Goa is known for its picturesque sunsets, unending beaches, electric nightlife and unlimited Feni– a local cashew or coconut based liquor. While all these are certainly embedded into the culture, the one thing that truly represents Goa is the quintessential Goan thaali. This platter of local delicacies is in-essence, Goa on a plate. The thaali is diverse, with a variety of seafood, meat and vegetarian options. Right from fried fishes and seafood curries to choices of spicy chicken, pork and mutton dishes, the inclusivity of the Goan thaali is much like the state, where people from various backgrounds and ethnicities come together to form a culturally diverse community.
The thaali represents, symbolically, the deep-rooted values of the locals that include an accepting, understated and content lifestyle. These are the qualities that attract people around the globe to this touristy paradise. Goa is a place where connection of the mind and intentions of the heart matter more than materialistic pleasures. The vessel of the Goan thaali, a sturdy steel plate, is an ode to that. The unassuming plate wins by leaps and bounds when in competition with fancy crockery, as it aligns with the local ethos of simplicity.
Most Goans steer away from the hustle that big cities promote and take towards a life that is simple and balanced. The style of eating the thaali embodies this ideology, where matters remain uncomplicated without the use of fancy knifes and forks and the food is enjoyed using just the hands. This traditional approach to eating is rooted in the idea of truly relishing a meal, without the pressure of proper dining etiquette or the need to rush an unfinished chore.
The understated appeal of the thaali is the freedom of choice it provides. A normal thaali meal comprises of no less than 6 different dishes on a single plate. This sounds welcoming to locals and outsiders alike, since the power of choice is in their hands. Each thaali is different, independent from the flavours of its counterparts. Its only goal is to serve a good meal to whoever chooses it, mirroring the cultural ideals of individuality that the Goan culture represents.
A good Goan thaali is nothing if not truly satiating. The plethora of dishes within this platter make sure there is something for everyone and even the pickiest eaters find nirvana at the end of each meal. Much like the diverse flora and fauna of Goa that help travellers and tourists find contentment at the end of each trip. The thaali too drives a similar parallel, by helping hungry individuals reach a satisfying peak at the end of each meal. Goa’s independent spirit, diversity and community values always lead us back and after all the gourmet meals and international delicacies, ultimately we find our way back to the humble Goan thaali.