It is customary to eat with one’s hands in India, to use naan (flatbread) to scoop up curries and bite-sized pieces of paneer (homemade cheese), meat, or vegetable, or to dip into daal (a thick lentil soup made from green, red, or yellow lentils).
So I do this while eating with a fellow foodie who had lived in Mumbai. But surprisingly, she wasn’t familiar with thali, the plated conglomeration of a selection of dishes. (I don’t think she ate like a local. And she admitted that she only stuck to certain foods while she lived there. When I travel to India, I’m going for the immersive experience.)
For the thali, Junoon had it broken down into vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. We ordered one of each. Both thalis came with rice, daal (yellow lentil soup), raita (a yogurt-based dilled chutney), roti (a thin, crepe-like flatbread, except ours was more similar in texture to naan, the thicker, pita-esque flatbread).
The meat thali came with kerala shrimp curry (seared shrimp in a coconut milk curry with mustard seeds, green chiles, and smoked kodampuli) , murg lababdar (chicken tikka in a tomato, onion, fenugreek, and ginger sauce), and lamb kolhapuri (lamb simmered in a spicy red chili, toasted coconut, star anise, and white poppy seed curry).
The vegetarian thali had saag aur gobi kebhurji (cauliflowers florets sauteed with spinach, roasted cumin, chopped tomato, and fenugreek), channa pindi (stewed chickpeas with onion, ginger, garam masala, coriander, and cumin), paneer aur mirchi kasalan (spiced paneer with long hot green peppers in a peanut tamarind sauce, a native Pakastani dish).
The smooth combination of these ingredients for each individual dish created a balanced flavor — no element overpowered the other, unless you bit into one of the long peppers in the Pakistani curry (yowsers!). To soothe your blistered palate, couple the bites with rice or roti or mollify your tongue by bathing it with raita in between bites.