All across India, you’ll find superb local restaurants serving thali – a platter of dishes that showcase the very best cuisine of the region.
And now, Ziya, the award-winning Indian restaurant on Manchester’s legendary curry mile, has brought this concept to our great city.
But rather than stick to just one area, Ziya’s year-long Festival of India highlights the incredible food created in almost every part of this great South Asian nation.
Billed as a ‘joyful celebration of Indian regional thalis’, for one week out of every month throughout 2022, you can enjoy a beautifully-prepared thali inspired by a specific area of India, such as Kashmir, Bengal or Goa.
Not many restaurants in the city, if any, have the wealth of talent in the kitchen to attempt something on this scale, but since opening back in 2014, Ziya has led the way in terms of exciting, forward-thinking Indian cuisine.
You don’t need to take our word for it. Ziya has won multiple awards over the years, including the high-profile Best Indian Restaurant in Manchester accolade at the Asian Curry Awards.
We took a trip out to Rusholme to check out the March thali, based on cuisine from Gujarat in western India. This means a tray of vegetarian-friendly dishes, which takes in a host of sweet and savoury flavours, for just £16.99.
On a metal tray packed with dishes, there are four bowls of richly-flavoured curries, including undhyiu (a moreish mixture of fresh vegetables in a dark sauce) and vaghareli khichdi, a deeply satisfying combination of dhal and rice, in a hearty stock.
There’s also a creamy kadi, a rich yoghurt-based sauce, and a dry spicy potato curry heavily flavoured with curry leaves, known as batata nu shaak and hugely popular across Gujarat.
They both work wonders with the two large, freshly-cooked puris – just scoop it up with the hot bread and enjoy!
There are two sweet options, aamras, a powerful mango-based dish, and srikhand, a rich concoction of yoghurt, nuts and saffron.
For an authentic Gujarati experience you’ll never forget, sit back, close your eyes and combine these sweet dishes with some of the savoury flavours at the same time.
And, of course, there are some papadums with a couple of dips, including an unforgettable and very potent lime pickle, plus two delicious kachori snacks, one dhal, one pea, both with a wealth of complex spices.
Each element of the thali works in sync with the rest, offering a range of textures and spice level, going from gloriously sweet to satisfyingly savoury.
If you’re looking to expand both your mind and palate, Ziya’s thali experiences are an unmissable option, at a pocket-friendly price in one of Rusholme’s very best restaurants.
These are available from 12pm to 10pm, for just one week out of every month, giving you the perfect opportunity to go back each time to learn about a new part of India.
This Gujarati menu runs up to March 27th, while next month’s thali is inspired by the Punjab region and is available from 17th – 24th April.