Thali – India on a plateby Jenny Jonson Writer
Food has a special meaning in people’s lives all over the world. The presentation, nutritional value, spices involved and method of eating and serving are significantly different among a variety of cuisines originating from various parts of the world. Just as food served in European and western countries comprises of different courses, the thali is considered as the perfect meal in various parts of India. This form of Indian cuisine is rich in nourishment and has its roots from ancient Ayurveda.
The concept of a balanced meal has been incorporated in Indian
culture since the ancient Vedic times. Ayurveda specifies six tastes –
astringent, bitter, pungent, sweet, sour and salty. These six tastes
must be included in every meal so as to get a balance of all essential
nutrients required by the human body. Traditional food from various
parts of India considers these six tastes to be very important while
The way food is perceived in an Indian household holds great importance. The food is generally cooked by the women in the household and served on a thali or plate. This consists of a variety of home cooked vegetables and bread coupled with rice which serve as a part of the balanced meal.
Restaurants have been trying to compete with Indian women in terms of cooking healthy and nutritious food since a long time. But ordering food in restaurants becomes more of a choice in terms of taste rather than health. Even if Indian traditional food is ordered, every dish might not have all the nutrients that the body requires. This in turn causes restaurants to become more popular in terms of a luxury rather than health and nutrition.
To overcome this challenge, restaurants have brought Ayurveda into their kitchens. The six tastes that were mentioned in the previous paragraphs are stimulated in one’s palate in the form of an organized set of elements of food arranged on a plate. This basically creates a ‘thali’ of the various elements.
Scientifically, the purpose of including Ayurveda in one’s palate is mainly to ensure all essential nutrients are received by the body. There are certain basic elements of food that are included in a thali.
• Vegetables – These are seasonally prepared with various spices and served dry or in gravy. They are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. A combination of vegetables ensures a variety of vitamins and minerals consumed by the individual.
• Rice – Rice is the main source of carbohydrates.
• Indian bread – Made up of wheat primarily, it is source of protein and carbohydrates.
• Lentils/Pulses – They are a rich source of proteins.
• Pickles – It acts as a supplement of salt, minerals & vitamins and is made up of almost all fruits and vegetables – Mango, Lime, Chilly, Ginger, Carrot, Tamarind, Gooseberry to name a few.
• Side Dishes – Various side dishes are incorporated. Salads are also used.
• Sweets – These are an essential part of any Indian meal. Sweets supply sugar for the hot climate of India.
It is said that apart from the meal itself, the way in which the items are organized on the plate optimizes digestion. The earliest versions of the thali can be seen in the form of broad banana leaves and organic dishes made from leaves. These were majorly used in festivals, rituals and weddings so as to dispose them easily. Some restaurants today serve with a bottomless refill system with the idea being that one can eat until they are fully satisfied. In large gatherings, it is considered a social faux pas to refuse any elements of food. Refills however can be refused.
Created on Dec 31st 1969 18:00. Viewed 0 times.