For those who know me well enough, you will probably know by now that I love all things spicy and count Indian food as one of my favs. There is nothing I like better than a lovely vegetarian “thali”. Best enjoyed with all five of my digits, washed down with a nice frothy Teh Tarik Susu Lembu.
For those who are not in the know, the word “thali” actually means plate. (Hindi/Nepali: थाली, Tamil: தட்டு) It is essentially a round platter that is filled with several smaller little bowls (called “katori”) with food that is salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. These little bowls are usually arranged around the bigger platter with some rice or chapati in the middle. Whether rice or chapati or even “puri” is served would depend on the region or restaurant that is serving the “thali”. Some restaurants I discovered would serve their “thali” on a banana leaf. Totally love “thali” on banana leaf as the aroma of the banana leaf enhances the whole thali experience.
Typical dishes of a thali are rice, roti, curries, vegetables, yoghurt (“tairu”), pappadums, pickles, “rasam” (Indian soup) and some places also serve salty fried chillies. (My fav!)
Recently, out of the blue, Son No. 2 decided that he wanted a thali. This was quite an unusual request as he is very loyal to his Roti Telur (Flatbread with egg). His “thali’ came with curried long beans, stir fried beansprouts, Sambal Taufu, Dhal curry (“sambar”), cucumber “salad”, fried bitter gourd and rasam. Oh yes, pappadums too.
Am usually not a fan of bitter gourd but the crunchy fried bitter gourd at Kari Kepala Ikan Raub* in Bentong, Pahang is probably one of the best I have tasted. I am a huge fan of their Sambal Taufu as it has just the right amount of onions and chillies. Actually, most of the dishes I have tried at this place is seriously yums.
So, why to I love “thali”?
Is it the Dhal curry that I instinctively drown my rice with?
Or is it because of the cucumber and onion raita that is the perfect match for firey sambal?
Or is it because of that mushy spinach that I love with a maddening passion?
Or the salty fried chillies that are so addictive?
The answer is “All of the above”. It is the various elements that make the “thali” oh-so-delish. All the different tastes, textures and flavours.
And one of the best part about “thali” is the huge portion that we just have to share it with our dining companions. And to share a good “thali” with great company is totally priceless!
*Kari Kepala Ikan Raub
No. 52, Jalan Loke Yew, 28700 Bentong, Pahang
09-223 3551 | 012-900 2351 | 016-320 8766