Endearing Journey of the Indian Thali

In Indian cuisine, food is often served in an arrangement called a Thali. The business of Thali hasn't faded in the rush of other lucrative options like speciality restaurants and fast food joints, it is still an alluring opportunity
Thali Business, Restaurant

A Thali refers to an arrangement of food in a round plate (with bowls) or a tray with multiple compartments that has all the food groups in just the right proportions .The concept of a balanced diet has gained popularity in recent years. It is an old custom and different regions of India have their own special dishes that form part of a Thali. Despite the growing demand for junk and international food, certain local cuisines, served Thali-style, will be in demand forever as they are made fresh everyday and are basically home food.

Priced to suit every wallet

Rajdhani of Mirah Group, serves Rajasthani and Gujarati food. The chain has differential pricing across its restaurants and pre-decided daily menus are issued from headquarters to maintain quality. Deals with suppliers are struck much ahead to stay ahead of price swings. At Chennai's Express Avenue mall, for instance, the Thali is priced at Rs 325 (that included taxes) but in Ampa Mall in the same city, it is now priced at Rs 199 although the price increase has not affected the footfall.

Prashant Caterers of Mumbai serves Gujarati Thalis through Status and Samrat in the price range of 240 and 280.

Mall as an accelerator

It is a known fact that food courts do well in malls and taking advantage of the same, Mirah Group had opened its chain of restaurants called Rajdhani. “Rajdhani is mostly present in malls, and franchises form only 2 per cent of its business”, an official informed. The chain is a part of the Mirah group's Rs 160-crore hospitality division which owns the Citrus chain of four-star hotels; Falafel, a brand of eateries serving Lebanese cuisine; Café Mangii (Italian), Mad Over Donuts, and also is the India franchisee for the Man U café bars (but not in Bangalore). The chain's annualised turnover was Rs 75 crore for the year ended 2011, and is likely to touch Rs 125 crore for year ending 2012, he further shared. So far, the focus has been on Rajdhani.  

A complete meal

Mr  Rajnish Shah of Prashant Caterers, Mumbai, easily boasts of his one- of- a- kind Thali business, "It is unique in the sense that the customers get unlimited servings at that price. Indians and foreigners alike come from far of places to enjoy a delicious and sumptuous meal with portions of cooked Vegetables, Dal, Curry, Rice, Pulav, Khichdi, Pickles, Papad, Sweet, Puri, Chapati, Chaas, Farsan and still counting. No wonder, the busy working people surrounding the area finds no better substitution to Status and Samrat". According to him, “The business hasn’t changed a bit since the advent of fast food joints and a subsequent change in the preferences of people. He says, whatever happens, Thali will never go out of fashion and always be liked by people who would want to try a vast variety of homely food”.

The Indian Railways did their bit in popularising the Thali concept as all meals served in the trains’ dining car are still served in trays with multiple compartments with all the food groups in balanced proportions.

Most popular Thalis in India are the Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Rajasthani, north Indian and the south Indian.  A couple of items are common to all of them and some dishes are different. In other words, a Thali is a balanced meal to satisfy your hunger and to keep you healthy.

Mr. Kamlesh Barot, Director, VIE Hospitality Group of the famed Revival Indian Thali shared, “Indian food has traditionally been slow-food, unlike what the West has only recently started, the slow-food movement. Thali's set menus have always been served faster than any fast food, as the order itself need not be placed or collected, standing in queues. Junk foods with all the trans fats and preservation salts coupled with high sugar intakes from the soda fountains had been a preferred mode, but not anymore”.

As the trend resumes in the country, after a periodical lull, one sees the opportunity at optimum in this sector, which one can easily utilise.



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