Experience The Cuisine
Food is the way to anyone’s heart and food in Karnataka especially is like a tour through various delicious flavors and spices. It is a combination of sweet and spice and everything nice. Just like the rich heritage are the delectable dishes/cuisines of Karnataka with their staple food items being Ragi and rice. Karnataka is known for its homely feeling and so is their food, bringing to you the taste of authentic and traditional Kannadiga cuisine. Be it the sumptuous Mysore Masala Dosa or the appetizing Kundapura Koli Saaru from Mangalore or the mouth-watering Udupi Sambar, you have a plethora of food choices to indulge in. So if you come across dishes like Ragi Mudde and Soppina Saru or Chow Chow Bath or the most famous Obbitu and Holige, remember, you are going to be diving deep into the most mouth-watering and healthy dishes that signify the distinct flavors of Karnataka.
Karnataka is a gracious host and offers a spread that appeals to every palate. Traditional Kannadiga cuisine is typically South Indian with a little bit of sweetness for added measure. But that doesn’t begin to sum it all. The feast of the land includes Udupi, Mangalorean, Kodava and yes, Kannadiga, which again is a journey in itself – it varies with the geographical features. Even cereals vary and consumed in every imaginable and unimaginable form. To the uninitiated, some of the preparations might come across as bewildering, but no less delicious. Add to this, a highly evolved sweet tooth, and you get the deliriously wonderful concoctions, which are like nothing else in the world. With Karnataka, the pudding is the proof itself, and you see where the state gets its signature gusto from.
A hallelujah of seafood, spicy fish delicacies like kane fry (lady fish), rice-based preparations, and a wide variety of fruits are perennial favourites on the Mangalorean menu. Epicures believe that fresh coconut, chillies, and the Mangalorean mind together create culinary magic. Mangaloreans love rice in all forms – red grain rice, sannas (idli fluffed with toddy or yeast), pancakes, rice rottis, kori rotti (a dry, crisp, almost wafer-thin rice rotti which is served with chicken curry as a delicacy,) and neer dosa. Patrode, a special dish prepared by steaming stuffed colocasia leaves, is a delicacy not to be missed. Akki rotti, or rice rotti, is a favourite not only in Mangalore but also in Malnad and Kodagu.
Malnad cuisine is fusion of Kodava and Mangalorean fare. Key preparations include the midigayi pickle (tender mango,) sandige, avalakki (beaten rice) and akki rotti made of rice flour.
The ubiquitous masala dosa has its origins in Udupi, and a whole school of South Indian vegetarian cuisine takes its name from this town. This is ‘pure’ vegetarian food, sans onions or garlic. Pumpkins and gourds are the main ingredients, while sambar is prepared with ground coconut and coconut oil as its base. Rasam, a spicy pepper water, is an essential part of the menu, and so are jackfruit, colocasia leaves, raw green bananas, mango pickle, red chillies, and salt. Adyes (dumplings), ajadinas (dry curries) and chutneys, including one made of the skin of the ridge gourd are specialities.
Kodava cuisine is all-out meat and gravy hedonistic and is as distinctive as their costumes, customs and festivals. Pandi curry (pork curry) and Kadumbuttu (rice dumplings) are arguably the most delectable dishes in the Kodava repertoire. The succulent koli curry (chicken curry), nool puttu (rice noodles), votti (rice rotti) and bembla curry (bamboo shoot curry) are also worth trying.
The people of North Karnataka have a taste for wheat and jowar rottis (unleavened bread made of millet), a delicacy best savoured with a variety of chutnies or spicy curries. Apart from the jowar rottis and the trademark yenne badanekayi(brinjal curry), North Karnataka fare boasts a wide range of rottis to choose from: Jolada rotti, thali peet, khadak rotti and sajja rotti (bajra rotti). These rottis are accompanied by side dishes like yenne badanekayi, kaalu palya, soppu palya, usli (made from spicy sprouted gram) and jholka (made from channa dal flour). The best North Karnataka sweets are Dharwad peda, Gokak khardantu, Belgaum khunda, shenga holige and yellu holige, besides the local hoornada holige.
Bijapur offers an exotic culinary treat to travellers. Most famous among them is Dosa Pandi curry with raita, korma curry or a sour dish made of brinjal. The carefully selected range of spices, which are hand ground, and the aromatic Basmati rice, give it an unforgettable flavour and fragrance.
As far as standard breakfast eats are concerned, you can choose from the popular uppittu (roasted semolina laced with chillies, coriander leaves, mustard and cumin seed), idli-sambar (steamed rice cake and curry), thatte idlis (flat idlis), masala dosa (pancake with curried potato filling), set dosa, rava dosa, puri palya, uthapam, vada sambar or kesari bhath (a sweet made of semolina and sugar laced with saffron) and lots more.
The traditional culinary fare of Karnataka is a sumptuous spread that includes several essential menu items. These include protein-rich cereal salads like kosambri, palyas (warm vegetable salads made out of parboiled vegetables chopped fine and tossed with desiccated coconut, green chillies, curry leaves, and mustard seasoning), gojju (a vegetable cooked in tamarind juice with chilli powder in it), tovve (cooked dal without too much seasoning), huli (a thick broth of lentils and vegetables cooked together with ground coconut, spices, tamarind, and chilli powder) and pappad. A complete range of rice-based dishes, including chitranna (rice with lime juice, green chilli, turmeric powder sprinkled with fried groundnuts and coriander leaves,) vangibhath (spiced rice with eggplant,) and pulliyogare (rice flavoured with tamarind juice and spiced with groundnuts) form an integral part of the traditional repertoire. The most distinctive Karnataka dish, however, is the celebrated bisibelebhath, a unique combination of rice, dal, tamarind, chilli powder, and a dash of cinnamon. In rural areas, ragi mudde (steam-cooked finger millet rolled into large balls) served either with mutton curry or soppina saaru forms the staple diet.
To end your meal, you may wish to indulge in sweets like chiroti (a light flaky pastry sprinkled with granulated sugar and soaked in almond milk,) Mysore pak, obbattu or holige (a flat, thin, wafer-like chappati filled with a mixture of jaggery, coconut or copra and sugar, and fried gently on a skillet) and shavige payasa (made of milk, vermicelli, sugar, and cardamom pods).