Thali - The most balanced traditional meal from India

Across India, we have the system of consuming fully balanced meals arranged neatly in little cups around a plate or a thali. A thali literally means ‘round plate.’ Arranged on the thali are multiple dishes, eaten either with rice and or chapati. Smaller portions of various items with different tastes are organised in a particular order. When proceeding around the plate one is usually adviced to start with something sweet, according to Ayurveda and to end with something that is astringent in taste like buttermilk. This is believed to be the best way of aiding the digestion and metabolism of food.

Ancient systems of medicine discovered ways to present, enjoy, and digest food in incredible ways. The thali is one of the important evolutions of traditional Indian food. Evolved over many hundred years, the thali provides nutritionally complete and well balanced meals because of the carefully chosen variety of ingredients in the various dishes.


Find out the key dishes in traditional thalis from across India.

To Reflect Upon

bulletWestern conceptions of diet has us eating the dessert last. In Ayurveda, it is recommended we start with the sweet dish. Can you think about why this is so?