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Cuisine of Karnataka

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Title: Cuisine of Karnataka  
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Subject: Mangalorean cuisine, South Indian cuisine, Indian cuisine, Karadantu, Ragi rotti
Collection: Culture of Karnataka, Desi Cuisine, Karnataka Cuisine, South Indian Cuisine, Vegetarian Cuisine
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Cuisine of Karnataka

The cuisine of Karnataka boasts of many tasty seafood specialities. Among sweets, Mysore Pak, Holige, or, Obbattu, Dharwad pedha, Chiroti, Sajjige, Kadabu/ Karjikaayi are well known.

Although the ingredients differ from one region to another, a typical Kannadiga Oota (Kannadiga meal) includes the following dishes in the order specified and is served on a banana leaf: Uppu (salt), Kosambari, Pickle, Palya, Gojju, Raita, dessert, Thovve, Chitranna, rice and ghee.

After serving ghee to everyone, one may start the meal. This is done to ensure that everyone seated has been served all the dishes completely.

What follows next is a series of soup like dishes such as Saaru, Muddipalya, Majjige Huli or Kootu which is eaten with hot rice. Gojju or raita is served next; two or three desserts are served; fried dishes such as Aambode or Bonda are served next. The meal ends with a serving of curd rice.

There is some diversity in core food habits of North and South Karnataka. While northern-style dishes have jola and rice as the primary cereals the south uses ragi and rice.


  • North Karnataka cuisine 1
  • South Karnataka cuisine 2
  • Karnataka cuisine-common to all regions 3
    • Rice dishes 3.1
    • Dosas 3.2
    • Breads 3.3
    • Chutneys 3.4
    • Palya or side dishes 3.5
    • Kosambari 3.6
    • Sweet and spicy dishes 3.7
    • Saaru (Main course) 3.8
    • Sweets 3.9
    • Pickles 3.10
    • Snacks 3.11
  • Udupi cuisine 4
  • Malenadu cuisine 5
  • Kodagu cuisine 6
  • Mangalorean (Coastal Karnataka) cuisine 7
  • Navayath cuisine 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

North Karnataka cuisine

The North Karnataka cuisine can be primarily found in the northern districts of Karnataka which include Dharwad, Hubli, Bijapur, Gulbarga, Belgaum, Bidar, Yadgir, Bagalkot, Raichur, Davangere, Gadag, Haveri, Koppal and western and northern areas of Bellary. The cuisine is also considered a specialty in the cities of Southern Karnataka like Bengaluru and Mysuru, with several restaurants offering this cuisine to meet the growing demand.

The following is the typical menu of a vegetarian Northern Karnataka meal:

South Karnataka cuisine

The South Karnataka or old Mysuru region also known as Bayaluseeme or the plains including the present-day Kolara, Bengalooru, Mysooru, Tumakooru, Mandya, Haasana, Chamarajanagara. Ragi and Rice are the most important staple grains, Jowar and bajra are also cultivated and consumed in the drier parts of the region. The first meal of the day is the breakfast which is quite substantial. Regular meals consists of Ragi mudde or steamed dumpling made from ragi flour, a curry to roll bits of the dumpling often called Saaru, Rice and Yogurt. Optional accompaniments include a salad called Kosambari, various Palyas (fried, boiled or sauteed spicy vegetables) and assorted pickles.

Formal vegetarian meals are usually served in a particular order and required to be consumed in a particular order as well. These meals are served on Plantain leaves or Mutuka leaves, dry Tendu-like leaves staples together into big circular discs. First accompaniments are served which includes variety of Palya, Kosambari, sweet-savory gojju, hot spicy chutney Pickles, bajji, bonda, vade, Papads. The first course alternated between sweets and rice preparation. The second course is a set of curries to be consumed with rice. It generally starts with Tovve, a mild lentil dish laced with ghee, Majjige Huli, vegetables simmered in a mild yogurt sauce, followed by Huli, lentils and vegetables spiced and tempered with ghee, mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves. This is followed by tili Saaru which is a thin lentil stock spiced and laced with ghee and curry leaves. The final course of the meal is rice and curd with pickles. Buttermilk is also served to be consumed at the end of the meal.

The Hilly district of Kachampuli.

