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Monday, 14 September 2020

North Indian Thali / Indian Vegetarian Meal Ideas


A North Indian Thali is a delicious platter in which various dishes of a typical North Indian style meal are served together on a metal plate (thali). It is a complete meal in itself that serves all the nutrients required for a balanced diet. The typical dishes of a North Indian Thali include dal (lentil), rice, vegetable curry, roti (flat bread), dahi (yogurt), papad, salad, a small amount of chutney or pickle and a sweet dish. My North Indian thali is a pure vegetarian platter where i have tried to include some of the popular delicacies from Punjabi cuisine and is no less than a grand feast. It has Paneer MakhaniDal Fry, Chana Masala, Lachha parathaJeera Rice, papad, cucumber salad, Boondi Raita and Kesar Phirni


What is a Thali ?   

Thali is basically a Hindi word which means a metal plate. With reference to food, a thali is a plate or tray on which a meal is served. Thali meals form an integral part of Indian Cuisine. The idea behind a thali is to offer all the 6 different flavors of sweet, salty , bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on a single plate as according to Indian food custom, a proper meal should be a perfect balance of all these six flavors and serves all the nutrients required for a balanced diet. Dishes served in a thali vary from region to region in the Indian sub continent and are usually served in small bowls, called katori in India. These katoris are placed along the edge of a round tray. Typical dishes of an Indian thali include rice, dal, vegetables, roti, papad, dahi, small amount of chutney or pickle and a sweet dish. Depending upon the restaurant or the region, the thali consists of delicacies native to that region. Today restaurants across India and around the world, typically offer a choice of vegetarian or a a meat-based thali dishes. 
Thalis of India

 The best way of enjoying the local cuisine of any Indian state is to order a thali meal of that state for yourself. Thalis of India are a celebration of various delicacies native to that region and are nothing less than a grand feast. Apart from various restaurants across India serving different Indian thalis, one can get to sample the food of a particular region through different food exhibitions catering in major Indian cities during festivals and special occasions. Any regional thali will typically consist of at least 4-5 native dishes with a signature dish of that state for sure. Let's have a look at some of the regional Indian thalis.
  • Maharashtrian Thali : Maharashtrian cuisine comprises of a variety of mild to very spicy tongue tickling dishes. The food is tempting and makes use of aromatic and flavorful ingredients. The everyday Maharashtrian thali will have Varan Bhat Steamed rice topped with a seasoned lentil curry, a flat bread like chapati or Bajri BhakriKoshimbir ( a salad with or without curd), Chutney , a dry vegetable stir-fry, papad, a pickle and a sweet dish.Click here for recipes of all the dishes of this thali.
  • Himachali Thali - Dham - Dham is a traditional vegetarian festive meal of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. It is a mid-day meal prepared on auspicious occasions, festivals, weddings, and other religious functions.
  • Bengali Vegetarian Thali - From lip smacking snack, starters and street food, to elaborate main cource, from curries and dals to non ending list of Mishtis (sweets), there is everything in Bengali cuisine that a foodie can ask for. Here, i have cooked a mini vegetarian Bengali platter that can be offered as a Naivedhyam for Durga Puja. The platter has Bhoger khichuri (one pot meal of rice, lentils vegetables and spices), Beguni(egg plant fritters), Tomato dates chutney, Payesh(a rice pudding) , papad and mishti doi (fermented sweetened yogurt)
  • South Indian Thali : Rice being the staple food of South India, flat breads are rarely served at lunch or dinner. Here is a mini South Indian platter which has Thayir sadam, the South Indian curd rice, Chana Sundal, Chickpea salad, Gudanna - Jaggery rice and Banana chips.

  • Bihari Litti Chokha Thali:  Litti Chjockha is the signature dish of Bihar. Littis os a baked dish made from whole wheat flour that is stuffed with pitthi (a mixture of seasoned sattu- roasted gram flour). Litti is tossed in ghee and served with chokha, a vegetable preparation made from roasted and mashed vegetables mixed with mustard oil, lemon juice, spices and onions.
  • Gujarati Undhiyu Srikhand Thali - Undhiyu is a traditional Gujarati mixed vegetable curry and the quintessential dish during Uttarayan (Makar Sankranti) festival. This vegetable casserole is typically served with poori and Shrikhand on festive occasions. You can serve it with Bajra roti or chapati as well.
  • Manipuri Thali of Mangal Ooti and Khichadi -  Mangal ooti is a simple yet flavorful vegetarian side dish from the North East Indian state of Manipur. It is basically a yellow peas curry with aromatic mustard oil seasoning. It can be served with any Indian flat bread for Lunch but it is typically served with Manipuri Khichdi( a comforting rice lentil preparation)
    • Bedmi Aloo platter of Uttar Pradesh -  Bedmi Poori is a traditional dish from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Typically served with Aloo Rasedar ( a thin potato curry), the delicious and flling combo is known as bedmi Aloo and is a popular street food in Delhi, Agra, Mathura and Banaras.

