Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Raw South Indian Thali

A thali is a meal usually served as a late lunch. It can be as simple as rice and a few soups and sauces, or as complex as a multi-course meal. Northern Indian Cuisine is quite different than Southern Indian, so a thali will vary a lot depending on where you are. The basics of a thali is a rice, a soup, a vegetable salad, a yogurt, and something sweet. You can mix and match at your own discretion, but here is a sample thali that I created for some friends while studying in Southern India.

Components: (Serves 4)
              • Veggie Rice
              • Banana Curry
              • Cucumber Raita
              • Simple Carrot Kosambari
              • Green Coconut Chutney
              • Rawsome Tomato Rasam   
              • Gulab Jamun
Veggie Rice:
  • 2 cups grated green cabbage
  • 2 cups grated kolrabi OR grated jicama OR grated cauliflower OR grated zucchini
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste
1. Grate the vegetables, making sure to squeeze the excess liquid out of the jicama and zucchini, if using, and then fluff the rice with your hands.
1. Add the other ingredients and stir well, fluffing with the spoon.

Banana Curry:
  • 5 ripe bananas, sliced in half down the middle and cut into 1/2 inch thick half-moons
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 - 1 small chopped green chilli (if you like it hot, add more)
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder 
  •  4-5 tbsp chopped cilantro
  •  1 tbsp red chilli powder
  •  1 tsp lime juice
  • salt to taste
1. Mash one half of the bananas with a fork
2. Add mustard seeds, chillies, turmeric, lime juice, chilli powder, and most of the cilantro, leaving enough to garnish. Remember to adjust the spice Mix well.
3. Add in the half-moons and gently stir, being careful to keep the banana chunks whole.
4. Serve with a veggie rice.

Cucumber Raita (Yogurt): Raita is a sour and fresh yogurt dish served with main dishes to offset the pungent spiciness of most Indian food. There are many versions of Raita including tomato, carrot, and spinach. I chose cucumber because its extra cooling qualities help sooth the sensitive raw foodist's pallet, and the crisp crunch adds texture to an otherwise mushy meal.
  • 1.5 cups young coconut meat
  • juice of 1 large lime, or 2 small limes
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped
  • cumin powder
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • mint leaves to garnish (optional)
  • salt to taste
1. Blend coconut meat with the lime juice
2. Add cucumber and cumin powder and mix thoroughly. Place in the refrigerator and let sit 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Kosambari (Raw Carrot and Mung Bean Salad): Kosambari is a traditional Indian dish, served raw. You will find many vendors on the street serving Kosambiri in newspaper cones, which is a great option for raw foodists if you aren't afraid of street food. Optional add-ins are grated coconut, cucumber
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup mung beans, sprouted (volume will increase when they sprout)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 Thai green chili diced (to taste)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lime, or 1 small lime
  • salt to taste  
1. Sprout your mung beans by submerging 1/4 cup in  water and leaving for 4 hours. Drain and rinse well, and then leave to sprout for the rest of the day. Mung beans get soft quickly, if you sprout them in the morning they should be fine to eat for dinner.
2. Mix everything together and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the carrots to soften and the flavors to meld.

Rawsome Tomato Rasam: Rasam is a spicy south Indian soup with a sour tamarind base.
  • 2 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp sour tamarind paste
  • 1-2 dates
  • 12 curry leaves 
  • 1 green chilli, diced
  • juice of 1 lime
  1. Remove the seeds from your tamarind pods to make a paste, being careful to remove bits of shell.
  2. Put all the ingredients in the blender except cilantro and blend until smooth
  3. Garnish with cilantro and serve in a small metal bowl.

Green Coconut Chutney: A classic South Indian side, coconut chutney is eaten at nearly every meal. Most often served along with sambar on idlis and dosas, it makes an excellent condiment for nearly everything. Many coconut chutneys are served raw, but some do contain cooked oils or gram dal.
  • 1/2 cup grated, mature coconut
  • 1/2 green chilli, chopped
  • 6 curry leaves (if not available, mint or cilantro may be substituted)
  • 1/4 inch piece ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon thick tamarind paste
  •  salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water
 1. Blend the ingredients into a thick paste. If the amount is too small for your blender, you may have to double the recipe. 

Gulab Jamun:A popular dessert throughout the Indian subcontinent, Gulab Jamun is not something anyone would call healthy. The deep fried dough balls are made out of milk solids and flour, and then floated in a thick brown sugar syrup scented with rosewater, saffron or cardamom. It's raw version is delicious, if heavy, especially with a side of banana ice cream.
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dates, soaked overnight to soften and pitted
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cardamom pods or a pinch of ground cardamom
  • 2 drops of rosewater
1. Blend the dates with enough soak water to form a thick paste. Set aside extra soak water.
2. Scrape vanilla bean into a bowl with the almond flour. Mix enough date paste into the almond flour to make a thick, sticky dough and that's dry enough to form into balls by rolling between your palms. Place balls into a shallow dish and put in the dehydrator 1-2 hours.
3. Shortly before serving, blend the remaining date paste with the soak water, cardamom, and rosewater
4. Remove balls from dehydrator and pour the date water over them. Serve warm.

Thalis are traditionally served on a metal plate with sections, but I didn't have one of those. To serve, place the rice in the middle of the plate, and then put a dollop of each of the other items in a circle around the rice, keeping each dish from touching the others. Garnish with tomato slices and cilantro.


  1. OMG Lindsay, that looks so good. Thanks you for sharing! I miss you and Rob! Much love to both of you. <3
    Oh, and i am gonna try my first Filipino durian tonight. Fingers crossed :)

  2. Question! Why do you add dates to the raw rasam?


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