Karnataka cuisine-common to all regions

Some common vegetarian dishes prepared on a regular basis are:

Lunch served on a plantain leaf

Rice dishes

  • Bisi bele bath - rice cooked with dal, vegetables and spices; like Huli with rice, but often richer
  • Vaangi baath - cooked rice mixed with vegetables cooked in oil and spices; the vegetables are usually made into a palya beforehand and the vaangi baath mixed before serving
  • Chitranna - cooked rice flavoured with spices, particularly oil-popped mustard seeds and turmeric
  • Mosaranna - curd rice sometimes given a fried spicy touch with fried lentils and oil-popped mustard seeds.
  • Puliyogare - cooked rice flavoured with spicy tamarind paste
  • Maavinkaayi chitranna - cooked rice flavoured with raw green mango and spices
  • Nimbekaayi chitranna - cooked rice flavoured with lemon and spices
  • Avalakki - Akki (means rice), avalakki is baked flat rice that is soaked briefly and stirfried with cumin seeds, turmeric powder, peanuts, onions, green chillies, garnished with shredded coconuts and cilantro leaves.
  • Mandakki - Puffed rice that is soaked briefly and stirfried with cumin seeds, turmeric powder, peanuts, roasted ground grams, onions, green chillies, garnished with shredded coconuts and cilantro leaves.


The Doses made in Karnataka have a lot of variety and is popular across the world.

  • Benne dose or Butter dose - originating from central Karnataka city of Davangere, known for its enticing Aroma and mouthwatering taste.
The Aromatic and the delicious Davangere benne dosa
ರವೆ ದೋಸೆ ಚಟ್ನಿ
  • Mysore Masala dose
  • Set dose - Thick pan cakes made of rice batter garnished with a hint of coriander leaves, grated carrot and coconut served with saagu and Coconut chutney
  • Saagu Masala dose - dose stuffed with saagu.
  • Masala dose (butter and non butter variants)- inside of the dosa is smeared with Red chutney made of onion, red chilly and garlic. Stuffed with Aloo gadde palya (made of potato and onion)
  • Godhi dōse or dōse made from wheat.
  • Ragi dōse or dōse made from ragi.
  • Rave dōse or dōse made from Rave


ಕಾವಲಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹರಡಿರುವ ಮೆಂತೆ ಸೊಪ್ಪು ಕಲಸಿದ ಗೋಧಿ ಸಂಪಣೆ
  • Ragi rotti - A flat thick pancake made with ragi dough and flavoured with chillies and onions; the dough is shaped and flattened by hand.
  • Akki rotti - A thick, flat pancake-like dish made with a dough of rice flour, chillies, onions and salt; the dough is shaped and flattened by hand.
  • Jolada rotti - A flat pancake dish made with a dough of Sorghum flour and salt; the dough is shaped and flattened by hand. Jowar may be sometimes replaced with bajra.
  • Ragi mudde - Steamed dumplings made by adding ragi flour to boiling water.
  • Gunpangalu - Also known as Gundupongla, Mane Kaavali (skillet with houses), or Poddu. It is made with a rice batter (similar to dose) and cooked in a special skillet with compartments.
  • Sajje rotti/Bhakri - A thick, flat pancake-like dish made with a dough of pearl millet flour and salt; the dough is shaped and flattened by hand and sprinkled with sesame seeds


  • Kadalekaayi chutney
  • Hurali chutney
  • Kaayi chutney- grated coconut ground with dal (kadale) salted and garnished with oil-fried mustard and curry leaves
  • Kaayi chutney (green) - grated coconut ground with dal, green chillies and coriander salted and garnished with oil-fried mustard and curry leaves
  • Kaayi chutney (red) - grated coconut chutney ground with dal and dried red chillies salted and garnished with oil-fried mustard and curry leaves
  • Maavina chutney - grated raw green mango ground with grated coconut, dal, salted and garnished oil-fried mustard and curry leaves.
  • Heerekai chutney - grated ridge-gourd peel ground with grated coconut, dal, salted and garnished oil-fried mustard and curry leaves.
  • Eerulli chutney - grated onion peel ground with grated coconut, dal, salted and garnished oil-fried mustard and curry leaves.
  • Uddina Bele chutney - Fried Black Gram Dal with Tamarind, Red Chillies, salted and garnished oil-fried mustard and curry leaves.
  • Pudina chutney-fry pudina leaves along onion, groundnut, black gram, green chilli, tamrind. Add sugar and grind to fine paste.

Palya or side dishes


Kosambari made of cucumber

A salad prepared using simple ingredients such as lentils, green chillies and finely chopped coriander. The dish is generally finished with a tempering of mustard seeds and asafoetida. Common variants include kosambari made with the above ingredients in addition to grated cucumber or carrot.

