A thali, which literally translates to “plate,” refers to a self-contained set meal in India. The basic dishes that make up the meal generally include rice, roti, dal, a variety of curries, curd, a hot poppadum (a type of flatbread), and sometimes a sweet dessert. While many restaurants in India serve a full a la carte menu, if you’re looking for something that will be tasty and fresh with a variety of different flavors, order the thali.
There are several varieties of thali and what region of India you’re in will determine what it includes. While curries are common throughout the country, they are often paired with whatever the staple is in that area. Even with each state serving a different form of thali, many large Indian restaurants simplify their menu to just include either a single thali from their region, or a choice of a south or north Indian thali.