Simple South Indian Thali – Tamil Nadu

Like it or not, we have to eat three times a day. Once the breakfast is over and you catch your breath, its time for lunch. And after a relaxed lunch, when you feel sleepy and at peace with the whole wide world, the stomach starts grumbling again.Time for dinner.

This cycle doesn’t stop. Its fine actually, I love eating different kinds of food. The snag is that I just don’t like cooking them. Not three times a day, seven days a week, four weeks a month (you get the idea).

So weekends are dedicated to restaurants. But after one point, your wallet and your stomach protest at the very thought. So when I need really good home made food, I turn to my mother in law. An awesome cook, even her everyday food is a mini thali. Like the thali here. It tastes as good as it looks too.

I made just that rasam so that I can post it here without any guilt.

Everyday Tamil Nadu Meals Menu:

  • Vegetable Dishes and Curries
    • Keerai Masial : Spinach cooked and mashed
    • Raw Banana Podimas : Cooked and grated raw bananas cooked with minimum spices
    • Rasam : Made with ginger and green chilies
    • Mor Kuzhambu : Yogurt based gravy, with ash gourd cooked in
  • Plain Rice
  • Dal
  • Sides
    • Banana Chips : Store bought, usually we have pappadom
    • Lemon Pickle : Home made
  • Sweet
    • Motichur ladoo : Store bought

Usually, rice is served with sambar/mor kuzhambu/ kuzhambu and a vegetable side dish. In some homes, two side dishes are common. A second course is with rice, rasam and the same vegetable side dish. Final round is rice and curd with pickle. Sweet is not common as part of regular meals.

Recipe adapted from here

Ingredients for Rasam:

  • Tamarind paste                    :          1 tsp
  • Toor dal                                  :           1/4 cup, cooked
  • Tomato                                   :           1, chopped fine
  • Ginger                                      :           1″ piece, chopped
  • Green Chilies                        :            1
  • Sambar powder                   :            2 tsp
  • Pepper powder                    :            1/2 tsp
  • Salt


  1. Mix the tamarind paste with two cups of water. Add the tomatoes, green chili, ginger, sambar powder, pepper powder, salt and bring it to a boil.
  2. Let it boil for 5-8 minutes, till the raw smell of tamarind goes away. Mash the tomatoes well with a ladle. Do a taste test and adjust seasonings and add one more cup of water, if required.
  3. Add the dal, let it boil for another 3-4 minutes and take off the heat.
  4. For tempering, heat one teaspoon of ghee in a small kadai. Add mustard seeds and a pinch of hing. Add 4-5 curry leaves and once it turns color, add it to the rasam. Serve hot with rice and papad.

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18 thoughts on “Simple South Indian Thali – Tamil Nadu

  1. What an amazing blog…with superb clicks!! Thanks for stopping by. Glad to be at your space :-)

    That is an excellent idea…thought not many people will have recipes for snacks. Please include it in your entry. The more the better! Happy blogging!


  2. Totally agree with you about the 3 meals and how we spend most of the day either cooking or thinking what to make for each meal — we are on this planet to live, eat and enjoy!!
    Thali looks super.


  3. Looks awesome Rajani…I like the way you included water to the thaali ;)..Wish I had my mil staying somewhere close by …she would be more than happy to cook thaali each and every day.


  4. Thali is making me hungry now. It is too much work to make thali on a daily basis particularly when there are only two people to eat. Kids are picky about a lot of stuff anyway.


  5. hey sounds so much like my MIL…even she serves her sides like this…everything goes on a mini plate on the big plate…makes it so appealing…i m interested in that lemon pickle and that raw banana podima’s


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