Known to make 56 food items for their Gods, Gujaratis are known to leave no dhokla unturned when it comes to preserving and relishing tradition, and they love to feed people too. So we rounded up the very best of their famous unlimited thalis (that exist around the world actually) in Mumbai, and checked off all our favourite dishes and snacks at other eateries to create a compilation of food that has so much ghee in it, you’d need to Rann off to Kutch to burn all the calories. But even if you didn’t, it would all be worth it. Pro tip - if you’re going to visit one of the thali joints, you’d better learn how to make your ‘no more’ firm because these servers are trained to keep feeding you till you drop.
I. Thali at Shree Laxmi Gujarati Thali
It’s a little tough to find this 30-seater near Andheri West station as it is located inside a shopping centre, but once you reach the second floor, the smell of fried papad and steamed rice is surely going to fossilize you into their seats. The Unlimited Regular Thali includes four vegetable dishes, Chapatis, Mini Puris, buttermilk, salad, pickle, chutneys, Surti dal, two Farsan items, steamed rice and dahi kadhi. If that’s not enough, their Deluxe Thali includes puran poli, dahi vada, basmati rice and pulao.
Be very aware of the servers as they will find you and they will feed you. Too many times.
Cost: Call all your Kakas and Babas. Regular Thali at Rs 250 and Deluxe Thalis at 290. Prices increase on weekends. No Parking and they don’t accept cards.
II. Gujarati Thali at The Friends Union Joshi Club
The 100-year-old eatery, also known as ‘Khanaval’ by locals, has helped countless men who migrated to Mumbai to find work by giving them homely yet affordable food. It is still frequented by the regular shopkeepers and clients, giving the place a homely feel. And these matters are only helped by the seating that is closer to comfort than many would like.
The Gujarati Thali will not be heavy on your stomach. Four vegetables, Farsan, Rotis and a small Bhakri come with sweet Dal, Rice or Khichdi, chopped salad, chutney, pickle and a spicy buttermilk to get you salivating. Desserts won’t be sweet on your wallet as their satiating gulab jamuns, rasgullas, fruit custards and Aam Ras all cost a little extra.
Cost: Haalo from the other side at Rs 230 with sweets and at Rs 200 without sweets
III. Special Thali at B Bhagat Tarachand
Bhagat has managed to have devotees all around the city where money matters. This joint came from Karachi after the partition and is now celebrating 115 years of service. Just how the Chinese used soup to wash down the duck, Bhagat Tarachand offers a huge beer bottle filled with ‘Kutchi Chaas’ to wash down the Ghee, and that’s not the only thing that’s special about this. Not for the faintly diabetic, their thali has two types of subzis, served with dal tadka fry (finish your fried onions before someone steals them), a spicy-sweet dahi boondi, three Chapatis, one katori of rice, a glass of chaas and dessert (they have rotation on sweets so choose your day accordingly). You can also choose from the nine types of Papads because no one can eat just one when you have a Thali.
Cost: You can buy a scratch guard for this amount at Rs 220. If you want Pulao instead of rice it’s at Rs 230. The menu card also says that you can’t share your unlimited Thali.
IV. Gujarati Thali at Shree Thakker Bhojanalay
We will never be done with sweet and hot Kadhi and neither will Shree Thakker Bhojanalay. Don’t ever keep any of your belongings on the table unless you want them to taste the Kadhi as well. STB is still very fresh for all its nostalgic fans even though it began in 1945, it’s still everything that Gujju Thalis embody.
Starting with the chutneys and pickles, the crunchy Farsans or snacks followed by four to five vegetable preparations available on rotational basis, The Thali is accompanied by many types of breads (soft phulkas, jawar roti, bajra millet roti or the not-to-be-missed puran poli) along with plain rice or pulao.
