The thali makes its way to Pindi

The thali makes its way to Pindi

While the thali caters particularly to vegetarians, many restaurants also offer meat dishes in their thali options
09 Nov, 2015

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.”


Madhusudan Nov 09, 2015 09:41am
Pakistani food looks yummy brings water in the mouth. Hope one day i will come to lahore and eat good punjabi food. Sindhi cuisine too is fab.
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vin Nov 09, 2015 09:42am
food knows no boundaries. People to people contact increases love and friendship
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Vic Nov 09, 2015 11:10am
Thali is a South Indian style meal. Typically it consists of couple of vegetables, dal, sambar, rasam , chutney etc. It seems to be picking up in Pakistan too with local cuisine and dishes. good for you.
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Som Nov 09, 2015 12:16pm
Yummilicious :)
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Irongloves Nov 09, 2015 12:54pm
As an aficionado of the variety of food on offer in thalis in quite a few Indian/Pakistani restaurants in Australia, I naturally was interested in reading this article. On one level, I was surprised because it seemed to imply that the thali is a relatively new dining experience in Pindi, whereas it has been available in distant Australia for a long time. However, even more astonishing was my discovery of the word "Westridge" in regard to a location/suburb in Rawalpindi! Westridge was where I was born almost 70 years ago to parents who both served in the then British Indian Army garrison town. I had assumed that in keeping with countless name changes over the years, from the anglo to desi, Westridge would decades ago have disappeared into the chasm of time as did names such as Montgomery and Lyalpur .... and as they have in more recent time across the border with Madras/Chennai, Bombay/Mumbay and Calcutta/Kolkatta. It is nice to know that revisionism does occasionally take a holiday. Enjoy you thalis folks. I do!
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Anil Nov 09, 2015 01:39pm
Essential of Thali is Roti/Kulcha/nan/Chapati. I see that missing here! Rice is too little for me :-(
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Sohail Nov 09, 2015 03:25pm
@Anil Rotis are there on right side of thali. They are rolled so may be that's why you missed em ;)
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Umesh Nov 09, 2015 03:37pm
Although it is believed that Thali was conceptualized in Southern India, it caught on, cuisines from across India were introduced. Infact Gujarati Thali has surpassed of all its variants. "Full rice thali" is one variant which intrigues me. In this variant, rotis or chapatis are not served but consists of only rice to be had with Dal, Subzi etc.
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Akg Nov 09, 2015 04:04pm
@Vic Thali is very popular and convenient food in India, catering to nearlly all tastes at a very competitive price, which may range from INR 60 to 300 , depending upon the establishment.
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SAEED PK Nov 09, 2015 04:20pm
It looks more than Indian style than Pakistan. Anyhow, looks good having variety of food items of small quantity in one plate / thali.
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Hamaad Nov 09, 2015 08:43pm
Gujrati thalis are amazing. Love their daals and subzi
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Bhavani Pani Nov 10, 2015 05:00am
For tasting Cookery from Pakistan- you may not have to go to Pakistan in particular. Most Indian Restaurants in UK and Europe are run by Pakistanis and Bangladeshi with ethnic chefs. The mother of all Thlies in India is the Gujarati Thali and then the Marwari Basa Thali. Very trditional !!
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adil Nov 10, 2015 06:06am
Thali is original from Gujrat and is based on balanced diet. It includes, as the article said, daal, couple of vegetables, rice, naan / chapati, yogurt and a desert. Then there have been non-vegetarian versions and all the regional variations in India. It will be fun to see how this evolves in Pakistan. I am sure it will regional flavors from Punjab and Sindh.
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D. Datta Nov 11, 2015 04:36am
@Sohail Those are papads, not rotis.
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