Having grown up on the thali-culture down south, I'm a sucker for all things that come in that shiny steel plate. A thali means a large sample of the goodies of the day. A thali means you get to taste everything on the menu and yet opt to eat what you like the best. For a glutton like me, this has always been the perfect answer.
We started our meal with a warm corn shorba, which was like a thin-yogurt curry with a lovely tempering of spices. Piping hot and mildly sweet and spicy, this was quite the appetite whetter. As our shiny thalis were laid out, the chutneys came out first - mint, tamarind and garlic - all equally good. With crisp roasted pappads, it was only moments by the time we'd chomped down our crispies.
The menu at Kathputli changes every week, so this week our starters included Khaman and a matar ka samosa. The Khaman was slightly bland but did well after a few dunks in the chutney. I loved the matar ka samosa, as the peas were fresh and had a sweetness that it lends itself to only in the winters.
Next up was the raw papaya salad - almost like a som tam - it had been tempered with curry leaves and mustard leaves to give it that Indian flavour. This was truly my favourite of the day. The traditional Ker Sangri also made its way to our plates - which we saved to eat with our khichadi later.
Dal Baati Choorma - the three things I'd been waiting for arrived. I loved the baati - it had been dunked in ghee but was still crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. So delicious. The Dal could have been a lot more flavourful, it lacked a sort of a punch, that I guess a bit of salt and tartness could have helped.
As our bowls started getting filled up - we ended up with gatta curry, gujrati kadhi, dahi aloo, raita, methi malai matar and hot phulkas and bajre ke roti. I really enjoyed everything, but of the lot the kadhi and the dahi aloo were really stalwarts.
We ended our meal with a good helping of shrikhand - or sweetened yogurt with saffron and pistachios and realised that we hadn't eaten very greasy food. Instead this was food from our homes, food that reminded of the years bygone. This was great home-style cooking.
Turned out it was a Maharaj / a home-style cook who had been cooking. I suppose there's something left to still say about good old fashioned simple food. The kind that really makes you happy.