    Time for Thali @ FoodieMondayBlogHop

    Foodie Monday Bloghop is a Facebook gourmet group, where a bunch of like-minded enthusiastic bloggers share their culinary creations each week depending upon a pre-determined theme. Time for Thali is the theme for the 263rd week on this group. Sasmita who blogs at the Firsttimercook, proposed that we share any regional thali or daily Indian meal that has at least 4 dishes served on it. Since, i already had thalis of most of the Indian states, this time i decided to post an elaborate North Indian style meal for the theme. Meanwhile, do check out Sasmita's space for authentic Odia recipes and many vegan and gluten-free recipes from around the globe. Her Baingan Poda (mashed roasted eggplant) and Budha Chakuli , a thick sweet Odia pancake are on my to-do list next.

    Dishes served in my North Indian Thali:

    The North Indian thali that i have prepared today is an elaborate vegetarian meal comprising of all the elements of a typical Indian thali, rice Jeera rice), flat bread (lachha paratha), lentil (Dal fry), curry (Paneer Makhani and Chana masala), raita (boondi raita), sweet dish (kesar Phirni), papad and salad. It took me flat 2 hours to make this entire platter single-handedly from scratch and yes, with no domestic help too (all thanks to the current Covid pandemic), which means a sink full of utensils. But believe me if you plan wisely, making such elaborate meals is not a big deal at all. We Indian are expert in treating our guests with such feast often. This platter has total 7 dishes excluding salad and papad which is a nutrient rich healthy balanced diet. Best part about this North Indian platter is that i did not had to go out shopping for fresh veggies ( a daunting task during lockdown) as all the dishes are made using basic pantry ingredients that are almost always present in any Indian Kitchen. I have used homemade paneer to make paneer makhani which I made on the previous day. The curd used for raita is also homemade. Making chana masala needs preplanning as chickpeas need to be soaked overnight. I began with boiling the chickpeas in pressure cooker and soaked the rice for phirni. Meanwhile I boiled the milk and allowed it cool down. All the chopping work was done when both my gas burners were engaged. That saved lot of time. If you follow such small tips, cooking elaborate meals becomes easy and fuss free.  So let's a have a look at all the dishes of this North Indian Thali , one by one. Click on the highlighted words for the recipes.
    • Paneer Makhani: Paneer Makhani is a creamy rich dish from the Punjabi Cuisine in which soft cottage cheese (paneer) cubes are simmered in a rich tomato cashew gravy along with butter and milk cream.
    • Dal Fry -  Dal fry is a popular India lentil dish. A spicy, flavorful and aromatic Punjabi recipe made from yellow pigeon peas / Toovar dal.
    • Jeera Rice: Jeera rice is a flavorful and delicious Indian rice dish. It is mildly spiced with whole spices and has dominant flavors and aroma of cumin seeds (jeera).
    • Boondi Raita: Boondi raita is a delectable North Indian raita made by mixing crispy boondi( fried gram flour balls) with spiced curd.
    • Kesar Phirni: Phirni is extremely delicious, creamy rich Punjabi dessert with an easy to follow recipe. As the name suggest, this phirni gets a beautiful color and flavor from Saffron.
    • Pudina Lachha Paratha - A lachha paratha is a layered flat bread from the Punjabi Cuisine. Here the paratha is flavored with refreshing mint along with spices.
    • Chana Masala / Chole Masala : Chana masala or chole masala is a flavorful dish from the North Indian Cuisine. A vegan and gluten free curry in which chickpeas are cooked in a spicy onion-tomato masala curry. 
    Preparation Time: 8 hours
    Cooking Time: 40 minutes
    Serves: 4


    To pressure cook
    • 1 cup chickpeas
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 4-5 black peppercorn
    • 2-3 clove
    • 1 inch Cinnamon stick
    • 1 star anise
    • Salt to taste
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    Ingredients for the Chana Masala
    • 2 onions, grated or pureed
    • 2 large tomatoes, pureed
    • 1/2 inch ginger
    • 4-5 garlic cloves
    • 2 green chilies
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • Pinch of Asafoetida / Hing
    • 1-2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon chole masala powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kasuri methi / dried fenugreek leaves
    • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
    • Salt to Taste
    • 2 tablespoon oil
    1. Rinse the chickpeas and soak it overnight in enough water. next day drain the soaked chickpeas, wash them thoroughly and transfer in a  pressure cooker with 2 1/2 cups fresh water, bay leaf, black peppercorn, clove, cinnamon stick, star anise and salt.

