All lovers of Indian food are well aware that there is no such thing as generic Indian.

Thali, excellently well-positioned at 166 Old Brompton Road in South Kensington, London, serves North Indian cuisine accompanied by faultless service.


We arrived to find it fully packed and were welcomed by a smiling and eminently obliging owner/manager.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a rose Rioja on the menu as this robust yet refreshing wine compliments Asian food particularly well.

My 3 companions and I ordered all to share and to sweeten the wait, we were offered the Palak Chaat appetiser. The firm spinach nuggets smothered in yoghurt and mixed chutneys were as delicious as they were unusual – we were to discover at the end of the meal that the spinach is air-dried which doubtless contributes to its mouth-watering tangy crispiness.


Thali means, in fact, a steel platter full of taster size bowls containing different dishes.

We ordered both the seafood Thali and the vegetarian Thali

Seafood Thali

This included such delectable dishes as prawn balchao, cod curry, Madras fish curry and prawn paithya, robustly spiced in the best Indian tradition. London seafood quality is always a bit of a pot luck, but Thali’s is definitely in the high end spectrum, with the real beauty of the dishes in the variety and richness of flavours. Obviously made on the night, but marinated for a good long time, each dish was exquisitely seasoned and perfectly balanced.

Vegetarian Thali

The vegetarian Thali did not disappoint: it contained some of my favourites, such as dark lentil dal that was to die for, okra with onions, tomatoes and spices (a dish that we ordered separately also because we can never get enough of it), spicy potato chunks, Rajta (natural yoghurt with tomatoes and cucumber), creamed spinach and Indian cheese and the dessert dish, Gulab Jamun, a milk  dough dumpling, served hot in sweet syrup.


The Venison Bhkhara Kebab is, in fact, smoked venison meatballs, flavoured with saffron, ginger and garlic.  Thali has a good selection of game dishes and if the rest are as good as the venison ‘kebab’, all are worth trying.

The undisputed winner among dishes, however, was the Chukander Gosht, baby lamb stew with a beetroot sauce and spices. The secret of the dish, I was told later, is the 14 hour marinade. If you haven’t tried this, make a special trip to Thali just for it even if you are not into Indian food – you won’t regret it!

Bhindi Do Piyaza is a very traditional Indian dish on most restaurants’ menu, but not all okra stews are made the same. Cooked to mouth-watering perfection, the okra partnered the fresh tomatoes, onions and cumin beautifully.


Our second Dal for the evening was a yellow lentil one, Tarka Dal, cooked with browned garlic and chillies, but not too hot on the palate, and of course cumin.

The above was accompanied by Keema Naan, leavened bread filled with mince meat and naan for those of us who could spare the room.

I would not wish to end this review without saying that even great restaurants need a good vibe – the intangible atmosphere – and Thali had that in spades, partly because of the extremely well-trained staff and partly because it draws a very nice crowd. If you get an outside table on a balmy evening, your cup ‘will runneth over’.

Address: 166 Old Brompton Rd, Kensington, London SW5 0BA

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