Friday, January 20, 2012

Georgia Thali

While visiting my parents in Georgia, we had our first experience with thali, otherwise known as "a unique experience in gourmet eating" through Indian vegetarian cuisine.
 
  
JH did some searching on Yelp.com for the highest-rated restaurants in the area, and came across Vatica Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, which immediately caught our eye. Vegetarian! Indian! All You Can Eat! $8.99! Thali!

What's there not to love?

So, we made it there faster than you could say lickety-split, and soon were treated to this feast:

This traditional thali preparation offers a range of different curries in separate bowls, along with rice and other accoutrements. In this particular case, we got (beginning with the bread at the bottom and moving clockwise): roti (flatbread), a sweet treat made of rice flour, raita (yogurt sauce), a bean curry, potato-pea curry, malai kofta (like vegetarian meatballs), daal (lentil soup), basmati rice, and in the middle, some sort of potato bite with cilantro sauce, and papadam (thin, crispy cracker). 

It was all delicious--though in a subtle and comforting way, not in a knock-your-socks-off-flavorful-Indian kind of way. And there were unlimited refills on all of it! So, by the end of the meal, we were looking like this:


Although the food was satisfying, the real highlight of the place were the friendly owner and his quirky co-owner uncle. We told them it was our first time at the restaurant, and that we were from out of state, so the quirky uncle came up specially to talk to us, and to laugh very loudly and buoyantly with us, at unexpected moments. He was a real character.

Perhaps this sign that was posted in the restaurant can give a glimpse into some of his silliness:


When I asked "Is that really what VATICA stands for?," he responded by laughing, you guessed it, loudly and bouyantly.

Oh, and in addition to the thali, the signs on the restaurant window promised "tasty snacks," which they delivered, in the form of this spicy Indian trail mix (often known as chevda, or Bombay mix), and these sweet date-coconut-nut treats:


All in all,  dining at Vatica was a delight, and I encourage you all to go out looking for some thali and quirky proprietors of your own!

5 comments:

  1. The second A is "any day" or, maybe, "always." Most excellent. I do not think there is any thali to be had in Kyrgyzstan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe we can make a Madison version soon!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you seen the "Mustang Thali" at Taste of Tibet? Har de har har.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I haven't! Will totally have to try it...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not to brag but...when I lived in the eco-commune, we went out to a Pure Veg restaurant for Thali once or twice a weekend. All the local, seasonal, authentic grub you can eat, served on a banana leaf, for...get this...less than 50 cents^^

    ReplyDelete