Contrary to the urban myth that Indian restaurants can only serve ubiquitous, one-dimensional meals consisting of over-spiced curries, we believe an Indian restaurant can be a showcase for many styles of cooking and a melting pot for myriad cuisines of the vast Indian sub-continent. Thali in New Haven was created to be just such a showcase. India is a giant country with diverse peoples heir to wildly varying styles of cooking and dramatic differences in food preference. The cuisine of each Indian state is distinct and unique. Tandoor-cooked meats, seafood with coconut, spices and vegetables from the high mountain country, exotic cuisines from Handi, Kadhai, Tawa, Dum Pukht, Goa and Parsee on the West Coast, Punjab in the North, Rajasthan, South India, and the cuisine of my own home, Hyderabad.The differences between the various states can be profound and much more pronounced than in any other part of the world. Indian coastal kitchens make strong use of seafood and coconut. The use of tamarind for sourness distinguishes Tamil and South Indian food. Andhra cooking is accused, sometimes unfairly, of using too many chilies, and indeed a little sauce from an Andrha kitchen goes a long way. Rice is a diet staple in the South, but in the Northern Plains, an endless variety of flours has led to the development of many complex breads; Chapathis, Paratha, Nan, Poorie and many, many others which remain unknown in the United States.
Like much of the rest of the world, the culinary revolution is in full swing in India and Great Britain and the food of India is going through a remarkable and rapid evolution. Old recipes are often used as a base, but with new twists, ingredients and spices transforming the classics into dramatic new creations. Many of the dishes at Thali; Andhra Chicken Curry, Ghosht Banjara, Royala Kora and Bagare Baigan come from my mother's own kitchen and she has watched, sometimes in horror but usually in amused approval, as I've struggled to bring each of them into the 21st Century. Our mission at Thali in New Haven is demonstrate the magical power of these new creations, the products of traditional ideas enlivened with non-traditional twists and unexpected surprises.
I welcome those of you who are new
to Indian cooking as well as experts
and critics of Indian cuisine. Join
us in the brave new world of modern
Indian regional cuisine. We will be
offering cooking classes, chef's
dinners and many special events to
make this cuisine an exciting part
of your life in New Haven.