October 2022 COTM: THALI by Maunika Gowardhan + the author's website

Welcome to the reporting thread for THALI and Maunika Gowardhan’s online recipes.


If you are the first to report on a recipe, post your report as a reply to this topic. The first poster of a recipe typically types the recipe title in all caps and indicates the page number (if using the physical book). If you are reporting on a recipe from the author’s site, please include the link. If someone has already reported on a recipe, post your report as a reply to their post.

Pictures are always welcome and encouraged, but by no means mandatory. Our of respect for the author’s intellectual property, please to not post recipes verbatim. A summary of the ingredients and technique is allowed and quite helpful if you are cooking from the book .

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and voting threads. Our archive has a list of all our previous books.


Woot! I got a bit of a (tasty) head start this week. Will write them up soon.

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Spiced Egg Curry With Fennel and Chilli

I made this for brunch this morning to combat the gray, rainy weather we’ve got going on as the impact of the hurricane much further south begins to creep into our own weather system. This is nicely spiced, but not hot. You begin by toasting whole chiles and curry leaves. Since mine are dried, I put all of them in up front, rather than saving any to add at the end. Then you slowly cook onion and build the tomato sauce from there. The Web version of the recipe calls for one teaspoon less of the ground fennel and 150ml less water. We had this, at BF’s request, with poached eggs rather than boiled and over toasted English muffins. I didn’t have the energy to also make paratha, but hope to the next time I make this. This recipe is a win!



I scrolled back through some of the WFD threads to find recipes from this book I have made already. I can’t recommend this stir fried paneer dish enough! The kadhai masala used to flavor the dish is a blend of Kashmiri chiles, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, whole black peppercorns, and green cardamom pods. Just beautiful, warming flavors. After you take the time to toast and grind the spices, the rest of the dish comes together very quickly, which is great on a weeknight. Don’t skip the kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves) and ginger matchsticks added at the end of cooking!


GOAN FISH AMBOTIK (Hot and Sour Fish Curry) p. 126


I got this book in May (pre-ordered on Amazon and waited after its release in the US was pushed back several times). I finally began to cook out of it in early June. Apparently I made both of these recipes on the same night. The hot and sour fish curry is not overly hot. I did use the 10 dried kashmiri chiles called for. I suppose you could cut back and add a few spoonfuls of paprika if you were concerned. The sourness comes from tamarind, but there is also malt vinegar in the chili paste you make with those 10 chiles, some cariander seeds, cloves, garlic, and ginger. For my fish, I used boneless cod fillets from my freezer, although she does call for sea bream or haddock steaks (center bone left intact). If you go boneless, you probably won’t need to cook it the full 7 minutes. Just keep an eye on it and cut the heat under the pan when the fish just begins to flake. The leftovers, carefully reheated, were even better the next day!

The fried rice is a great way to use up leftover rice. I just used frozen peas (and some zucchini and bell pepper), instead of the “mixed frozen vegetables”. With the flavors of cinnamon, black cardamom, turmeric and ginger, I found the finished rice to be somewhere between a fried rice and a pulao. Definitely a side dish to try out if you have this book!


We had a lovely Fish Ambotik at a HO group dinner in NYC and I’m hoping this will come close!

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Looking forward to hearing what you think of it!


This is one of my favorite teatime snacks. Lots of chopped cilantro held together by gram flour, twice cooked — steamed and then fried. Like a herbaceous panisse (and maybe this is why I love panisse so much).

I was intrigued by her version because it’s made differently than the way I usually make these, but exactly as another category of dishes (Muthia / Gatta) would be.

Chopped cilantro is mixed with gram flour and some spices, then oil and water are added to knead to a dough. The dough is steamed until cooked, cooled, sliced, and then pan-fried. (My usual way to make this is to mix a thick batter, steam as a cake, then cut up and pan-fry – similar to panisse).

This version was nice, but a drier texture than the dish I usually make (gram flour alone will do that too). I ate some as a snack, and some as a component of dinner.

I made a second round using the method from Pangat, soaking and grinding dry dal. Also tasty, but a totally different flavor and texture.



I’m always looking for a new way with cauliflower, and this packs a punch for what doesn’t read as much.

It’s a simple prep, made special by just a few flavors - fresh ginger, curry leaves, and black pepper. There’s also green chilli, but as a base note.

Really delicious, and quick too — I will be making this again, soon! (Pic of the dish, and in the spirit of the book, one of my thali.)



Vegetable curry with tamarind, curry leaves and green chillies

I wanted to use up the last of the season’s okra, and this looks like a takeout dish I have enjoyed over the years that I hoped to replicate. I did not quite capture it, but it’s well worth making. While the okra and potatoes precook separately, you fry asofoetida, cumin and fenugreek seed, curry leaves, and ginger. Add a chile or two (calls for two, I used one), then chickpea flour and chile powder (skipped that and tossed in a dried red chile). After you toast the flour, add water and stir to remove lumps. Next you add sugar and tamarind. This is the part I did not get right, as she says, all tamarinds are different. Mine was too tangy and I had to add extra sugar. Mine also got too thick, but you can just add water.
Garnish with coriander and extra curry leaves.
Photo is hideous, I’ll spare you, but this is one I’d like to revisit and continue trying to get just right–soupy, a tad sour.



