In a startling turn of events, the humble vegetarian thali, a staple for millions across India, has emerged as a villain in the life of the financially stressed, with its price going up by 7% in March. The culprits behind this gastronomic inflation? None other than the trio of onion, tomato, and potato, whose prices have soared to new heights, leaving consumers teary-eyed and their wallets lighter.

According to the “Roti Rice Rate” report released by Crisil Market Intelligence and Analysis, an arm of the domestic rating agency Crisil, the cost of a vegetable thali – a delightful ensemble of roti, vegetables (onions, tomatoes, and potatoes), rice, dal, curd, and salad – has risen to Rs 27.3 per plate in March from Rs 25.5 in the year-ago period. However, there’s a silver lining: it’s still cheaper than the Rs 27.4 charged in February 2024.

The report reveals that the vegetable thali’s price hike is attributed to a staggering surge in onion (40 per cent), tomato (36 per cent), and potato (22 per cent) prices compared to the previous year. The culprit behind this? Lower arrivals of onion and potato, coupled with a low base for tomatoes from the last fiscal year.

But the story doesn’t end there. The report also highlights that rice prices have increased by 14 per cent, while pulses have jumped by 22 per cent, thanks to lower arrivals in the market.

In a surprising twist, the non-vegetarian thali, where dal is replaced by chicken, has seen a 7 per cent decline in price, settling at Rs 54.9 compared to Rs 59.2 in the year-ago period. However, it’s still higher than the Rs 54 charged in February. The primary reason for this decline is a 16 per cent drop in broiler prices, which account for 50 per cent of the overall cost of the non-vegetarian thali.

But before you get too excited about the prospect of cheaper chicken, the report warns that broiler prices have increased by 5 per cent compared to February due to the start of the holy month of Ramadan and higher demand.

As the cost of living continues to rise, the humble thali has become a symbol of the everyday struggles faced by millions of Indians.

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