Hindi Language Blog

The Ubiquitous Thali Posted by on Feb 21, 2022 in Food

My daughter बेटीnasked me which type of Indian cuisine भोजन was my favorite पसंदीदा. I had to think about it for a second. I am a foodie खाने का शौकीन and being Indian, it is hard to choose चुनें as each state राज्य has its own favorite dish. I asked if I could list at least 5 favorites.

Needless to say, it would take a lifetime जीवनभर to try out all the dishes on the Indian subcontinent उपमहाद्वीप. I explained व्याख्या की that each state had its own cuisine. Kind of like Europe? She asked. I replied in the affirmative सकारात्मक. After all, India is a subcontinent with each state possessing its own language भाषा and culture संस्कृति. Much like Europe.

But, my favorite childhood बचपन food memories यादें take me to the thali. I have sampled नमूना Gujarati, South Indian, Seafood, Goan and Malabar thalis. I love them all.

So here is a nod to the ubiquitous सर्वव्यापक thali. The bearer of tasty culinary पाक exploits कारनामे in India.

Breakdown of the Thali

Thali थाली is the name for plate in Hindi. The contents अंतर्वस्तु of a thali depend on the local culture, heritage विरासत, and traditions. A typical thali has several small stainless steel bowls कटोरे containing sides dishes, desserts मिठाई, yogurt and relishes as well. A simple thali may have 2-3 bowls. One containing a curry, another a vegetable, and a third containing yogurtदही.

There are also complex thalis – with at least 5-6 bowls with multiple sides. The larger or grander the occasion अवसर the more complex the thali.

It is important to note here that even though the bowls look small छोटा – they pack food and are sort of like a multi-course tapas meal भोजन. They definitely challenge one’s appetite भूख.

When you go to a restaurant and ask for a thali, the server will come out bearing this beautiful stainless steel metal plate.  Thalis are made of steel but in actuality, they can refer to any plate. The plate will have an edge that is raised. This is so it can house and prevent the tiny bowls filled with food from slipping off the plate.

The Nutritional Value of a Thali

The thali contains food that typically is balanced संतुलित when it comes to nutrition पोषण.  Some bowls contain carbs, others protein, then there are bowls of fibrous foods and also dairy. There are vegetarian thalis, vegan thalis, and nonvegetarian thali. There are even seafood thalis.

Lifestyle and Thali

Traditionally one eats a thali while sitting squat-legged on the floor – yoga style.  Sitting together with one’s family परिवार and friends दोस्त promotes a sense of equality समानता and intimacy आत्मीयता.

Today the thali is a chic addition to any ex-patriate home. It brings memories of a simpler life back in India. Although it somehow did not occupy that social status in the past. For Indians eager to adopt western habits and culture, the thali was seen as a lower status symbol. These Indians preferred Wedgewood china or porcelain.

Have you eaten from a thali? What was your experience like? Comment below!



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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.