Sweet and spicy dishes

Saaru (Main course)

  • Huli- Combination of vegetables and lentils simmered with spices, coconut, tamarind and seasoned with Ghee, asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard, it is an integral part of every formal meal.
  • Majjige Huli- Cooked vegetables simmered in yogurt with coconut, spices, asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard.
  • Tovve- Mushy lentils cooked till creamy, spiked with spices and Ghee. Vegetables are also added to this dish like Ridged gourd, cucumber etc.
  • Obbatinna saaru - made from the left over broth while preparing the sweet obbattu.
  • Bas saaru - made from the broth of boiled lentils and spring beans
  • Mosoppinna/Hulisoppu saaru - made from lentils and spinach
  • Maskai- Combination of vegetables cooked and mashed with spices and seasoning.
  • Menasina saaru - rasam made from pepper, turmeric, and other spices
  • Bele saaru - has toor dal as one of the ingredients
  • Kaalina saaru- Legumes cooked with coconut, spices, tamarind and tempered with asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard. Popular legumes include Kadale kaalu or Chickpeas, Halasande Kaalu black-eyed peas, Hesaru kaalu moong beans, Hurali kaalu Horse gram, Avare kaalu Indian beans
  • Haagalakaayi saaru: Haagalakai, the Indian bitter gourd is simmered with coconut, tamarind and spices and spiked with Jaggery and asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard The bitterness of the gourd is cut through by the sweetness of the jaggery and tartness of the tamarind.
  • Gojju- traditionally this is thicker than the Saaru but thinner than chutney. It is served with hot rice and is sweet, tangy and spicy. It is served in between courses as a palate cleanser. It is made from diverse ingredients including eggplants, okra, fenugreek, tamarind, pineapple, bitter gourd, tomatoes, lemon-lime, etc.
  • Tambuli - A yogurt based cold dish similar to Raita made from Doddapatre soppu. Optional ingredients in this dish includes vegetables and greens.
  • Fish / Mutton / Chicken Saaru - A very famous local curry made mainly from assorted spices and meats. Often mixed and eaten with Ragi Balls and Rice or Bhakri


  • Huggi - cooked rice and kadale or hesaru (mung bean), with coconut, milk, elakki and sweetened with bella (jaggery)
  • Ginnu - sweetened, flavoured and steam boiled colostrum of cow, buffalo or goat
  • Kajjaya - Rice and jaggery fritters deep fried in Ghee.
  • Kadabu - deep fried (kari kadubu) or steamed pastry with assorted sweet filling.
  • karjikaayi - deep fried crisp pastry with dry sweet filling
  • unde - ball shaped sweets with the following variations :
chikkina unde - ellu and bella
chigali unde - made from ellu
rave unde - made from semolina
ರವೆ ಉಂಡೆ
shenga unde - made from peanut
mandakki unde - made from mandakki
avalakki unde - made from avalakki
Hesarunde Moong dal ladoo.
Godhiunde- made from Wheat
Gulaadike Unde- made from Maida and Sugar - A Davangere speciality,
Besanunde - made from besan
tambittu - made from rice or wheat flour and jaggery.
sikkinunde - made from jaggery, dried coconut and maida .
ಸಕ್ಕರೆ ಪಾಕ
  • Haalubaayi - A fudge made with ground rice, jaggery and coconut.
  • mysore pak- A fudge made with Chickpea flour, sugar and ghee.
Mysore pak is famous in south India especially in karnataka
  • Senige Huggi - A very famous sweet made during diwali in Shikaripur near Shimoga
  • Sweet Pastries - The following can be grouped together. These are often accompanied by milled sugar or warm milk flavoured with saffron and almonds.
mandige - huge flat leavened pastry. It is quite a treat to watch chefs making large (>36 inches in diameter) pastries with bare hands and baking them on upturned clay pots over fire.
This is an ancient dish mentioned in a few inscriptions as the Sanskritised mandaka. For instance, a Western Chalukya inscription of A.D. 1121 mentions that Govinda-Dandadhipa, a famous general of Vikramaditya VI, is said to have made a provision for offering this dish as naivedya to Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshvara, at Pauthage.[1]
Phenori, a sugar-coated fried sweet from Karnataka
chiroti, phenori - unleaved, layered, sugar-coated fried sweets.
shaavige chiroti - vermicelli pastry.
  • kesaribhath, Sira - This is made of rice (or semolina in southern karnataka) cooked with sugar/jaggery, cardamom, saffron, milk, dry fruits (mostly raisins), and sometimes fresh fruits like banana, mango and pineapple. Popularly colored yellow/orange/saffron or left white. In North Karnataka, the semolina version is called Sihi Sajjige or Sheera or Sira; kesaribhath usually refers to the rice version.
  • Hayagreeva - A chickpea based dessert prepared on special occasions; popular amongst the Maadhwa community
  • Paramanna - Rice pudding with Ghee and Jaggery
  • Mamu Puri - Flour, Ghee, Sugar, Khoa, first khoa is packed between 2 halves of chapati then fried. It is exported mainly to gulf.
  • Maaldi - A delicious sweet dish made of powdered 'baked wheat roti's', poppy seed, jaggery, hurakadle (daria), and served with ghee. It is a must sweet on the occasion of marriages .


