North Indian vegetarian thaali /platter is that lavish feast you prepare when you have guests home or need to celebrate a special occasion. At times, nothing beats or makes people happier than a good old full blow shudh desi thaali and this North Indian vegetarian thaali /platter is just that. This post contains over 12 recipes along with drinks to serve with an Indian meal.
I just sat there. Quietly. Sated. Happy. Proud. With a big fat grin on my face. I glanced at the others around our huge and somewhat old and creaky wooden table. We all looked like caricatures of each other, each wearing similar expressions of silly joy on their faces, the kind of happiness that doesn’t sit normally on the face of 30 somethings. But then that’s the power of food. Nope. Lets correct that. THAT is the power of a good Indian thaali, aka platter.
For the uninitiated amongst us an Indian thaali/platter is a thing of absolute beauty. Festivals. Special occasions. Birthdays. Funerals. Guests at home or simply treating your family, it all starts and ends with a good thaali. When I was young I took thaalis somewhat for granted. Reason: My mother of course! She, the professor and principal of a leading college in Orissa couldn’t do simple lunches. The first memory of food and childhood revolves around the steaming bowls and plates of delicious homely fare my mom sent out to the dining table for every lunch. In fact Sunday was the simple day for her when she made just rice, chicken curry and a simple green salad. Rest of the days, we were spoilt with a minimum 6 item meal. I didnt realise then the effort of must have taken her to dole out so many dishes all on her own, with just a little girl as her measly, unhelpful assistant. She used to come back from work during lunch hours and immediately rush to the kitchen. In there, just like magic a cauldron would be set on one burner and dal on the other. The aroma, the sizzle of that pungent garlicky “saag” cooked with home made “badi” and that quick dal tadka will forever be etched in my heart.
Me? I make a thaali once in two weeks and feel like I have run a marathon!! And I feel that P should say thank you to me for the rest of the week. Not kidding. I am just not the saint my mother is and I definitely cant cook 6 item lunch daily!! The effort it takes to create a beautifully balanced thaali is ginormous but the joy, the absolute thrill of serving a feast to your favorite people in the world is unmatched. So occasionally, it feels amazing to make just a regular day extra ordinary by making this soulful North Indian vegetarian thaali/platter.
This Holi, I am bringing you this typical North Indian vegetarian thaali/platter, something that’s our first thaali of choice at home. As much I love the simple Oriya dishes of my childhood, thanks to life, a foodie husband and a “rather quickly bored” palate, I have taught myself many Indian cuisines. I am still learning of course, especially since the Indian cuisine just like the country itself has so many facets to it that its near impossible to know everything. But this North Indian vegetarian thaali/platter is after my own heart and the fact that P(a North Indian himself) and D love everything on this platter makes the effort so so worth it. So please don’t feel daunted!
If its your first thaali, begin simple. Choose 6 dishes from the under mentioned 12. Anything over 5 is a good thaali. Most of the items here are condiments and serve to turn a thaali into a proper gastronomy feast by including different textures, temperatures and consistency in the dishes. When savored together, they together like a perfectly cast spell ala Ms. Hermione Granger.
Make this easy and delicious North Indian vegetarian thaali when you want to treat someone like royalty!
For any vegetarian Indian meal to be complete few things are absolutely sacrosanct.
- Rice and flatbread of some kind.
- Dal or Kadhi.
- Paneer or Mushroom
- Aloo (potatoes) or some other vegetable
- Raita or salad
- Mithai (dessert).
- Something fried (like these garlicky aubergine fritter (beguni) or even simple poppadums)
With that thought in mind, I set about making this lavish spread to serve my friends for Holi. So go on, everything needs very basic simple everyday pantry items, doesn’t take too long and is immensely satisfying. It takes me 2 hours to prepare this whole meal but you can choose a few items or even just one and give Indian dishes a try. If you are not new to the kitchen and indian food like me, go make this North Indian vegetarian thaali/platter now!! After all Holi comes just once a year and a good feast like this should be mandatory that day!!
Wishing everyone a life filled with joy and happiness, good food and great friends,
Happy Holi to all those who celebrate!
1. Dal Fry – Dal (lentil) fry is a delicious and sumptuous bowl of health that’s a daily dish in most Indian homes. This dal fry recipe uses chana dal or split Bengal grams is a thicker and more delicious version of the daily dal. The tempering or tadka takes it to a new high.
2. Green peas pulao (rice) – Simple, quick and deliciously fragrant Basmati rice cooked to perfection with fresh green peas and cumin seeds, tempered with aromatic whole spices.
3. Chickpea curry or chole masala – This typical North Indian staple is a much adored curry in India. Served as breakfast or snack with some bhature (puffed deep fried bread) or alongside rice and parathas for a meal! This curry is spicy, tangy and just perfect.
4. Aloo methi – Poori and Aloo Jhol, a quintessential childhood favorite of every Indian. A winter morning ritual at my home – spicy,fragrant and slightly tangy potato stew served with hot deep fried puffed flatbreads or poori as its called in India. Follow the recipe as is , but for a sookha version dont add water which is what I have done here.
5 Paneer – I had made schezwan paneer that day ( recipe given below) but here are some other favorite paneer dishes of ours to choose from.
- Palak methi paneer – Palak methi paneer or Cottage cheese in a sumptuous and super healthy spinach & fenugreek gravy. This is a delicious take on the much loved palak paneer but with the goodness of fresh in-season fenugreek leaves.
- Thai style 15 min Paneer – Thai style paneer is an intriguing dish that takes a healthier and more flavorful twist to everyone’s favorite good old “paneer chilli”. Cottage cheese marinated in simple Thai spices and grilled with some veggies for a healthy and delicious appetizer. Swap paneer for tofu, if you want to make it vegan.