    2. Pressure cook the chickpeas for 2 whistles on high flame and simmer for 10 minutes. Put off the flame and allow the pressure to release naturally. On cooking , the chickpeas should be soft and mash-able with fingers but at the same time should hold their shape.



    3. Make a paste of ginger, garlic and green chilies, without adding water. Now, heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds to it. Once the seeds crackle, add the asafoetida and  ginger-garlic-green chili paste. Saute for 30 seconds or until the raw smell of garlic goes away.


    4. Add onion puree to it and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and cook for 2-3 minutes on low to medium flame. Once you see oil oozing out from the sides, lower the flame and tip in the spice powders (turmeric powder, red chili powder, chole masala and salt). Be careful while adding salt as we have already added it while boiling the chickpeas.



    5. Add the drained cooked chickpeas and stir-fry with the masala for 1-2 minutes, before adding 1 1/2 cups of hot water plus the water that we used for cooking the chickpeas. Cover the pressure cooker with lid and pressure cook for 1 whistle and simmer for 5 minutes before putting off the flame. Open the lid once pressure has settled down. Add garama masala and kasuri methi and give a good stir. 


    6. Our delicious chana masala is ready to serve. serve it with jeera rice and phulka or paratha and enjoy with your loved ones!


    Above shown platter is a simple version of a typical North Indian thali. You can select any dishes of your choice from the North Indian Cuisine and plan a thali meal. For example, you can replace chana masala with Rajma Masala or Pindi Chole or Sarson Ka Saag or Punjabi Kadhi Pakora. Similarly, Paneer Makhani can be replaced by Palak PaneerKadhai Paneer or Malai Kofta or Methi matar MalaiDal Fry can be replaced by dal makhaniKesar Phirni can be replaced by Gajar Ka halwa or Khoya Gulab Jamun. You may add any dry vegetable curry like Bhindi Do PyazaKaddu Ki sabziAchari Baingan or Kadai Mushroom to your thali meal. 

    I hope a few of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

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    1. Every single item on your thali is my all time favorite and I won't mind to self invite myself to your place to feast on this . The chole recipe is making me drool and the color of the gravy is so appealing.

      1. Thank you so much Priya. Chole is my son's favourite and I make it once every week. Glad that you liked it.

    2. North Indian Thali looks simply scrumptious. I love all the items you've made for the thali. Now I'm tempted to make all my favorite North Indian dishes and enjoy them as a thali. Poonam, you have such a wide selection of thalis.

      1. Thank you so much di. Thali meals are a part of our everyday diet.

    3. North Indian Thali looks scrumptious. Every dish looks Super tempting. Love all your traditional Thali recipes. Beautifully explained Poonam. Awesome clicks too.

    4. Wow, that's one irresistible platter! I love every single one of the dishes that form a part of your North Indian thali. Brilliant post!

    5. Loved this post. You have picked all my favorite dishes in every thali. They all look so irresistible, I can't decide which one I want to eat first. Bookmarking your post for future reference.

    6. By compiling certain regional thalis in one post, you really have put me in deep confusion. Each one looking so tempting and delicious that it has become tough to pick the one. Really superb.

    7. This is an amazing collection. So many irresistable thali combos here, hard to choose where to start.

    8. Poonam it's so wonderful to have a looks at your beautifully served North Indian Thali. Every dish in it looks super delicious. In addition to that, love all your traditional Thali recipes collection too. Awesome presentation of each and every thali.

    9. What a lovely collection of Indian thali. So many delicious spreads to choose from. Thank you for compiling this.

    10. What an amazing collection of North Indian Thalis...awesome presentation & kudos to your effort! I really can't decide which one is my favourite. Lovely spread!

    11. This is a pretty collection of varieties of thali poonam. LOve each one here. I must say in your all thali collection posts, you compile each dish in amazing way

    12. Wow poonam, that's an amazing collection of thali's . Every dish looks super delicious and so beautifully served! Wonderful compilation!

    13. Your North Indian rthalilooks so so scurmptious. love each and every dihs in the thali and how beautifully you hav eprsented it. I thought my earlier comment went through but it did not.Came back to double check.

    14. The Thali looks scrumptious. I love everything in that spread. I'm gonna try Paneer makhani.