Rajdhani Thali – the Mumbai-based chain of Thali hotels has recently opened its branch in Hyderabad and I had a chance to visit it yesterday. I generally prefer wholesome thalis even though I’m pretty finicky about not eating some of the items (Curd and raithas for instance) and the North Indian is my usual choice.Having never partaken of a Gujarati Thali before, I was looking forward to enjoy it at Rajdhani Thali.
The hotel is located on the fourth floor of the Big Bazaar mall on the Ameerpet main road and was half-full on a chilly Friday night. I realised later that all of them were Gujjus! The Ambience of the hotel is pretty good, with the entrance containing various banners proclaiming Rajdhani’s pedigree and popularity in Mumbai and also a nifty counter announcing the number of thalis they have served till date! AFAIR, the number was somewhere in the 5-lakh range!!! The seating is minimal, with plain wooden chairs and tables – somewhat wobbly though! As I sat down, I was kinda surprised at the size of the thali on the table. They actually put the empty thali and bowls on the table and fill-in the items later. There were 10 bowls that would translate into 10 items and two steel glasses – one for water and the other, as I was to know in a short while, was for Lassi (ugh!). Now, Rajdhani Thali’s menu is as varied as Gujarati food and they have a different menu for each day. Catch up with their entire menu here. On that particular night, the items were: Green Salad, Bhajiya, Khaman, Batti with Jaggery and Ghee, Dhokhla, Masala Potli (kind of a Kachori), Phulkas, Rajgiri Theplas, Sweet Kadi, Dal, Gobi ki sabzi, Chana sabzi (almost 5 kinds of chanas), some other curry which had brown round-shaped manchurian balls, Papads, Imli ki Chutney and Kesari Petha. There were also Kadi Pakoda, Khichdi, Curd rice and Lassi that I didn’t partake of. Phew! that seems quite a lot, doesn’t it? All the items are unlimited i.e. one can have as much as one wants. Only the desserts are limited – only one to choose from four choices. The food was piping hot and straight from the kitchen, rotis and curries were fresh and so were the salads and accompaniments. Not everyone likes Gujarati food, especially an all-vegetarian fare but one can surely enjoy the sheer variety that it offers and also the typical names that its cuisine holds out….thepla, dhokla, baati, khaman….grrovyyyy!!!!
The service was very efficient and most exciting to watch. As i said before, the empty thali is laid out first and the items are served one-by-one. These items are carried around by a bunch of waiters and they don’t shout out to call one another. Instead, they gesticulate and use hand-signals to call out the items that the customer needs. And they have a unique signal for each item – thumbs-up for water, round-hand-rolling for rotis, fist for rice and so on. Imaginative, I must say! Another thing that is nice but not that imaginative is the daily-menu which is written down on a slate…something that Urban Tadka is known to be using. Something else that maybe called as influenced is the fact that they have a thali-shaped drum at the exit that one is supposed to beat upon if they like food and whose ringing is met by peals of thank-yous-in-gujarati from the staff! Pizza Hut effect, I must say. One thing that stuck me as downright odd is the lack of a proper washroom! A waiter will bring along a bowl into which the customer is supposed to wash the hands as the waiter pours out lukewarm water from a tureen! Quite demeaning I should say.
Apart from that minor oddity, the place is as good as it gets for authentic Gujarati Thali food. I hear that the menu on Saturday and Sunday is more extensive than on weekdays so it would be a good idea to visit the place on the weekends. The thali is priced at INR 125 which may sound high, given the lack of non-vegetarian fare and the fact that eat-as-much-as-you-can-buffets are so prevalent nowadays in Hyderabad for as low as 99 bucks. But if the palate craves for some sumptuous Gujju fare, served with promptness and care and one that includes almost everything that the cuisine has to offer, do head out to Rajdhani Thali and enjoy the fare.
Place: Rajdhani Thali
Location: 4th Floor, Big Bazaar Mall, Ameerpet Main Road, Hyderabad
Speciality: Gujarati Thali – Unlimited food (except for desserts)
Price: Rs. 125 per thali + taxes (Sunday Thalis are priced higher)