'Bahubali Thali': Is this UAE's biggest meal on a platter?

Dubai - We hit the streets of Al Qusais in Dubai in search of the UAE’s biggest thali or meal on a platter. So did it live up to the hype?



Photo/Rahul Gajjar
Photo/Rahul Gajjar
by

Abhishek Sengupta

Published: Wed 24 Feb 2021, 8:53 AM

Last updated: Wed 24 Feb 2021, 9:02 AM

You could be eating your breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper but at Ponnusamy restaurant in Al Qusais, all you will need for a day’s fill is just one square meal. And it comes on a giant round platter that holds more than a king’s portion.

Weighing about three and a half kilos (by conservative estimates), carried along by two men and heaving with over 50 items, this Dh135 all-inclusive Bahubali Thali is truly designed to pique the palate of a strongman (as the name suggests) worth his weight in gold. And this could well be the biggest meal served on a platter anywhere in Dubai, if not in UAE. Big enough to be shared by four people and gargantuan enough to turn the heads of those around. I saw it firsthand last month!

So, how do you get started when you have about half a century of dishes to choose from? Begin your lunch (or dinner) par extraordinaire with a soup while tucking into fish fry, prawn fry, mushroom fry or chicken 65. The top pick for a starter though would be the spiced tandoori chicken with a bite of the freshly baked roti or the quintessential warm porotta. And once your appetite has been whetted, you can get down to the mains that come with an abundance of rice including two types of biryani, a jeera (cumin) rice and a whole range of curries inspired by the Chettinad cuisine from the South of India. There’s also a fair representation of the North of India as well with paneer butter masala coming to the rescue of sworn vegetarians but it’s the South Indian favourites like rasam, sambhar, poriyal that rule the roost. And to wash it all down, you have four glasses of rose-flavoured milk after you have ended your meal with a sweet and supari (betel). That’s the crux of the Baahubali thali that takes the chefs about 30 minutes to cook and another 15 minutes or so to assemble and bring to your table.

So, if you are alone, chances are you may end up nibbling just a few of your favourites leaving more than three quarters of the dish untouched. Reason why friends or family for company is strongly advised for this but if you do dare to go solo, then the biryanis, the chicken 65 and the mutton sukka should be your first, very first, ports of call.

But before you even get started, the absolute, unforgettable first thing you must do is get yourself clicked with the thali for your Instagram handle to savour that ‘been there’ moment!

The Ponnusamy story

Ponnusamy started off as a small mess in Chennai in 1954 before becoming an international chain with over a dozen branches in India and four abroad including one here in Dubai. The Bahubali (inspired by the superhit Indian movie by the same name) thali is famous in Chennai where Ponnusamy comes from but now it has found a second home in Dubai too. Arguably the largest thali in Dubai, if not the UAE, finishing this off is more than serious business.

What’s a thali?

Thali is the colloquial name for a round platter used to serve food in the Indian subcontinent (and Southeast Asia) but if you are in an Indian restaurant, thali would refer to an Indian-style meal made up of a selection of various dishes served on a platter. Thali is also used in south Asia for ceremonial purposes. But at Ponnusamy, it’s a ceremony, every day of the week, except for Fridays.

Chettinad cuisine: What’s it about?

You may have heard of Chicken Chettinad. Over decades it has become a flag bearer of a cuisine that is perhaps the most renowned fare in the repertoire of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the region by the same name that is home to the Nattukotai Chettiars.

The Chettiars are known for their use of spices and a variety of sun-dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. Rice and rice-based accompaniments such as dosas, appams, idiyappams, adais and idlis dominate their cuisine that also draws influences from Burma with whom the Chettiars had a long history of mercantile contacts.

The Spice Club

Anasipoo (star aniseed), kalpasi (a lichen), puli (tamarind), milagai (chillies), sombu (fennel seed), pattai (cinnamon), lavangam (cloves), punnai ilai (bay leaf), karu milagu (peppercorn), jeeragam (cumin seeds), and venthayam (fenugreek) are some of the major spices used in Chettinad cuisine. How many have you tasted?

Bahubali thali in numbers

2 - people are required to carry this thali.

4 - people can easily feast on the Bahubali thali with no second serving.

6 - days of the week the thali is available to feast on, except for Fridays.

45 - minutes is the time it takes for the team to assemble this thali with all the dishes.

Dh135 - is the price of the thali.

Location:

Sangeetha Building, Damascus Street,

Al Qusais 3

Timings:

Daily: 10am onwards

Contact:

04 261 9750


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