What is a Thali? It is a variety of dishes including vegetables, curries, daals, salad, sweets and a savory component on a round platter. The idea behind a thali is to serve all the different food senses like sweet, savory, sour, bitter, spicy all on one plate for the ultimate sensory experience! Thalis vary depending from region to region. Although I hail from Bombay, my grandparents hail from the west part of Gujarat and my thali creation comes from this part as well.
My dear mom is the reason why I love to cook, and food, so much so that I dream about it! You can read more about MY MOM – my inspiration on the blog post from last year. It was a heartfelt post that I still get teary eyed when I read it. It would mean a lot to me, if you would read it as well, if you have not had the chance to.
This thali is an offering to her that I made with some of her favorite foods. I cannot believe that it has been 11 years since she left us. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her, and think about “would she enjoy what I make?” :), that she would have loved playing with my kids, that my kids would call her nani, so many thoughts of “what if”. All my adventures in the kitchen with her are etched in my memory forever, and they are some wonderful fond memories that I have. I was a big helper to her in the kitchen, and that is how I have learnt so many wonderful dishes from her. I have learnt techniques, playing with ingredients, watching her, listening to her, learning from her and the information is invaluable. I started making my first rotis when I was probably 8 or 9, and it has taken years of practice, to get them even, round, and perfect! I am very proud of those rotlis 😉 and the fact that I can roll them quite thin ;). It is seriously an art.
Back to the thali, my kids thoroughly enjoyed some of the items on the thali, not all 😉 and I am glad that they are receptive to foods that I grew up with, and enjoy them too. I am sharing 2 of the recipes from this thali : Tomato Sev Curry and the Black Eyes Peas and Spinach Curry. Mummy would make the Tomato Sev Curry often, and it was a weekly staple at our home. The tomatoes are tangy and with all the spices a tad bit sugar, it makes it sweet, tangy and spicy. Then you add the sev or the chickpea noodles on the top and it elevates it to the next level! My brother loves this vegetable a lot, and eats it quite often! My mom would make it especially for him cause he loved it. It is really easy to make, and cooks up pretty quickly too! It literally takes 20 minutes max to make this vegetable.
The Thali items in clockwise order, from the 2nd picture onwards is as follows:
- Jeera Rice ( Cumin Rice)
- Shrikhand ( Rose, Saffron, Cardamom, Pistachio Sweetened Yogurt)
- Gujarati Kadhi ( Yogurt Curry)
- Chauda nu shaak (Black eyed Peas and Spinach Curry)
- Sev Tameta nu shaak ( Tomato Curry with Chickpea Noodles)
- Bateta nu Shaak (Potato Curry)
- Bateta Vada( Fried Potato Dumpling)
- Gur keri (Sweetened Raw Mango Pickle)
- Masala Puri in the middle
Another one of my mom’s favorite that she would make often would be the Black Eyed Peas Curry. She did not like the typical Gujarati Daal(made with pigeon peas) or having rotis too! But she would force us to have 2 rotis each! She enjoyed the black eyed peas curry with cumin rice. I enjoy this lentil with rotis (indian flatbread) and that is how we ate it too at home except for her 😉 . What I love is having raw onions with it and green chillies to bite on! So delicious! I add spinach and potatoes to this curry to give it more body and flavor! It is hearty, healthy and super delicious! It works great as a soup as well! I especially love it on a cold winter night, cause it is absolutely comforting.
Thalis make a wholesome meal, you get your proteins, carbs, vitamins and minerals all from one plate. It keeps you full and satisfied. I don’t know anyone Indian or non-Indian who does not like all the components of a thali.
If you do make any of these recipes, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab and/or leave a comment on my blog telling me how you liked it! Eat it with rice, or roti, or naan, and it’s a great meal altogether! Do not forget to make some raita to go with it 🙂 or even plain yogurt with some chaat masala is great to cool down your senses after this meal 😉
Have a great one friends!
- Tomato Sev Curry:
- 10 medium tomatoes halved and cut into small pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger piece skin removed
- 1 green chilli ( or 2 if you like it spicy)
- 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- Pinch of asafoetida
- 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
- ¾ tsp coriander powder
- ¾ tsp cumin powder
- Salt to taste
- ¾ - 1 tsp garam masala
- ¾ tsp red chilli powder(or omit if you do not want it spicy)
- 3-4 tsp of tomato paste(in the non-tomato season)
- 1 heapful tsp of brown sugar
- ¼ - 1/3 cup medium to fine sev (chickpea noodles) – found at any indian grocery store.
- 3-4 tbsp chopped cilantro
- Black Eyed Peas and Spinach Curry:
- 2 cups black eyed peas
- 2 tbsp. ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1-2 teaspoon grated ginger( I like it more gingery)
- 2 cloves of grated garlic
- 1 green chilli finely chopped
- 2 small tomatoes finely chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach and baby kale leaves mixed
- Dry Masalas:
- 1/2 teaspoon red chill powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- salt to taste
- 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- Tomato Sev Curry:
- Make a paste in a chopper/grinder with the ginger, garlic and green chillies.
- In a medium pot, on medium heat, add in the vegetable oil. Let it heat up for a minute. Now add in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and let it splatter for 30-45 seconds. Now add in the ginger/garlic/green chilli paste. Saute for 30 seconds. Add in the chopped tomatoes and all of the spices, and brown sugar. Mix and let it simmer on medium heat for 12-14 minutes. Keep it partially covered. Keep sautéing every few minutes so as not to burn the tomato vegetable. The tomatoes should reduce down, and should be sort of pastey and not soupy. Keep stirring for another minute or so, and it is done! Switch off the stove.
- Pour it into the serving bowl. Garnish with the fine sev or chickpea noodles. Garnish with the chopped cilantro! Eat it with roti, or naan or rice!
- Black Eyed Peas and Spinach Curry:
- In a small bowl, add in the black eyed beans, and soak them overnight in water covering more than an inch above the beans.
- After soaking overnight, in a pressure cooker, on medium heat, add in the ghee, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, a pinch of asefoetida and let it splatter for half a minute or so. Add in the ginger, garlic, and sauté for a minute. Add in the tomatoes, and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add in all the dry masalas, and sauté for 2 minutes till it looks pastey. Add in the spinach and kale, and sauté again till wilted for a min.
- Add in the soaked black eyed beans. Add about 3 cups of water, close the pressure cooker, and switch it off after about 4 whistles. When it is ready to open, check if there is too much water. If there is still a lot of water, boil it off till the curry thickens a little bit.
- Garnish with cilantro.
- PS. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook it in a medium saucepan, and cook it covered as well for about 30 minutes. Check the beans to see if they have softened, and the water has reduced. If not soft enough, boil it for another 15 minutes and check again. You may need to add more water to make sure that the beans are covered when boiling.
- Enjoy with rice/bread/naan/roti!