I am obsessed with thali, a traditional South Indian platter consisting of several smaller dishes of around three curries, chapatis, rice and dessert. It is everything you need on one plate.
I am exploring the thali and cannot wait to recreate one at home. In the meantime, I have been getting tips by reading up on this subject (which makes me very hungry) but also keeps me informed.
I am in the middle of making my way through Maunika Gowardhan’s Thali, which is such a beautiful cookbook, it can easily double up as a coffee table book.
I have been seeking a thali delivery service in Derby or nearby and was on the verge of giving up when I came across Mooli. Cue inner cartwheels of joy.
Founder Sangeeta heads up the operation that they say is ‘the ultimate Indian home-dining experience’. Food is already cooked, you simply sling in the oven or microwave to reheat and pile high onto their supplied thali trays that Mooli say are made with naturally fallen palm leaf.
I’m not going to lie, I was really excited to receive the box. I mean, they’re actual thalis and they looked great too.
I wish I didn’t have to chuck them, they were so pretty. I was contemplating putting the trays after dinner in the dishwasher to see if they would survive, but it became clear at the end of the meal this was not going to happen.
The texture of the palm leaf was starting to become a teensy weensy bit soft, so in the recycling bin (after dinner of course) they went. Online ordering is really easy and I managed to get a slot for delivery 24 hours later.
Delivery is free on orders over £40 and can be enjoyed by hungry diners across the UK. At the time of publication, all thali dishes cost £35 and serves two people. I ordered the regal-sounding thali called Royal Kitchens of Rajasthan which is vegetarian. This included the following curries:
- Papadum curry (papad sabzi): Pieces of papad simmered in a rich tomato and fenugreek yoghurt gravy, creating an Indian take on the lasagne.
- Jodhpuri potatoes (aloo ki sabzi): Baby potatoes cooked in tomatoes with a tangy whole spice blend for a real kick.
- Zesty spiced salad
- Aromatic ghee rice (bhaat) with cashews and raisins
- Two Indian flatbreads (chapati)
I also ordered another current obsession of mine, a butter chicken curry. Curries were hearty and seasoned well.
I especially liked the butter chicken, daal and papad sabzi. The latter was similar to another personal favourite, the traditional Gujarati kadhi in all its tangy, yoghurty glory.
I found a hint of sweetness in the butter chicken chicken and daal, but not the papad sabzi, which I preferred. Most Gujarati food has a touch of sweetness to it, especially daal and I don’t know why.
I hail from a Gujarati family and we never ate sweeter curries at home, apart from sweet daal, which I steered clear of. I remember going to weddings when a child and every single event served food that was sweet, so perhaps sweeter curries is something to do with the Gujarati culture.
Whilst sweeter curries are not something I love (I prefer my curries savoury), I managed to dissipate the curries’ sweetness with a spritz of lemon and a sprinkling of Himalayan pink rock salt.
In the box was a bonus Diwali sweet consisting of two nuggets of a chocolate-besan confection. It tasted of Ferrero Rocher but with an Indian, cardamom twist which was absolutely delightful.
A Mooli thali is more than just a takeaway, it is also a fun dining experience requiring minimal effort. I literally slung food in the oven and 25 minutes later, scarfed the lot with my bare hands – the only way to eat a thali.
For more information on Mooli, stalk their social or visit website moolifood.com. I will be ordering again, I have my eye on the Keralan Backwaters thali that features an intriguing black pepper chicken dish.