- Shahi Paneer– Shahi paneer is a perfect example of what Indian curries can be like. Its all about subtle spices, delicate aroma and a creamy scrumptious gravy that will make you want it with roti,naan, pulao or even with bread the morning after.
Matar Kachori – Matar kachori (peas stuffed fried dumplings) is a much loved Indian snack that can make almost anyone’s mouth salivate. Small balls of dough are stuffed with pickled spicy fresh peas and fried till they reach crispy flaky perfection. Served with some coriander mint chutney and date tamarind sweet chutney, this matar kachori is a must make for special occasions.
Sweet Pineapple Raita – Raita is an Indian yogurt based condiment used to accompany main dishes or snacks. The freshness of this sweet creamy yogurt with tiny juicy pineapple cubes lingering on the surface and hints of fresh ginger root is the most delightful raita I have ever tasted.
Flatbread (roti / no yeast 15 min garlic naan)– I am sure as Indian all of us know how to make rotis. So even though the platter that day showed roti, I am including the recipe for these 15 min no- yeast naan that is just perfect like the naans in restaurants. Also, North Indians love naan. No yeast garlic naan is the answer to all your “bread” prayers. The perfect accompaniment to your curry, this no-yeast, instant naan ensures you don’t have to wait for hours when you are in the mood for some hot off the stove garlic butter naan.
Date and tamarind chutney – Sweet and tangy chutney made with dates and tamarind simmered till thick and syrupy.
Pineapple Salsa – Pineapple jalapeno salsa with hints of fresh ripe mango, loads of fresh cilantro and zingy lemon juice is the perfect way to add some freshness to your desi thaali. Ready in 10 mins, vegan and totally healthy, this pineapple jalapeno salsa is a must make!
Cucumber salad – a staple in all Indian homes, this is a cooling side to any meal. Just chop cucumber and onions thin, add some lemon juice, chaat masala and salt to it and mix well. Cut just before serving.
Drinks: Refreshing , cooling drinks are a Godsend. Whatever you choose, a good Indian drink is a must with a North Indian vegetarian thaali/platter. So take your pick and enjoy! Also, if you are making this for Holi, I would strongly suggest making these:
- Chilled glasses of Thandai Sherbat (with homemade thandai masala) to serve with the thaali. It will take the whole experience of the North Indian vegetarian thaali/platter to another level altogether.
- Simple spiced buttermilk/chaas
- Exotic Peach Lassi for a sweet yet refreshing ending.
Desserts/ Mithai – Although this platter has only laddoos (which are store bought), you can choose any of the sweet dishes on the blog for a perfect sweet ending to a celebratory feast like this! There is simple rice kheer to a delicious butterscotch phirni, tapioca pudding to chocolate and caramel kheer, pineapple sandesh to even moong dal halwa. And if you looking for something specifically for Holi, these thandai pannacotta and thandai coconut fudge tarts are sheer perfection! Both are easy, fast and completely make ahead. Just type in the search bar and enjoy! Schzwan paneer and Garlicky aloo bhujia recipe given below.
PS: Click on the words in red to get that particular recipe.
A simple and quick paneer preparation that is just perfect as a side dish. This dish is spicy and sweet at the same time.
- 250 gms fresh paneer or cottage cheese, cut into cubes of 1 inch
- 1 whole red bell pepper (about 1 cup cut pieces) cut into 1inch cubes, you can use yellow and green as well.
- 1 whole red onion cut into 1 inch cubes
- 10 cloves of garlic chopped very finely
- 2 green chillies chopped fine
- 2 tsp schezwan sauce (I use ready made)
- 2 tsp any hot sauce
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 cup spring onions
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp cornflour
Start by heating 1 tbsp oil in a non stick skillet. Add the chopped garlic and saute for 30 secs. Toss in the onion and bell peppers and give it a quick toss. let it cook for 3-4 mins tills the raw smell of garlic is gone.
Now add the green chillies, all the sauces, salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 mins till the sauce seems a little darker and coats the veggies well. Make sure it doesn't burn. Keep flame on medium low.
Finally, toss the paneer cubes (add salt for the paneer). Make a slurry of the cornflour and water by mixing it in a bowl. Now add this slurry to the pan and let it coat the veggies and paneer well. Cover and let cook on low flame for 3-4 mins till cooked and almost dry.
Serve immediately sprinkled with some fresh spring onions.
Lehsuni Aloo Bhujia
A simple,quick and delicious way to cook potatoes. Cooked in copious amounts of garlic, these alu bhujia is one of my favorite ways to eat potatoes.
- 4 large potatoes cut into thick matchsticks, with the skin on
- 20 cloves of garlic
- 2 green chillies
- 1 medium onion chopped fine
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 dried red chillie
- salt as per taste
- 2 tbsp oil
Start by scrubbing the potatoes clean with a vegetable scrubber. Slice them into thick matchsticks. I like to keep the skin on , if you wish you can remove the skin. Keep the potatoes soaked in water till needed.
Pound the chilie and garlic in a mortar pestle. Keep aside.
Heat a non stick karahi or pan. Add 2 tbsp oil to it. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and dried red chillie and let it sputter.
Now add the pounded garlic to the oil, fry for 1 minute then add the chopped onion.
Once the onion turns pink, add the spices and cook for 30 secs. Now add the potatoes (drain the water). Be careful it will splutter a bit. Add salt and turmeric, give it a thorough stir and cook on high for 4-5 mins.
Now cover the karahi and cook for 10-12 mins on low flame till potatoes are cooked through. Cut one with the spatula to see if its done.
Once cooked through, cook for 3-4 mins on high flame to crisp up the bhujia a bit. Dont forget to keep stirring in between to avoid sticking to the pan.
Serve garnished with coriander leaf is desired.