Mar 10, 2009

Value Meals

"Meals" (thalis) are a sort of workingman's lunch. Usually well under $2, served on an aluminum tray or banana leaf, and best eaten by hand. Can be "limited" (all you can eat rice) or "unlimited" (all you can eat everything). Contents vary day-to-day, eatery-to-eatery, and region-to-region. So far in South India meals seem to require the presence of rice, a papad, plain curd (yogurt), mango or lemon pickle, a dal, sambar, and rasam. Usually also a dry veg and veg in "gravy" and sometimes a sweet, eg. cardamom-saffron rice pudding. Every item is unfailingly delicious. Some thalis can reach semi-divine heights.

Toronto readers can get a decent one from Moti Mahal on Gerrard St. in Little India.

New Ananda Bhavan, Fort Kochi

Hotel Astoria, Kodaikanal

Lalit Mahal, Mysore


  1. Ram's driver Raju took me for some top-drawer tali in Mysore. I recall being unprepared (hadn't brought my iodized water) but generally very pleased right up to the end when he poisoned me with paan.

  2. we heard the paan story. still a family favourite of the jalan's.

  3. that looks absolutely delish! you inspired me, mems, to start my own blog --- am covering fashion week for suntv next week so wanted to get into the swing of things. missin you.

  4. OHMIGOD you are making me sooooo hungry, thali is possibly the best meal of Earth!!! If you haven't yet, you have to try pav bhaji - best street/snack food ever!!