Getting to know Maunika Gowardhan, chef and author of “Thali”

One of the most delightful gifts of Indian food to the world appears in a thali. A thali is a traditional arrangement of delicacies served on a platter, found in almost every region of India. From north to south, east to west, each region varies tremendously, right from the shape of the plate to the manner in which dishes are arranged. In Rajasthan, food is served literally on an enormous round platter, while in Kerala, a sadhya is arranged on a banana leaf. To understand India’s diversity, U.K.-based chef and writer Maunika Gowardhan says, look no further than a thali. The more you talk to Gowardhan about Indian food, the more you realize how little you know about India’s kaleidoscopic diversity. She has been in food for almost two decades and cooked alongside the likes of Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal. Hundreds of thousands of people read and attempt her recipes: South Asians trying to replicate the food of home and non-South Asians who want a taste of authentic Indian food in their kitchens. Having visited the subcontinent “at least 15 times in the past five years,” she lives her life in a revelry of Indian flavors. Few are more qualified to write the book on it. And she has. “Thali,” an exploration of dishes served on platters across India, is a labor of love created in homage to the diversity in India’s regional cuisine and a taste of home. SEEMA sat down with Maunika Gowardhan to learn more.
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