Thali (थाली) is a favored Indian and Nepalese style meal. I say meal because it’s not just one dish, but a smorgasbord of several delicious mini meals presented to you on a platter. The translation of the word Thali means ‘plate’, and in fact, you do often receive Thali on a metal plate accompanied by small metal bowls soon to be filled with these delicious mini-meals.
You can expect to receive at least six different varieties of servings consisting of spicy, sweet, salty, savory and bitter flavors. Keep in mind that Thali does vary depending on which region you are located, and is extremely popular in the Northern States of India. However, you will also find it, though not as much, in South India.
There’s one particular restaurant spread throughout India that is serving up some of the best Thali you can find outside of Rajasthan and Gujarat. At Rajdhani, You can forget just having 6 portions of small meals at this restaurant, and instead can expect to be served 10 or more sumptuous vegetarian delicacies. Are you ready for your mouth to water?
Something unique about Rajdhani is that they have 72 massive rotating menus, that change daily! I have never gotten the same meal twice. Included in the different menus, are about 22,464 dishes that were inspired by both Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Rajdhani is a pure vegetarian restaurant, meaning there is no animal-derived products used in the making of the food, just good ole fruits, vegetables, grains, spices, nuts, beans, and aromatic herbs. They are spread throughout 10 states in India, an even if you’re a die-hard carnivore, you will be amazed at how filling and delicious these vegetarian delights are. Did I mention it was all-you-can-eat?
Equally important as the taste and quality of the food, is the service that you receive. When you walk through the doors of Rajdhani there will be a host who greets you by applying a dab of tikka just between your eyebrows. This is a common Indian custom that can be applied when welcoming someone, a type of blessing, or used for auspicious situations. The reason it’s applied between your eyebrows versus anywhere else is that this area is considered the point where your third eye (in terms of spirituality) opens, giving us great wisdom and intuition.
Afterwards, you will be led to your seat; where the great feast begins. There is a wait staff constantly on the move carrying deep-set metal serving trays filled with the daily delicacies. Over the course of 5 minutes or so, depending on how busy the restaurant is, your plate will be overflowing with an abundance of flavors.
In terms of Rajasthani cuisine, many believe that your meal is not complete unless you’ve had a serving of Dal Baati. This is a dish that will always be served to you at Rajdhani, in the larger serving bowl, and is made of round flaky bread balls that were baked, and then later fried and crushed with a little sugar (jaggery) mixed in – this is baati. Dal is a dish made from split lentils, and is the consistency of a thick soup. Alongside this traditional delicacy, you’ll be served up wonderful side portions of chopped lady fingers (okra), palak paneer (cottage cheese with spinach), paneer butter masala, aloo (potatoes) in a tomato gravy, chole (chickpeas) masala, gobi (cauliflower) manchurian, and so many more options that vary each day. You’re also given three curries made with khad (chickpea flour)i: sweet, spicy, and mild.
Many different types of breads are given, such as phulka roti (whole wheat puffy flat bread), jowari rotla (flat bread made from sorgum flour) saatpadi roti (7-grain flat bread mixed with a variety of spices), and sometimes even besan masala puri (a puffed up flat bread made with chickpea flour, and seasoned with masala). You are also given many chutneys and dipping sauces, crunchy papad (similar to tortilla chips but often made with lentils, chickpeas, or rice), and salad that usually consists of beet root or onions with cucumber and bean sprouts. You’ll also be offered rice that you can mix with the curries or vegetable dishes.
When it comes to sweets, Rajdhani has you covered. You’ll usually be served at least 2 to 3 varieties of desserts, such as apple basundi (apples in a sweetened custard or almond milk), jalebi (deep-fried wheat batter made into a pretzel shape with a sugared syrup filling), gulab jamun (made from milk solids), and vermicelli kheer (with almond milk, dried fruits, and nuts). Remember there is so much more offered here as these are just a few based on the 22,464 varieties available! With all these delicious variations of Thali to choose from, it’s almost hard to believe that they also have a standard menu that offers many North Indian favorites.
If you don’t have time to sit and dine like royalty, you can always opt for a take away box! Rajdhani offers many to-go options that include more or less tasty mini meals. The Special Meal Box for 175 INR (2.63 USD) is a wonderful option for dinner and comes with a fried appetizer (farsan), 2 vegetable dishes, 5 phulkas, papad, 1 dessert, rice, and dal. Though, if you’re just in the mood for a few snacks, grab the Snack Box for 60 INR (.90 USD) that includes 2 fried appetizers and 2 steamed ones as well. The steamed farsan are one of my favorites as it’s similar to non-sweet sponge cake that is sandwiched with a little chutney in the middle. Monday is the perfect time for take-away because Rajdhani offers the Monday Meal Box for just 99 INR (1.48 USD), which comes with items similar to that in the Special Meal Box.
Rajdhani is open daily from 12pm until 3:30pm, then again from 7pm until 11:30pm. The price to enjoy this luxurious Thali is 375 INR (5.63 USD) per person during lunch, and 475 INR (7.14 USD) per person during dinner. The very best day of the week to head to Rajdhani is on Tuesday (Thali Tuesday) when there is a set price of just 250 INR (3.76 USD) per person that still remains to be all-you-can-eat. This restaurant is an amazing place to dine with your family, friends, or loved one, and even children enjoy the experience too!
Click Here to head over to the Rajdhani website where you can view their recipe of the month, find the closest restaurant, or even inquire about catering your next event!