Marrying green, leafy vegetables with meat is the hallmark of North Indian cooking. This classic palak, or spinach and chicken curry, is spiced with ginger, coriander, and garam masala, and is often included in thalis of the region. Photo by Sam A. Harris.
Composed of curry, stir fry, dried vegetables, yogurt, bread, and rice, thali translates to “large plate.” Chef Maunika Gowardhan explains they are served throughout India with regional variations. From humble dishes to elaborate versions, Gowardhan says warmth, texture, flavor, spice, and heat are all encompassed in thali.
Her everyday thali includes bread, dal, a vegetable, and a bowl of yogurt, compared to her wedding day thali that was served on a silver platter. Metals are thought to have beneficial properties for health, so thalis will often be served in copper and even gold. Over 20 dishes were served at Gowardhan’s wedding ceremony. “I was quite a hungry bride, what can I say,” she says. “If you haven’t been to an Indian wedding, I would strongly recommend going to one because the food is phenomenal. You don’t just get one dish from a certain country, state, or region, you get a variety of them.”
Her book is “Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking.”

Maunika Gowardhan explains the literal translation of thali is “large plate” and six taste components served on one vessel comprise a whole meal throughout India. Photo by Sam A. Harris.

In her book “Thali: A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking,” Maunika Gowardhan shares recipes for regional dishes and one-plate meals. Photo courtesy of Hardie Grant.
More from Good Food
From this Episode:
Indian cuisine, chowder, wine
Indian chef and author Maunika Gowardhan celebrates thali — a complete meal served on one plate that offers six taste sensations.
9 min
Anthropologist Deepa S. Reddy takes a deep look at rasam and its cultural-socio meanings.
10 min
With chowders, bisques, boils, and stews, Craig Fear pays homage to the seafood of New England.
9 min
Natural wine enthusiast Alice Feiring chronicles the vintages that chronicle her life in a new memoir.
12 min
From casual Taco Tuesdays to an omakase experience that’s booked through September, Anajak Thai is named Restaurant of the Year by LA Times restaurant critic.
9 min
Chef Ray Hayashi takes a cart of Asian vegetables back to RYLA in Hermosa Beach.
8 min

The best of what to see, hear, eat, do, and more.
Get the latest from KCRW in your inbox 3x a week.


Shop Sephari

Leave a Reply