Lentils with spices, chilli and coriander

It’s funny how you can make something all the time but never master it. I think of dal as a healthy protein to round out a meal, not something I crave, but this one turned out fantastic.
It’s got all the usual suspects: turmeric, asafoetida, garlic, cumin, curry leaves, chilies, then you add a pinch of sugar, tomatoes, lemon juice, and coriander at the end. I guess it pays to never stop trying new recipes!
Served with the okra-potato curry and naan.


There ain’t a lot of pretty Indian food :rofl:


Glad this was a winner!

I’m always looking for a “good” dal recipe because I don’t like my dal about 3/4 of the time (bar is high though, my mom’s “everyday” versions are always good and seemingly without any fuss, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.)

This was interesting to read, because it illustrated one of the many ways Indian food pairings aren’t well-explained. Kadhi (whether Gujarati, made with yogurt and gram flour, or Sindhi, made with just gram flour) is served instead of dal as the wet dish on the plate. Sindhi kadhi especially is considered a 1-dish meal (over rice) because it incorporates both vegetables and protein in a single dish.

(I guess one exception to instead-of dal is that with Gujarati kadhi sometimes a dry-cooked dal or other bean like moth/moong is served on the side, as an extra side.)


I always read through and bookmark things and the forget what I had liked, so here is my list from Thali:

And from her website:


If I had just grabbed a snap the first day when the okra was still green, the curry leaf branch floating on top…but on day 2, nuh-uh!

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Do you mean just the couple tablespoons of chickpea flour would make that considered a protein? I had not thought of it that way. When I make Indian I always want a wide variety–making my kitchen a disaster but fun.
I am interested in this, more from the aspect of knowing the traditions, but then I do eat however I wanna eat (I’ve got some peculiarities about food combining–not as big an eater of rice and beans together, and I like my dal less soupy than is likely traditional). Indian can be overwhelming already, just because of the sheer number of spices and the regional diversity that I am only beginning to scratch the surface of. But I do like learning–for example with a different cuisine but similar concept: For years I made couscous to go with my vegetarian tagines because that is how I was served it at a restaurant, then I finally learned tagines would typically be served with bread (probably more important with meat stews, but we’ll ignore that part). It sounds so boring but that was mind blowing to me, and now I prefer making the bread and eating it the traditional way.
It is something I have obsessed over with Italian food but just getting into with Indian. I delved a little into chile varieties this time. The recipe called for a Kashmiri chile, which I did not have, but I enjoyed picking out something smoky that I thought would complement the dish. I’m loving Diaspora, where I can see different chiles other than the Sanaam, which was previously the only Indian variety I had even seen names.
Anyway, your comment got me thinking!

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This is a simple dal, with spinach added towards the end. It makes a 1-dish meal, or a nice accompaniment for fish or meat (so an additional vegetable is not necessary).

I made a few minor changes:

  • Tuver dal (split pigeon peas) instead of yellow moong dal, because I’m trying to use it up.
  • Frozen spinach (sauteer separately with garlic)
  • More spinach proportionally, as well as garlic
  • Simmered for longer than she calls for (which tends to help all dal significantly in my experience)

Lovely with both chapatis and rice, and a nice foil for the tangy Fish Ambotik I ate as part of the same meal.




(There’s a Prawn Ambotik recipe on her website, but quantities are different. I’d be glad to give book proportions if someone wants them.)

I had only eaten a Konkani version of Ambotik, but I encountered the Goan version at a Goan HO Group Dinner a few months ago and loved it because it reminded me so much of Balchao, which I adore.

The sauce on this prep is tangy in the best way. Sweet mostly from onions, with some sugar added to balance, sour from tomatoes and tamarind.

It’s a simple dish – make a spice paste, sauté onions, add ginger-garlic paste, pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, and the spice paste, and let it all come together. Add the fish and let it simmer enough to cook.

My changes:

  • Doubled the garlic
  • Pureed ginger, garlic, and tomatoes together
  • Didn’t make the spice paste – used harissa and added powdered spices and more chilli powder to taste (as I often do for this kind of dish)
  • Jaggery instead of sugar
  • Tamarind powder instead of paste, added a little at a time
  • Simmered the sauce for about 20 mins (till the oil separated and flavors completely melded) before adding the fish

This was delicious, and close in flavor to what we ate at the Goan place (but I used a lot less oil than the chef there, haha). Good with chapatis, and lovely with rice.

Next time I would marinate the fish in some of the spice paste. This benefits from a sturdy or fatty fish - in Goa it’s often shark, in Mumbai mackerel, at the restaurant it was monkfish – I used salmon.

(Circling back to the other version of Ambotik I mentioned – it was pretty different, no or little tomato, not sweet, fenugreek gave it a backnote, and the sour likely came from kokum rather than tamarind if I was guessing. It was also delicious, just different. )