Cost: The price of Gheelixir is at Rs. 500. Takeaway Thali at Rs 200
V. Gujarati Thali at Chetana
With A Gujarati, Rajastani, Maharastrian and a Health Thali, Chetana serves all this in regal cutlery.Their Thalis have three vegetables- Rajasthani dahi-gatta, the iconic Sangri of the desert land and Aloo Karela. Besides these, there are daal and Kadhi, salads, samosa, dhokla and aloo pakoda. Breads include Chapati, Bajre ki Roti and Baati. You can also order Maharashtrian and Punjabi vegetables if you want more variety. While they do serve the seasonal Aamras, Sundays are the best day to infuriate your dentist as there are even more options in sweets.
Cost: A huge round of Thaliyan at Rs 444 and Rs 419
VI. Thali at Maharaja Bhog
Another royal mention goes to Maharaja Bhog with its All-You-Can-Eat extensive menu. The decor is welcoming with folk songs playing on loop and comfort-heavy seating to complement their food. With more than 20 varieties to choose from, their Dal Dhokli is always mentioned under special items. Maharaja Bhog also has a mix of Gujarati and Rajasthani food with clearly different Dal and Kadhi. Apart from the number of vegetables and breads, they offer cabbage paneer paratha on their menu and the Thali comes with three types of chutney, buttermilk, salad, papad, pickle and a welcome drink. Do let us know if you were able to find your Thali below all the dishes.
Cost: Gotta eat it all at Rs 500 including tax. Takeaway box at Rs 170
VII. Thali at Toran
Toran can easily be mistaken for a south indian joint with it serving Dosas to its patrons but the servers dressed in their traditional attire of Dhoti Kurta give it away. Their Thali although has unlimited portion, it has limited but hearty options. They begin their rounds with Dhokla, Samosas or Patras and follow it with Gujarati and Rajasthani vegetables. Most people go ga-ga over their gooey Khichdi that comes with ladles, pots and pans of ghee. Their unlimited Thali gives limited sweets so there is no point in begging for more gulab jamuns (You won’t get even a single one extra.) You can end the fare right there or have some Daal Baati and Chaas before heading out.
Cost: Lots for as little as at Rs 225 and at Rs 250 on weekends and holidays.
VIII. Vegetarian Thali at Golden Star Thali
Golden Star Thali has been reviewed not just by city news outlets but also by the New York Times, according the restaurant’s website. Frequented by regulars as well as expats, Golden Star also boasts of having catered to Hollywood celebrity Ashley Judd. Servers might even give you their headgear to wear while they insist you fill up your plate each time they pass you. Their bold flavours bring together the wonders of Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisine. Their Thali offers three types of snack items, four vegetable dishes, Gujarati and Rajasthani Dal, Kadhi, Curd, four types of bread, rice, pulao, khichdi and we could go on and on because they have 32 varieties in total. Don’t forget that servers will come to refill all of these items.
Cost: It is a catch 32 situation at Rs 800 for two. Takeaway lunchbox at Rs 170
IX. Thali at Rajdhani
The mother of all Thalis comes from the Rajdhani group of hotels, with 72 different rotating menus and 22,464 delicacies from Gujarat and Rajasthan. Their menu has dishes like Matar Khasta Rolls, Apple Jalebis, Walnut Halwa, Sangri Ke Kofte, Khajur Barfi and more. Also known as Khandani Rajdhani all over the country, A single Thali will serve 32 options. Most of their branches welcome the guest by applying Sandalwood on foreheads and bowls to wash hands. Be prepared to skip the previous days dinner and the days breakfast if you plan on having lunch here because they expect you to be very hungry. Begin with the smoked Chaas if available as it gets its flavoured because of the coal that surrounds it. Do relish their Ghugra Dhokla (Fried Pastry) and Rasiya Dhokla (Dhokla with Three Chutneys).
