indian thali sampler

The Weekend Lunch Debate: Cultures Collide


Okay, the weekend is over and I won the battle, I think. What battle? The weekend lunch battle! It is summer and so a summer lunch at home to me means no cooking, or soup and sandwich or sandwich and carrot sticks. Light, easy and left overs are even fine. Well, my husband, even though we’ve been together for over a decade now, still thinks lunch is incomplete if it isn’t cooked. So, Saturdays we tend to go out to an Indian buffet, because otherwise it is like he almost expects the buffet to make it to him. I guess I won since this week we went out on Saturday for lunch and on Sunday it was a one pot pasta and whatever you wanted from the fridge.

An Indian Lunch

Okay, I’ll do the full disclosure to prevent the hate messages: Not all families eat the same. I’m talking from my experience living with my Marathi husband who has lived in the US for nearly half his 40-odd years now, visiting his family and having lived in India in the past for around 2 years. I’ve found that more often than not, an Indian lunch involves a lot of cooking and “cold” lunches only exist if you’re heading on a train or car trip.

I’m more of a casserole type, but unfortunately, my husband is not. Tuna casserole? NOPE. Shepherd’s Pie? Nope! So, we avoid casseroles for the most part and go with what he considered mini meals on the weekends especially.

Since half of our family is vegetarian, we don’t do the standard American meat/potato/vegetable/wonder bread and milk dinners either.

Well, I’m not Sally home maker and honestly, by now, I’d like for my husband to learn to be okay with that! By the way, I‘m not a stay at home mom by choice, the current tax structure has me figuring out this “life.”

indian lunch
A standard simple Indian lunch or dinner. Photo courtesy
Vegetable, dal, salad, rice, chapati, and in the middle pickle.

The Indian buffet found in the US is often made up of mostly Punjabi dishes. However, each region of India has their own style of food, and you may even find differences within a state of India! So, at home, the food would be served “family” style or on a thali.

Here’s the thing, while I do love Indian food, sometimes, I don’t want to cook. And that sometimes means “most lunch times.” While in India we had a maid/cook who made a nice lunch which included the standard fare of two carbs (rice and chapati/roti) and dal (or amte) and a vegetable, I don’t see both carbs as being necessary.

In fact, we have come to the point where at home here back in the US, we often do kichdi. This is a dal and rice with a vegetable all made together in one dish in the pressure cooker or steamer. Don’t tell my husband, but that’s basically a casserole.

The Indian at home thali

indian thali sampler
The Indian Thali. While this one, Courtesy of is from a wedding, an at-home lunch on the weekend may include a good selection of these foods. Sorry, one vegetable dish and “garam” chapati, not even home made is just about as far as I go on the weekend.

When it comes to an at-home thali, it come “light” or it can be a full-on a bit of everything. One of those large thalis will likely include:

  • at least one vegetable dish
  • a second vegetable dish or a non-veg dish if the family isn’t vegetarian
  • appetizer
  • lentil dish
  • rice
  • salad
  • bread (roti/chapati)
  • pickle (condiment)
  • raita (yogurt side)
  • pappard (spicy “chip”)
  • sweet dish

Well over the years, my husband and I have had this conversation many times. And, he still doesn’t get the soup and sandwich being a full lunch, but he tolerates it, but it definitely can’t be an every day thing. After all, he already doesn’t get a fresh dabba (hot lunch box made the morning of) for lunch every day like he did when we lived in India. I figure, I married him, I can do a few of these things. I guess in exchange he should be okay with BFD a few times a year (you know, breakfast for dinner!).

What’s your standard weekend lunch menu?

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  1. Amanda, I laughed so hard, I almost fell out of my chair. You see, I come from a similar background and didn’t eat sandwiches for lunch. We had cooked lunches and dinner and that was that. Reading this made me see how ridiculous it can appear at times. I hear you!

    As cultures collide, we learn to adapt one way of doing things into accommodating the other way. I married an American and we had some of the same issues. Even after living here for so many years, I don’t do sandwiches unless my kids request it. :-) LOL!

  2. Haha, my husband doesn’t consider anything a meal unless there is roti involved. He doesn’t even feel satisfied with tortillas (when I make the roti with white flour). There’s a deeply rooted food psychology at work here. 😀
    My husband also doesn’t understand the concept of a casserole, pasta, or soup with salad and bread for dinner or lunch. We live over here in India. So when I want pasta, people in India (in our family) consider it a snack. I made boatloads of pasta on Christmas, and the immediate family invited extended family over to come try it, and what was supposed to be a meal was only a small taste for everyone.
    It was actually very frustrating.
    So in our home, when I want pasta for dinner, I make it. Husband makes his own subji and I help him by making roti. That way we both get what we want. :)


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