Tasty thali

This item appears on page 55 of the April 2010 issue.
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In the first of the letters compiled for “What to Eat Where” (Jan. ’10, pg. 42), there was an error in the conversion of the price of a thali; 150 to 250 rupees does not equal $1 but is more like $3.25-$5.50.

R150-R250 might be the price of a thali at a more upscale restaurant or for a special thali. On our trip to northern India and the Gangetic plain in November-December ’09, my husband, Clyde, and I found thalis in Delhi at fast-food chain restaurants for R100-R200, which we thought were expensive. A simple thali at an outdoor terrace restaurant above the ghats in Varanasi cost R50, which is more typical.

Thali is, in fact, the name of the large, stainless-steel platter that holds the smaller bowls (katori). Thalis are found on menus in North India but are more common in the south, where it is often served not on a platter but on a banana leaf.

The diner throws a small amount of water on the leaf and spreads it around before the waiter comes along with the rice and other tasty treats. You eat with your hand (right hand only).

If “unlimited” or “special thali” appears on the menu, this means that you can have refills on most of the thali items (but usually not the sweet dish). Waiters cruise around with huge bowls of dal, vegetables, rice, curd, etc., and offer to dump more food on your plate whenever it looks like you are running out. It is difficult to say “no” to more food, and special thalis tend to go on forever.

JANE B. HOLT

Hinesburg, VT

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In the first of the letters compiled for “What to Eat Where” (Jan. ’10, pg. 42), there was an error in the conversion of the price of a thali; 150 to 250 rupees does not equal $1 but is more like $3.25-$5.50.

R150-R250 might be the price of a thali at a more upscale restaurant or for a special thali. On our trip to northern India and the Gangetic plain in November-December ’09, my husband, Clyde, and I found thalis in Delhi at fast-food chain restaurants for R100-R200, which we thought were expensive. A simple thali at an outdoor terrace restaurant above the ghats in Varanasi cost R50, which is more typical.

Thali is, in fact, the name of the large, stainless-steel platter that holds the smaller bowls (katori). Thalis are found on menus in North India but are more common in the south, where it is often served not on a platter but on a banana leaf.

The diner throws a small amount of water on the leaf and spreads it around before the waiter comes along with the rice and other tasty treats. You eat with your hand (right hand only).

If “unlimited” or “special thali” appears on the menu, this means that you can have refills on most of the thali items (but usually not the sweet dish). Waiters cruise around with huge bowls of dal, vegetables, rice, curd, etc., and offer to dump more food on your plate whenever it looks like you are running out. It is difficult to say “no” to more food, and special thalis tend to go on forever.

JANE B. HOLT

Hinesburg, VT