A thali plate is the staple method of meal at any Nepalese restaurant. Here is the thali plate from one of my favorite places to eat, Tawa Foods (3738 72nd St, Jackson Heights, Queens).
Seen here is a bowl of daal (lentils), saag (mustard greens), seemi bean (string beans), tomato achar (pickled tomato), fried kerela (bitter gourd), and chamal (rice).
The fried kerela is surprisingly great. Everywhere else I’ve had it, prepared stewed or sauteed, the bitterness was too intense for my American palate. Even once at the back end of where Norling Kitchen currently is, years ago, I spied a Nepalese man’s plate and he warned me that I wouldn’t like it. I didn’t. But I do now. Especially with the fried seeds mixed in with the melon-ness. It tastes like gourd chips.
The vegetable items on a thali are usually refillable at Nepalese restaurants if you ask nicely enough.
There’s a lot to Tawa, despite its small size and makeshift decor. Bring a date, it’s a great test.