermented inexperienced greens, Chhurpi ka achaar, which is pickle made from Yak milk, Ningro curries, which is mess, around-head curry gravy, Sel roti, which is doughnut-fashioned bread, Shimi ka achaar which is string beans and sesame pickle etc.
India is a very strange concoction of diversity, where tastes keep spreading across the sub-continent, from region to region. It is naive to believe that the Indian cuisine is limited to Butter Naan and Shahi Paneer in North India and Idli and Dosa in South India. These may be popular ones. However, these do not give a detailed insight into the food culture of India. In order to understand that, one has to dive a lot deeper into the food journey.