Cost: Will make Jon Snow come alive at Rs 480 and at Rs 250 on Tuesdays
Part 2 - Dishes
X. Undhiyu at ShreeThakker Bhojanalay
You know winter is coming when Undhiyu strikes your nearby Gujarati place. We know it’s many, many months away, but there’s no harm in being prepared. It takes an entire day-and-a-half to cook this dish, owing to the long process involving cleaning, cutting and cooking more than 12 vegetable for over four hours, that too upside down. Available only in winters due to the seasonal vegetables, be sure to queue up outside Shree Thakker Bhojanalaya when December comes around. Couple it with rice or kadhi and you will be warm for the rest of the cold season.
Cost: There’s still time to save up till winter comes around
XI. Amiri Khaman at Saurashtra Farsan Mart
Amiri khaman is a rich version of Dhokla where they are crumbled and tempered with mustard seeds and garnished with sesame seeds, pomegranate, sev, coconut and coriander. Saurashtra Farsan Mart balances those flavours perfectly, so stop by for a taste next time you’re in Dadar west. Many joints tend to overdo the sweetness of the khaman and chutney but not the bhaus at Saurashtra.
Cost: Crumble in the Bronx at Rs 200
XII. Panki Chutney and Fada ni Khichdhi at Swati Snacks
Swati snacks is famous for its signature dish The Panki Chutney. We have heard many tales about its authenticity the queue that lasts till Bhatia Hospital in Tardeo. Once you do get over the insanity of the long line in front you, order the novel moong dal pancake that comes thinly pressed among layers of Banana leaves. It is sugar, spice and everything nice once you mix it with the green chutney and greener fried chillies. The other thing you should just grab and run is Fada ni Khichdi. This is not your typical homely Khichdi that you equate with illness. Fada Ni Khichdi is what makes people come alive with its broken wheat and moong dal batter had with yogurt that has been infused with red chillies and onions. It can be eaten at any time of the day and you won’t get complaints for eating breakfast at dinner. If this doesnt kick the butt of your summer cold, nothing will.
Cost: Makes dramas at Gujarati theatres look weak at Rs 175 at Rs 240 respectively
XIII. Farsan Platter at Soam
Replace every finger food in your house that adorns the table at IPL match parties with this Farsan platter, and you’ll never go back to any other snack. With samosas filled with spinach and cheese, Makai wadi, Ghugra and Dhokla, all you need is a glass of chilled chaas from Soam to get a six out of Wankhede stadium. They also have low calorie options that serve Naachni wraps and more, and don’t forget to pack some chutney for later.
Cost: You can have it every Soam, Mangal and Buddh at Rs 220. Chutney at Rs 200 for 250 gms
XIIV. Khandvi and Dhokla at Gaurav Sweets and Namkeen
If you wish to have a taste of Gujarat at street prices, Gaurav is what you’re looking for. Serving hygienic snacks and sweets, this typical mithai shop is constantly flooded with patrons buying box-fulls of their treats. The thinly rolled out Khandvis are a steal alongside the fluffy spongy dhoklas that feel like soft pillows on your tongue.
Cost: No Goliyon ki Raas Leela here at Rs 20 and at Rs 40 respectively
XV. Dhoklas at Rajubhai Dhoklawala
You can choose from eight Dhoklas and two Khamas at this sweet shop when Kandivali station gets on your nerves. Their Nylon Khaman melts in your mouth, and the sandwich dhokla is a serious guilty pleasure. It’s easy to miss this small eatery, since the sign board is in Gujarati and it has no dining area, but once you find it, it’s completely worth it.
XVI. Handvo and Kadhi Samosa at Tosa
This place has a good reputation among its clientele since it’s run by the go-to caterer of community weddings, the Tripti caterers. The Handvo is a must-try, made by grating bottle gourd and shallow frying it like a pancake. The Kadhi Samosa is served with a thick Marwadi yogurt-based kadhi, and no one makes it quite like Tosa.
Cost: Similar to getting lost in the galaxy in Lord Krishnas mouth at Rs 140 and Rs 165 respectively
Research: Meharunnisa Moula Sahib & Raj Rege