Karnataka Cuisine

Karnataka’s cuisine is characterised by distinct textures, flavours and tastes. The encompassing culinary repertoire here includes the earthy flavours of north Karnataka, the traditional fare of south Karnataka, the spicy dishes of the coastal region and the distinctive Kodava cuisine. In fact, variety is the underlying flavour of Karnataka cuisine. Be it the strict vegetarian delicacies of Udupi or the non-vegetarian treats of Kodava, food in Karnataka is never boring. There is definitely something to satisfy everybody’s palate.

Rice is the staple food here and is prepared in a variety of ways. One can fi nd some of the richest varieties of rice-based delicacies in Mangalore. The paper thin akki rotis of Malnad called talipattus are also extremely popular and a widely sought after item. Rotis made of wheat, jowar and ragi are also used in the northern regions of the state. The use of oil is minimum and most of the food items are steamed. Fruits, fresh and pickled, are consumed with almost all meals.

Each region of the state has its own unique flavour. A typical meal here is vegetarian, which is cooked in sesame or ground nut oil. Although the ingredients differ from one region to another, a typical meal consists of Uppu ( Salt ) kosambari, pickle, palya, gojju, raita, paaysa, thovve, chitranna, rice and ghee. This is served in banana leaves and the serving of ghee heralds the start of the meal.

The coastal areas see delicious meat, fish and seafood dishes cooked in coconut oil. Mangalorean cuisine’s fish and meat specialties have a distinct Goan influence and the food here is cooked in coconut milk. Northern Karnataka’s bhakri meal is very different from the ragi meal of the rural areas of Mysore. Similarly, the food prepared in a Coorgi household has no similarity to food available in other parts of the state. But one thing common to all areas are rice, ragi and jowar (millet). Rice dishes like bisi bele bhath, vaangi bhath and chitrana as well as ragi roti, akki roti, kosambari, and numerous saarus can be sampled anywhere in the state. When in Karnataka, koli bas saaru, mutton chop curry, meatball curry, chicken pulao and mutton pulao are definitely a must for non-vegetarians. For seafood, one should visit the coastal regions where fish curry and liver fry are simply irresistible.

When talking about the cuisine of Karnataka, it is an absolute must to mention Udupi food. It is famous for its many delicacies, which are strictly vegetarian. Even onions and garlic are avoided in the cooking of Udupi food. The masala dosa, one of the most popular food items in India, has its origin here. Sambar, rasam, dumplings, dry curries, pickles and chutneys of different types are also Udupi specialties. And in direct contrast to this cuisine is the excellent non-vegetarian fare of Kodagu, which present nonvegetarian delicacies like pandi (pork) curry, koli (chicken) curry and bembla curry. Sea fi sh also feature prominently in the culinary fairs of coastal Karnataka.

Karnataka is also famous for its desserts prepared from milk, vermicelli, sugar, coconut, jaggery and various dry fruits. Payasas, pedas of different types, kesari bhath, Mysore pak and chiroti are some of the most popular desserts of Karnataka.

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