Improvised Onam-special Thali!

‘Thali’ system is a quite a popular system of dining in South-Indian restaurants of India. Each individual is served a huge variety of dishes in a large plate each, all at the same time. The dishes vary from savory to sweet, from dry to curries, from rice to idlis and dosas, from beverages to snacks to main courses. It’s quite over-whelming the very first time, but always so much fun!

In South-india, this system is a common way of serving meals on daily basis in most of the households. Large banana leaves serve as plates and meal consists of a lot of traditional foods. On festivals and occasions, the number of foods served to guests on and around the banana leaves increases to double or even triple. Doesn’t that sound delicious and incredible? I just love my country so so much!

I wanted to do a ‘Thali’ post for my blog for a long, long time, and this week’s theme for the FoodieMonday Bloghop – Onam Recipes, gave me a chance to jump right into it.


Onam is an annual Hindu festival with origins in the state of Kerala in Southern India. This traditional ten day harvest festival marks the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali. The festival is celebrated grandly with new clothes, feasts served on banana leaves, dancing, sports, games, and the iconic boat races.

Though the Onam feast can comprise of both veg and non-veg foods, I have stuck to making the vegetarian version this time. I am calling this post the *Improvised* Thali meal because where the Onam special thali will mostly comprise of all Kerela-style dishes, I have made foods from different parts of South-India. The lentils are made from my family Konkani recipe and the Sambar is Andra-style which I learnt from a cooking lady in Hyderabad. 

I have already shared the recipes of Idli-Sambar on the blog in the past, so I am just going to share their links here, instead of repeating them. Also, I am not sharing recipes for things like boiled rice, poppadums and mango pickle because they are either too basic, or store-bought or not made by me. 😉 

Have a great week ahead foodies, and wish everyone who is celebrating, a very Happy Onam!! xx


Links to my Andra-style Sambar and home-made Idli-Dosa batter-


1. Cabbage Thoran- (Kerela-style Cabbage Stir-fry)-


  • 2 cups shredded Cabbage.
  • 1/4 cup fresh, grated coconut
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Some crushed Ginger-Garlic-Green chillies
  • 2 tbsn coconut oil
  • 1 tsp Red chilly powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste


  • In a pan, heat some coconut oil. Add Hing & mustard seeds. Wait a few seconds for the seeds to crackle. Add crushed Ginger-Garlic- Green chillies and fry for a couple of seconds. Add finely chopped onion, salt and turmeric powder. Mix and cook for 4-5 mins of medium-low flame covered. Add in your grated fresh coconut, followed by shredded Cabbage.  Add some red chilly powder of you want! Cover and cook until the cabbage is nicely cooked and soft. Serve hot! 


2. Konkani style Dalitoy (Tempered Yellow Lentils)-


  • 1 cup Toor dal
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/5th tsp Powdered Asafoetida
  • 4-5 Dried Red chillies
  • 7-8 Curry leaves
  • 1-2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsn Ghee (Clarified Butter) 
  • Some chopped fresh, Coriander
  • Salt to taste


  • Wash and boil the lentils in a pressure cooker with salt, turmeric & asafoetida, for about 7-8 mins after the first whistle on high. To temper the Dalitoy, heat the ghee in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Throw in curry leaves and red chillies and fry for a few seconds. Add the boiled lentils and let them come to a boil. Switch off the gas stove and add lots of fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with boiled Rice and some ghee!


3. Mattha (Spiced Yogurt Drink)-


  • 1 cup chilled, natural Yogurt (whisked)
  • 1.5 cup Water
  • 1 tsp Roasted Cumin powder
  • A pinch of Asafoetida
  • For tempering1 tsp oil, 2-3 curry leaves and 1/4 tsp mustard seeds 
  • Some chopped Coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste


  • Combine all the ingredients except for the ones needed for tempering and mix well. Add more water if the liquid is too thick. To temper, heat the oil. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves to hot oil and let sizzle for a few seconds. Pour the tempering over the chilled liquid and give a good mix. Add Chopped coriander and serve!

4. Sooji Sheera (An Indian Semolina dessert)-


  • 1/2 cup Semolina (Rava/Sooji)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1.5 cup water
  • ½ tsp of cardamom powder
  • 4-5 Saffron strands soaked in 2 tbsn of water (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cashews


  • Combine water and sugar in a pan. Bring to a rolling boil and Set aside. Heat the ghee in a separate pan. Fry your cashews in it for around 1 minute till they change color slightly. Extract and set aside in a plate. To the ghee, add semolina and roast over medium-low heat, stirring constantly till it changes color to a uniform, light brown. It should take around 6-7 minutes. Add the sweet water and mix well so there are no lumps remaining. Add the saffron water and cardamom powder. Simmer for 2-3 minutes till the water gets nicely absorbed and switch off the gas stove. Garnish with roasted cashews and serve hot!

Your improvised Onam special, South-Indian thali meal is ready! Serve everything with Boiled rice, mango pickle and fried papads.











23 Comments Add yours

  1. Mick Canning says:

    My absolute favourite! I once had a thali in Southern India with 17 dishes total.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mine too! Thali meals rock!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh wow! The thali looks so inviting! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. poonampagar says:

    I am drooling over that awesome platter Mallika ! Every dish looks so inviting ..perfect share for the theme !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kurian says:

    Thank you very much for this, an appropriate one for the season.
    We celebrate Onam as the most important state festival in Kerala. Irrespective of the religion. And we are all going to be busy in the coming days

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you are all safe in Kerela and had a nice Onam!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kurian says:

        Thank you so much. We are safe where we live. Please read my post today about my brother stuck in the flood and a divine intervention


  5. Raj says:

    Thali is the king of all lunch/dinner in south India. I always opt for a thali whenever I visit a vegetarian restaurant. I like the anticipation and the surprises thali offers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here! Thali meals rock!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mistimaan says:

    Thats lovely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome share Mallika. Thali looks so inviting. Every dish sounds super tempting. I wish I could grab the whole platter.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laura says:

    I love the tradition of thali and often try and replicate it at home – so much variety packed into one feast!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So sweet! Same here! I love it too!!


  9. Saswati says:

    Mallika…that platter looks wow…so tempting ..what a lovely share.


  10. Malu loved this yummy platter.Looks inviting and delish. Apt share for the theme.Glad to know about your southindian roots.


  11. For my daughter’s haldi ceremony we had a whole South Indian thali.. with over 16 items and when I was deciding the menu had to look up words like payasam, thoran, etc. The whole idea of having it on the banana leaf was an experience for the guests from abroad. Love your cabbage thoran recipe, its a must try one.


  12. Delicious and mouthwatering! 🙂


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