Pickles are usually raw seasoned vegetables and sea food, but there are cooked varieties as well called Bisi Uppinakayi (hot pickle). The seasoning varies from plain salt to spices like green chilli, red chilli powder, black pepper, whole and powdered mustard seeds, coriander seeds, etc. They significantly differ from North Indian pickles or achar in that considerably less oil is usually used in the pickles; salt is the main preservative.


  • Pakoda
  • Vadey - Ambode, Sabbakki vadey, Bele vadey etc.
    ಸಬ್ಬಕ್ಕಿ ವಡೆ
  • Chakkuli
    Chakli in hot oil

Udupi cuisine

Udupi cuisine takes its name from Udupi, a city on west coast of Karnataka. Udupi cuisine has its origin in Ashta mathas of Udupi founded by Shri Madhvacharya. Its core is a vast range of creative dishes emphasizing local vegetables and fruits.

Malenadu cuisine

The Malenadu of Karnataka can be culturally (on basis food culture) can be clearly divided as South Malnad comprising Northern Somawarpete in North Kodagu, Sakaleshapura, Mudigere, southern part of chickamagaluru taluk and western part of Belur and Alur taluks in Hassan. Central malnad consisting of chickamagalur, Koppa, malnad region of Shivmoga, and western ghat regions of Uttara Kannada. Even though Western ghat regions of Uttara knnada and Belagavi can be considered as Northern malnad the food culture of these regions is unaware to the rest of Malnad, may be due to inadequate communication with the other parts of malnad and Karnataka. Although many refer to the malenadu cuisine as an amalgam of Coorgi and Mangalorean cuisine, it has its own distinct style. The Bunt (coastal Mangalorean) regions are actually distinct from the rest of the Malnad (hilly Karnataka) region hence the cuisines are also in fact different. The word "Malenaadu" means "land of mountain ranges". The cuisine is heavily influenced by the variety of fruits and vegetables available in the rich forests of western ghats. The ingredients like tender bamboo shoots, colocassia leaves, turmeric leaves, raw jackfruit are easily found in the Sahyadri ranges. Steaming is the favored method of cooking in Malenaadu. More often than not, there is minimal use of oils in malenaadu cuisine.

