What do we call the big round thing in the image that contains the small bowls?

Is this a:

a. container
b. bowl
c. dish
d. plate
e. platter

picture of a dish holding several small bowls of food arranged around some rice

4 Answers 4


In Britain, where we have a lot of Indian restaurants, we are used to calling the main dish a thali, or thali plate, and a main dish with a set of smaller bowls or dishes is a thali set. Pronounced like 'tally'.

Thali Plate

A thali is a round platter with an eared rim. ... The thali is generally made with steel or copper. Other dishes served on a thali include vegetables, yogurt, chutney, and pickles.

enter image description here


It depends on how much you want to Anglicise, which depends in turn on who you are talking to.

It is a thali, for example, being sold on ebay. This is the most specific, but many English speakers won't know this English word.

It is a "stainless steel, Indian style serving tray".

It is a dish, a plate, a tray, a platter. You could use any of these words, and combine with adjectives if you need to describe it to someone who is not familiar with Indian food service.


I'd call it a 'serving dish'. To be more specific, I'd call it a 'divided serving dish' or a 'serving dish with compartments'.


Others have already given the correct name of thali, but I wanted to add what I thought before learning that word here:

  • container implies full enclosure for storage or shipment
  • bowl has a curved bottom, either partially or completely
  • dish is a generic term and best avoided when there’s a more specific one
  • plate is flat with no lip
  • platter has several food items directly on it, usually with no divisions

One you didn’t list:

  • tray is a dish for carrying other dishes, but not food directly

Your picture appears to be a combination of a tray (carrying toppings and sauce) and a platter (carrying rice and bread), so someone who doesn’t know the word thali would likely use one of those two words, or just the generic dish rather than using a more specific word they knew wasn’t right.

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