Sometimes there is just too much choice in the world.
Take your average paint store: there are over 1,500 different colours to choose from. There are over 1,000 different cars to buy. And there are more than 3,000 different brands of chocolate (at least according to that bastion of knowledge: Wikipedia).
Even your average Indian restaurant will have dozens of curries, sides and accompaniments. How can you possibly choose?
Enter the thali. A thali is an Indian meal made from various dishes: typically two or three curries, dhal, rice, bread, chutneys and yoghurt, maybe a salad and usually a dessert. It's a bit like a banquet for one.
Most restaurants that offer a thali will give you the choice of meat or vegetarian (and sometimes seafood) options but that is the only decision you then need to make.
You simply need to sit back and congratulate yourself on saving vital energy for more important things, like digestion.
A meat thali from Maya Masala, the dessert has the spoon in it
What does a thali look like? A thali is usually presented on a round metal tray with small bowls filled with a variety of dishes. You will typically get two or three curries, naan or pappadums, raita, dhal or a vegetable dish, rice, dessert and maybe a condiment or chutney.
If the rice comes in its own bowl, you simply upend it onto the tray or spoon some into each of the curries. Some thali trays are moulded so that each dish has its own little space.
Who is the thali perfect for?
Thali's are best for people for take forever to make up their mind, those who want to try a bit of everything and those who lose control when faced with an enormous menu. Thali takes the guess work out of dinner: the kitchen simply decides for you.
Thali's are not recommended for control freaks who need to micro-manage every aspect of their life.
What do you need to watch out for? Thali's are pretty straight forward, but you might want to determine which bowl contains your dessert and move it onto the table before you start.
Rice pudding doesn't go so well with mango chutney and when you mix it with lamb vindaloo, strange things can happen.
A thali courtesy of Wikipedia
Where can I get a thali?[
Not all Indian restaurants offer a thali but here are some that do:
How much should I expect to pay?
This is probably the best thing about the thali (and there is so much to love). While the thali will obviously reflect the general pricing structure of the restaurant, they are always good value and you can expect to pay around $13 to $20 for a vegetarian thali and between $14 to $25 for a meat or seafood thali.
Given the variety of dishes you will receive (plus all the extras) they represent brilliant value wherever you end up.
Keep in mind that with the meat and seafood thali you will still only get one or two meat/seafood curries. It won't be a plate of angus steak or prawns, there will most likely still be a vegetable or chicken curry on your platter.
Kabalasoon café in Joondalup. Tasty and honest Indian food. Maya Masala's food is awfully bland. Princes of India in Whittfords used to be nice, but was replaced by the very bland and minuscule servings of " the spice tree" new restaurant. The red Turban in joondalup used to be nice, right until the owners started to be there for longer periods and overcharged or made servings really small.