Indian Simmer: Thalis are the New Tapas

India 162 (500 x 333)

Wow. I have eaten so much Indian food. This might sound like the most obvious observation in history but — they eat Indian food ALL the time here. Like, every day, three meals a day. That is a lot of Indian food!

OK sorry, I just had to say that. Moving on to more high-minded revelations, let’s talk about thalis. I’d heard of these fleetingly in the states, but haven’t actually been served them at any Indian-American restaurants, which is odd, because they’ve been on the menu at almost every restaurant I’ve been to so far in India.

The concept is pretty simple, but utterly amazing. Actually, it’s what I secretly have wanted to happen at every restaurant I’ve ever been to. Basically, you get to eat every item on the menu. For real.

Instead of one dish, you’re served one giant platter loaded with ten tiny little dishes, each bowl filled with a different food — curry, dahl, yogurt, vegetables, chickpeas, maybe meat, even dessert! In the center is some kind of bread — in this case mini versions of the baturas I mentioned earlier, and you rip off pieces of that to eat each mini-course utensil-free.

Is this the American dream, or what? You literally get to order everything on the menu and you only have to say one word! My official vote for the next worldwide food trend:  chefs of all cuisines need to get off the tapas bandwagon and start serving every meals thali-style.  Who wants to share three small plates with everyone at the table, when instead you could have ten tiny plates all to yourself?

I’m drooling just imagining every kind of food served thali-style. The hours-long browsing over Chinese menus will be over, because you can just say “Thali” aka “I’ll have two bites of everything on the menu.” At Mexican restaurants you’ll get a tiny little burrito, a mini enchilada, two bites of nachos, etc…At Italian you get ten tiny bites of every kind of pasta. OK, I could go on but I’ll stop. Seriously though, chefs — think about this!

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  • sara lava April 12, 2010  

    best food idea ever, especially the tiny little burrito part. cute! can I please get a shout-out though? I believe that is my arm in the photo and I did not give my consent for internet use

  • gansie April 12, 2010  

    i remember when i first moved to texas and i couldnt believe how often people at tex-mex. i thought the same thing. sure i should have figured so much, but i just wasnt prepared to eat mexican like 4 days a week. and i swear, i can barely stand the sight of margs or queso to this day. it’s a shame, really.

    also, im totally behind the “kills small plates” band wagon. sharing sucks. i want it all to myself!

  • veena January 10, 2011  

    I grew up in India and, gasp, had Indian food every day! Miss the thalis and streetfood and savory breakfasts. Heartily agree with your suggestion of thalifying other cuisines as well 🙂

  • Kulsum at JourneyKitchen January 31, 2011  

    Hey! Just found your blog. L ike I always do when I find a blog, I check out if the author likes Indian food coz well I don’t know, I think I can only relate to people who like Indian food in long run so yeah! for that. I love thalis and glad u like it too!

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