  • Kaalu kadabu- small kadubus (dumplings) as small as Kaalu (beans) made by pounding water washed rice into powder and then steamed to make it enouigh sticky to make dumplings. Once the kadubus (thousands in number) are made is given typical malnad masale (red chili, oil, mustard, graped coconut, jeera, little tamrind juice, curry leaves, salt to taste, etc.) and served hot with hot thuppa (homemade ghee from cow's or buffalo's milk). Prepared around the region of Hanubalu, in Sakaleshpura taluk of Hassan district.
  • Chattituttu- An evenning snack usually prepared by grinding rice with other ingredients such as chili, salt, coconut and tiny square sliced onions are added to make a thick mixture. Which then will be spread (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick and approximately 6 inches in diameter) over thoroughly oiled bisi henchu (hot tava) once it becomes hard enough kenda (burning charcoal) will be placed over it make it enough crispy. A delicious evening snack, mouth watering than paani puri and other stuffs. Prepared around the region of Hanubalu, in Sakaleshpura taluk of Hassan district.
  • kotte kadabu
  • kadabu
  • chicken saaru
  • chicken fry
  • voththu Shaavige with chicken curry
  • voththu shaavige with ghasghase paayasa or kaayi haalu - Steamed rice noodles with a sweet payasa or sweetened coconut milk.
  • votthushaavige uppittu - Steamed rice noodles stir fried with oil, mustard seeds, onions, green chillies and curry leaves.
  • akki rotti - rice rotti / flat bread made with rice.
  • Bamboo shoot pickle -Kalule` uppinakayi
  • Bamboo shoot curry - Kalule` palya
  • halasina haNinna kadabu, paayasa
  • Halasina haNinna happla
  • Maavina midi uppinnakkayi
  • Halasina haNinna dose - jackfruit dose
  • Akki Tari Kadabu - breakfast dish made with broken rice.
  • Gangala dose - steamed dosa
  • Angu or Thode-daaga - very thin sweet crepe made with a thin batter of rice and jaggery.
  • Kaayi Holige - a dessert made with fresh coconut, jaggery and maida.
  • Haalu Payasa - rice pudding, falvored with turmeric leaves and cardamom.
  • Haalu Hittu - semi-soft milk pudding made with milk, rice paste and sugar.
  • Kesina Soppina Palya - A side dish prepared using colocasia leaves as the main ingredient. Served with akki rotti.
  • Kesuvina Gantu- A delicious dish made by rolling tender colocassia leaves and making a gantu( knot) sometimes a single hunk of rock salt and a garlic pettle willbe placed inside. The Gantu should be tight enough that it should not open while steaming. The steamed gantus are given little touch of tamrind juice and chilli. Can be consumed with akki rotti, rice, chapathi. Or just as it is.[Again a dish prepared in the region of Hanbalu in Sakaleshpura].
  • Thumbuli - a cool saaru usually made in summer using yogurt, ginger, pepper and other spices. Served with steamed rice.
  • Maaldi - a coarse cereal made from ground whole wheat, jaggery, black til and other ingredients. Usually served in a bowl with either milk or ghee.
  • Aralu pudi - a rice cereal made of ground toasted / puffed rice, Jaggery, Elaichi are pounded to powder thin. Usually served in a bowl with warm milk. This cereal is also used as a filling in a special dessert called hurulu kadabu.
  • Hoorulu kadabu - A traditional dessert made with aralu pudi, jaggery, coconut and other ingredients. The mixture is shaped and steamed in turmeric leaves.
  • Kaadu mavinahannina saaru - a sweet and sour saaru made with whole tiny ripe mangoes. Served with cooked rice.
  • kaapi-Coffee- fresh grounded, filtered coffee well mixed with thick milk and sugar is a must. It's served at least five to six times a day in coffee growing regions of Malnad such as Somawarapete, Sakaleshapura, Mudigere, Chickamagaluru taluk and western part of Belur and Alur taluks in Hassan.

Kodagu cuisine

Kodagu's staple food is rice. Traditional dishes include

Mangalorean (Coastal Karnataka) cuisine

Coconut is widely used in the mangalore cuisine. Traditional dishes include

Navayath cuisine

The Navayath cuisine can be primarily found in the coastal districts of Karnataka, mainly in Uttara Kannada and Udupi. Rice, coconut, sea food, eggs, poultry, and mutton are widely used in the Navayath cuisine. Traditional dishes include

  • Ambut Lukha or fish curry prepared with coconut and spices.
  • Chambat Poli or flat rice pancake prepared by spreading batter on banana leaves and roasting on griddle with little oil . Usually served with mutton curry,
  • Navari, a special dish prepared by spreading rice batter with coconut filling stuffed in turmeric leaves. Filling may be sweet or spicy and cooking may be by steaming or by roasting on a griddle.
  • Shaofa pana appam, A soft thin pancake made of rice batter, coconut milk and fennel leaves
  • Mudkule Rice dough cooked in Prawn curry.
  • Bhatkal Biryani, made of fish, shrimps, chicken or mutton with rice. It is famous globally.
  • Bhatkal halwa
  • Mushroom curry from seasonal natural mushroom from nearby forest is a delicacy during monsoon.
  • Amatya Godan or payasam, made of hog plum, rice flour, and jaggery cooked in coconut milk.
  • Shinonya Nevari is a preparation of rice and coconut batter filled in mussels with spices and steamed like idlis.

See also


  1. ^ "South Indian Inscriptions, Vol III, Bombay Karnataka Inscriptions, Geographical Divisions". Retrieved 10 October 2007. 

External links

South canara recipes

  • 21 Karnataka Breakfast Dishes
  • Karnataka - South Indian Recipes
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