Flavor Profile: Thali Too in New Haven

I'm not a vegetarian, but I imagine it must be stressful ordering off the menu at an unfamiliar restaurant and not being sure if there are secret animal products lurking in a seemingly vegetarian dish. Those with dietary restrictions can order off the menu at Thali Too with ease, as everything is vegetarian friendly. This includes people who eat meat but may have a seafood allergy or two.

I hadn't been to Thali Too in more than five years, and decided to revisit the place with a good friend who has to be careful what she eats because of allergies. We both felt comfortable ordering things to share at Thali Too because we knew she could eat them (and I'll eat just about anything).

We tried to sample a little bit off every section of the menu, and probably ordered way too much. Standouts included the mango lassi ($5.50), a flavored yogurt shake; saag paneer ($12), garlic spinach and cottage cheese cubes; and the hot masala fries ($3), cayenne-infused french fries with a spicy ketchup for dipping. The masala fries come in three spice levels, and of course I stepped up to the "Hot Challenge," and walked away intact. Not terribly spicy, but I'm a fiend for that stuff and I imagine any normal diners would find them to be a kick in the mouth.

We also tried the bisi-bela-bath ($7), steamed rice made with yellow lentils, seasonal veggies, tempered spices and ghee (a kind of clarified butter). The masala idiappam ($7), rice noodles with spices and coconut vegetable stew, was almost a perfect fall night dish. And the medhu vada ($6), donut-shaped lentil fritters, were like little "dinner donuts" with their own sauces. Pretty tasty.

Thali offers a variety of build your own rice or noodle bowls and is a great place to stop in for a quick lunch. Sitting by the window on a fall night helped us feel the warmth of the place on the inside.

Thali Too

65 Broadway, New Haven, (203) 776-1600, thali.com.


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