Thali Cape Town Jan ’18 – by Lynelle Moodley

Thali is many things, but to the Indian people, it is a meal to be shared and enjoyed in almost every home. Thali is a way of life. The dish usually consists of various small portions of Indian foods served in a round, metal platter with rice, roti or naan as condiments. The goal is to have something to cater to all taste buds; sweet, sour, bitter, spicy etc. on one plate.

Thali-courtyard

It was difficult to imagine a restaurant capturing the atmosphere and feeling of South Indian and bringing the flavour of real Thali to Cape Town. I’m glad to say I was not disappointed. The smell Sandalwood incense greets you as soon as you walk into the restaurant, with the cool blue and gold decor making you feel as if you stepped into a Calcutta courtyard.

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The seating arrangement provided a view of all the dishes being plated and I was pleased to see pots, pans and platters that were indicative of the Indian culture – almost like I was eating in a village with the locals.

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Menu

Thali for 2

Potato & Sweetcorn Chaat, Charred Poppadum

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Smoked Tadka Dhal,Paratha

Tandoori Cauliflower, Cumin Cauliflower Pureé, Cashew & Coconut Salad

Tandoori Chicken Skewers, Tomato Chilli Jam, Cucumber Coriander Raita

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Fried Fish Tacos

Line Fish, Roast Peanut Pureé, Coconut & Lime Dressing

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Smoked Lamb CurryIMG_2534

Panch Phoran Seafood Curry

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Vegetarian

Thali for 2

Potato & Sweetcorn Chaat, Charred Poppadum

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Smoked Tadka Dhal, Paratha

Tandoori Cauliflower,Cumin Cauliflower Pureé,Cashew & Coconut Salad

Chana Masala

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Vegetable Kofta, Pickled Carrots

Spiced Tomato Tartlet

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Panch Phoran Vegetable Curry

Paneer Mushroom, Spiced Spinach

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We dined on “Thali for 2”, a selection of 4 tapas dishes to share with one of the sets of tapas in the vegetarian option. The first consisted of a charred poppadum in the shape of a bowl, housing potato and sweet corn chaat with coriander and mint paste and tamarind paste. The coolness of the dish made for a wonderful combination with the heat of the chili. All components worked well together- the tamarind adding an almost sour flavour and the pomegranate seeds adding freshness to each bite. The chaat bowls were accompanied by an all-spice and chili pickle (not for the faint hearted).

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The second dish was a mixture of foods, more to the style of proper Thali. Cauliflower done 3 ways – tandoori, in a purée and in a coconut and cashew salad was in one bowl, the other bowl contained a signature Thali dish of dhal and paratha concluded the Thali. The dish also included tandoori chicken skewers accompanied by a sort of sweet spicy jam and cucumber raita (similar to tzatziki). This dish was perfect for eating with the senses: the smell of the spices was mouth-watering and the display was tantalizing enough to eat. Which is exactly what we did?

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Fish was the start of the third dish. Kingklip was used in the fish tacos wish was extremely light and fresh after the heaviness of the paratha and spices in the previous dish. In addition to the tacos was seared tuna in a coconut coriander sauce and peanut purée. The tuna was expertly done, yet the lack of a texture component made the combined space and purée almost soup-like.

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South Asian Thali does not usually consist of a meat component but the final serving was combination of lamb curry and Panch phoron (a type of spice blend) seafood curry. It was Thali with a twist. The brass platter also had savoury rice, naan and sambles as accompaniments.

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The pieces of lamb were so tender, it would melt in your mouth and the curry was overall very flavourful, although not as spicy as it could have been (I was born with chilies in my mouth so I can’t complain). The seafood curry was made up of prawn, kingklip and mussels. The Panch Phoran was definitely the star of the dish, however, you can taste that the spice mix did not get to fully absorb into the seafood – a consequence of cooking the protein separately from the sauce.

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The only negative thing about Thali that was noteworthy was that the dishes arrived in rapid succession so the time between meals was too short to really appreciate the dish you’d just eaten before another was placed in front of you.

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I am the harshest critic because I expect so much of Indian cuisine and I’m happy to say I was not in the slightest disappointed with the food. Thali transported me to the olden times of Indian where my great-grandparents may have been eating this food day in and day out, a staple and witness to their lives.

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For the full album click HERE

Restaurant Info:

Thali Restaurant

3 Park Rd,

Gardens

Cape Town,

South Africa

 Tel No: +27 21 286 2110

Email: info@thalitapas.co.za

Please do note they don’t take reservations so come early.

Opening Hours:

Lunch

Tuesday – Saturday

12PM – 2:30PM

Dinner

Monday – Saturday

5PM – 9:30PM

Written for JAR PHOTOGRAPHY by Lynelle Moodley

Photography for JAR PHOTOGRAPHY by Jason “Dubbz” Petersen

 

 

 

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