All over India, you will find superb local restaurants serving thali, a platter of dishes that showcase the best cuisine in the region.
And now Ziya, the award-winning Indian restaurant on Manchester’s legendary curry mile, has brought the concept to our great city.
But rather than sticking to just one area, the Ziya India Festival shines a light on the incredible food created in almost every region of this great South Asian nation.
Billed as a “joyful celebration of Indian regional thalis”, for one week of every month throughout 2022, you can enjoy a beautifully prepared thali inspired by a specific region of India, such as Kashmir, Bengal or Goa .
Few, if any, restaurants in the city have the wealth of culinary talent to attempt something on this scale, but since opening in 2014, Ziya has led the way in terms of exciting and cutting-edge Indian cuisine.
You don’t need to take our word for it. Ziya has won numerous awards over the years, including the prestigious award for Best Indian Restaurant in Manchester at the Asian Curry Awards.
We took a trip to Rusholme to experience March thali, which is based on Gujarat cuisine in western India. That means a vegetarian platter, which includes a host of sweet and savory flavors, for just £16.99.
On a metal tray filled with dishes, there are four bowls of flavor-rich curries, including undhyiu (a finer mix of fresh vegetables in a dark sauce) and vaghareli khichdi, a deeply satisfying combination of dhal and rice, in a hearty broth.
There is also a creamy kadi, a rich yogurt-based sauce and a dry spicy potato curry strongly flavored with curry leaves, known as batata nu shaak and hugely popular throughout Gujarat.
They both work wonders with the two big freshly baked puris – just scoop them up with the hot bread and enjoy!
There are two sweet options, aamras, a potent mango dish, and srikhand, a rich concoction of yogurt, nuts and saffron.
For an authentic Gujarati experience you will never forget, sit down, close your eyes and combine these sweet dishes with some of the savory flavors at the same time.
And, of course, there are a few papadums with a few dips, including an unforgettable and very potent lime pickle, as well as two delicious kachori snacks, a dhal, a 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 levels, from gloriously sweet to satisfyingly salty.
If you’re looking to expand both your mind and your palate, Ziya’s thali experiences are a must-visit option, affordably priced at one of Rusholme’s top restaurants.
These are available from 12pm to 10pm, just one week per month, giving you the perfect opportunity to return each time to discover a new part of India.
This Gujarati menu runs until March 27, while next month’s thali is inspired by the Punjab region and is available from April 17-24.