Self-taught cook and food writer Maunika Gowardhan invites readers into a world of hot, sour, spicy, crispy, tangy and sweet flavors that all have a place on the Indian thali—translated, “a large plate”.
Whether sharing the simplest dinner or an elaborate meal, to assemble a thali is to put together a complete, communal meal. Gowardhan writes, “Growing up in India, eating a thali was when I felt most at home: surrounded by family, feasting with ladlefuls of curries served across the dinner table as we shared conversations about our days, our lives, books, politics and food. Second and third servings were always welcome, and meals were savoured.”
Gowardhan explains all the elements that a thali should include, and provides inspiration in the form of regional examples and menu planning suggestions. But she urges cooks to choose their own adventure by diving into robust chapters that cover everything from soupy dals to pickles, chutneys, and a sweet to round out the meal.
Her recipes can certainly stand alone and are drawn from extensive travels across India, as well as a trove of time-tested family specialties—look out for her Achari Gosht, a slow cooked lamb curry in pickling spices; Bharleli Paplet, a spicy bream stuffed with onions, garlic and tomatoes; and Parsi Gajjar Mewa Nu Achar, a sticky carrot, date and apricot chutney that has been in her family for over 50 years.
Hardcover. Color photos throughout.