I’ve spent years eating my way through the streets and restaurants across India. Be it Goa, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Jaipur or Delhi. The list is endless! And there is so much deliciousness in these places that some meals just seem to always bring back the memories of the best one’s you’ve ever had. Being the greedy carnivore that I am, it’s really no surprise it takes a lot for me to be impressed with any vegetarian fare. But then again working in the field of food as a private chef and author, I know one thing for sure- Indian cuisine encompasses some of the best vegetarian food in the world. So if you decide to go vegetarian, an Indian diet is definitely one I would recommend. The balance of pulses, beans, dairy, grains used to make a variety of bread and lightly spiced vegetables means that you’re getting a nutritious meal that is so very delicious.
During my recent trip to Bombay/ Mumbai I was on the hunt for a vegetarian Gujarati thali, and to think I spent two hours in this bustling city’s traffic to reach my destination. Yes you heard me right TWO whole hours!
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay is one of the city’s best known places for a traditional gujarati meal. It may be a complete maze to find this little place even for locals (I was with school friends who lived in the city and hadn’t even heard of Bhojanalay!) but once you’re sitting at the table, ready for a feast, an army of servers greet you with curries, vegetables, breads, pickles and sweet. We had a thali brimming with kadhi, dal bati, bhindi, two varieties of dal, aloo sabzi, sprouts, salad and raita. We also had breads (including bajra and jowar), dhokla with chutneys, pakode.
This might sound like a lot although given the portions are tiny they go down really well and of course get replenished rather quickly when the staff know that your thali is nearing empty. They also served the most delicious gujarati khichdi. The khichdi was lightly spiced and the combination of rice with lentils in this warm porridge like dish was really comforting. Even better when they added ghee! Our thalis were also filled with jalebi and warm gulab jamun to finish. There were copious amounts of chaas to drink and just what we needed after a meal like this.
I spent most of my trip to India last month eating thalis across the country and the diversity is amazing. Truly a celebration of some of the best recipes communities have; all in one plate. Eating a thali is great as you get to sample so much variety and for a set price its unlimited refills too. The combination of sweet and savoury flavours on one platter is delectable.
I’ve eaten at Friends Union Joshi Club a few times as well (more on that next time!) but I would like to find out your favourite places for thalis? And one’s that are a must try!