I love Indian food but can never make up my mind about what I want. Committing to one full entree when I really want to sample a little bit of everything is way too much pressure so I end up getting something safe like chana masala for the 8,000th time in a row.
In these moments, Indian buffets are my best friend. But, for most restaurants, buffets are only offered during limited lunch or weekend hours and, thus, can’t save me from myself at all hours of every day.
But there’s one menu item that can. Thali, a large round platter filled with an assortment of several small dishes served together as one meal, is the answer to my Indian food ordering indecision, and you can find it on a few menus in Charlotte.
Thalis vary by region but, in general, are comprised of rice, dal (lentils), vegetables, yogurt, chutney and sometimes a dessert option. The idea is to create a perfectly balanced meal with sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and spicy elements all represented together.
In Charlotte, thalis are usually offered in a South Indian or North Indian variation with vegetarian or meat options. Here’s where to find them.
Woodlands, a strictly vegetarian Indian restaurant with a rare all-organic section of its menu, offers three thali selections — South Indian, North Indian and the Woodlands Royal Thali. The South option has a set menu while the North and Royal options allow your choice of two curries in addition to the set selections.
Address: 7128-A Albemarle Road
Price: $15.95 – $22.95
Chaupaati offers two standard thalis on the menu — vegetarian and non-vegetarian — as well as some specialty thalis offered throughout the year. For Diwali last month they offered a Punjabi thali special and earlier this year featured a popular Gujarati thali special.
Address: 9101-I Pineville-Matthews Road
Price: $14 – $16
Tulips serves halal Indian cuisine, including vegetarian or non-vegetarian thali with your choice of plain, butter or garlic naan. It’s also worth noting that they offer a lunch buffet Tuesday – Sunday as well as a special dosa dinner buffet on Thursday nights, alleviating the need to make any decisions ever.
Address: 9311 JW Clay Boulevard
Price: $12.99 – $14.99