RAWALPINDI: One often hears about thali served across the border. But now, it appears the platter carrying anywhere between six to 12 different dishes is also available in the garrison city.
Over the last few years, many restaurants have added the thali to their menu. From Saddar to Bahria Town, many people visit restaurants for this particular dish.
While the thali caters particularly to vegetarians with its selection of vegetable dishes, lentils and dairy sides, many restaurants also offer meat dishes in their thali options.
Biryani, kulcha, aloo ki bujia, khati daal, tomato curry, Bihari chicken, seekh kebab, salad, mint chutney, pickle and a dessert are all served in small bowls held in a platter – for one person or to share.
Platters for vegetarians skip the meat option, instead adding items such as mixed vegetable dishes.
Platters served at most restaurants contain a mix of meat and vegetable dishes. There are many varieties of the thali, such as the Shahi Biryani Thali, the Hyderabadi Thali or the Punjabi, Afghani or Kandhari Thali.
Exploring Pindi's thali options
“We introduced thali two years ago, when we saw the trend increasing in the food market. We also added versions different from others, to include dishes from Afghan cuisine or Punjabi cuisine,” said Amir Gillani, the owner of Lahori Chaat in Bahria Town.
He told Dawn that the restaurant served local dishes and fresh meat on a platter that was enough for one person. He said a thali is a complete meal with a dessert, and that they served either gulab jamun, kheer or firni depending on the season.
Taj Tandoor’s Mohammad Shabir said: “We serve a tandoori barbeque thali, a Punjabi thali and many others due to the popularity of this trend. We serve vegetables, lentils and other items.”
“Being a food lover, I’ve tried many restaurants and the thali trend is a new thing for me. I often order a thali at food outlets because one platter is enough for two people – but that’s a secret,” Westridge resident Mohammad Rehan said.
He said a platter contained both meat and vegetables and that it was a healthy option.
“Usually we prefer aaloo gosht or roast chicken at home on the weekends, but you need something different once a week and the thali is different,” he said.
Saddar resident Mohammad Zahid said: “In a thali one has various options. But food outlets should replace lentils with something else, because we usually eat leftovers a day or so later, at home. The thali is for vegetarians, but a non-vegetarian version is a complete meal.”