Colorful, filling, and often a work of art, thali is a popular dish commonly served in restaurants and dhabas across India. Thali, simply translated to mean “plate” in Hindi, is a collection of various Indian dishes served in small metal bowls atop a metal tray. Variations are aplenty with some restaurants using compartment trays while others line trays with a banana leaf placing the food directly onto the leaf surface.
Veg or non-veg, food included in thali also varies based on regional specialties and local tastes. Basic components of Indian thali are rice, some form of bread (roti/chapati, puri, papad, and sometimes even naan), at least one vegetable, one masala, one curry, dal, plain curd or raita, and always a sweet. Many locations offer an unlimited thali with refills served via metal buckets with multiple containers brought to the table allowing servers to quickly refill trays.
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