When hungry, go for ‘thali’

The delicious thali just before rice, chappatis and sambar is served

Yesterday, our good friend Francis suggested we try out a traditional Kerala thali for lunch. Most bachelors know that the best place to get a fairly good meal at a fairly good price is the small Malyalee restaurants in town. The ‘set’ which is a thali usually comes with rice, chapati, fish curry, a veggie, sambar, a piece of fried fish and a bit of pickle. You get in, find yourself a seat, get served in minutes and you can be done with the meal in less than 15 minutes. And that was what I was expecting.

When we walked into Airlines Restaurant (its right behind Red Tag on Najda Street), they had a full buffet set-up, but that wasn’t what we were there for. No problems, assured the waiter. We have thali too!

And that was some meal.

The Kerala Sadya – Banana leaf Thali, served on a crisp green banana leaf is a great eating experience. It is pure vegetarian and the highlight of Onam celebrations. The thali usually contains rice, pappadam, sarkara puratti, pazham, banana chips, chakka varuthathu, jalebi, rasam, avial, olan, pickle, moru, kaalan, chorum payasavum (rice and kheer), the more the dishes, the better.

But I understand that Airlines serves a fish variation every Friday. We had rice and chapattis with an amazingly great mango fish curry, chunks of fried fish,  a selection of six veggies, banana chips, papadams, pickles, and paysam. We chose to have some extra fried fish and with out still bottle water, the bill was just AED 120 for five persons.

Where could you get something better? The thali was authentic, piping hot, tasty, and filling and served with finesse in a good restaurant setting. Each of us really enjoyed the meal, but could hardly manage the second helping.

So take my advice. Wake up late on Friday, skip breakfast and do the thali at Airlines. You’ll be loving it!


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