Cuisine of Karnataka

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The cuisine of Karnataka comprises diverse vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. The varieties' influence can be found in the food habits of many regions and communities from the three neighbouring South Indian states, as well as the state of Maharashtra to its north. Some typical dishes include Bisi bele bath, Ragi rotti, Akki rotti, Saaru, Vangi Bath, Khara Bath, Kesari Bath, Davanagere Benne Dosa, Ragi mudde, and Uppittu.The famous Masala Dosa traces its origin to Udupi cuisine[citation needed]. Plain and Rave Idli, Mysore Masala Dosa and Maddur Vade are popular in South Karnataka. Coorg district is famous for spicy varieties of pork curries while coastal Karnataka boasts of many tasty sea food specialities. Among sweets, Mysore Pak, Dharwad pedha, Chiroti 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: Kosambari, Pickle, Palya, Gojju, Raita, Dessert (Yes, it is a tradition to start your meal with a dessert - Paaysa), 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, 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.

It is believed that every meal is a wholesome meal containing essential components of a healthy meal such as proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins.

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

The North Karnataka Cuisine can be primarily found in the northern districts of Karnataka, including Bidar, Kalburgi, Vijapura, Bagalakote,Belagaavi, Raayachooru, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri, Koppala, and parts of Ballari.

The following are typical items in a typical vegetarian Northern Karnataka meal :

South Karnataka Cuisine

The South Karnataka Cuisine can be primarily found in the southern districts of Karnataka, such as Kolara, Bengalooru, Mysooru, Tumakooru, Mandya, Haasana, Chamarajanagara etc. Excepting the usage of ragi mudde, most of the dishes are common to households in the adjoining districts such as Bangalore, Mysore, Tumkur. A meal, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, includes ragi mudde, which is a round ball made by boiling raagi or millet in water; hurali saaru, a spicy soup-like dish made from horse grams along with a variety of Indian spices; or bas saaru, another spicy soup-like dish made from the broth of lentils and spring beans; kempanna, or boiled red rice, and mosaru or curd. Farming is the means of livelihood for villagers of Kolar; the consumption of light, but energetic food in the form of ragi provides the stamina for this. The farmers generally eat 2–3 ragi balls for lunch, and make do with the disposable leaf from the blue agave found in abundance as fences in the fields.

Karnataka Cuisine-Common to all parts

Some common vegetarian dishes prepared on a regular basis are:

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 in Kannada; avalakki is rolled rice that is soaked and cooked with spices and sometimes vegetables.
  • Mandakki


File:Neer Dose.JPG
Neer Dose, an authentic dish of Karnataka served with chutney and sambhar
  • Ragi rotti - A flat thick pancake made with Ragi dough and flavoured with chillies and onions; it 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; shaped and flattened by hand prior to cooking
  • Jolada rotti
  • Ragi mudde - Big steamed dumplings made by adding Ragi flour to boiling water with salt to taste.
  • Gunpongalu
  • Chapathi - flat unleavened bread made from atta flour, water, oil and salt, rolled out into the desired shape
  • Dosa, masala dose, rave dose, paper dose, plain dose, vegetable dose, onion dose, set dose, neer dose, godhi dose, ragi dose, menthey dose.
  • Variants of Idli - like Mallige idli, Thatte idli, rave idli, masala idli, and others.


  • 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.

Palya or side dishes


File:Cucumber kosambri.jpg
Kosambari made of cucumber

Kosambari is a unique Kannadiga dish and is prepared using simple ingredients such as lentils, parsley, green chillies and finely chopped coriander, seasoned with mustard seeds. Common variants include kosambari made with the above ingredients in addition to grated cucumber or carrot.

Sweet & Spicy dishes

Saaru ( Main course)

see also Saaru


  • Bele thovve - cooked toor dal, turmeric, salt, garnished with oil-fried mustard and curry leaves.
  • Southekai thovve - cucumber dices cooked with toor dal, turmeric, salt, garnished with oil-fried mustard and curry leaves.
  • Heerekai thovve - de-seeded Ridge Gourd cooked with toor dal, turmeric, salt, garnished with oil-fried mustard and curry leaves.
  • Thumbuli - spicy gravy
  • Uppittu - variants of which include avarekalu uppittu and chow chow bath.


File:Coconut holige.jpg
Kaayi holige or obbattu
  • suggi
  • huggi - cooked rice & chana or moong, with coconut, milk, elakki and sweetened with bella (jaggery)
  • giNNu - sweetened, flavoured & steam boiled colostrum of cow, buffalo or goat
  • kajjaya - goes very well with milk and ghee.
  • kari kadabu - deep fried or steamed pastry with sweet filling
  • modaka - deep fried or steamed pastry with 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
shenga unDe - made from peanut
mandakki unDe - made from mandakki
avalakki unDe - made from avalakki
Ladoo - made of flour and other ingredients formed into balls that are dipped in sugar syrup.
tambittu - made from the flour of dried-raw wheat and jaggery.
sikkinunde - made from jaggery, dried coconut and maida .
  • paayasa - milk & jaggery/sugar based porridge, with the following variations :
beLe - made from split chana or moong
jack fruit
cashew, almond and other nuts.
  • obbattu or hOLige - stuffed or plain sweet flat bread/pancake/crepe with variations including :
beLe Obbattu - made from lentils or chana
Kaayi Obbattu - made from coconut, or peanut in northern karnataka
  • haalu-puri - from milk sugar and floured batter.
  • sajjige - boiled semolina sweetened with sugar or jaggery and mixed with cooked fruits like banana or pine apple
  • sakkare achhu - little sugar statues/toys made during Sankranti
  • Haalubaayi - marinated rice ground with jaggery and coconut to form a semi solid that melts in the mouth.
  • basundi
  • mysore pak
  • dharwad pedha
  • karadantu
  • sheekaraNi - pulp of ripe fruit (usually mango or banana) with additions such as sugar, elakki, jaakayi/jaapatri, milk,etc
  • Damrottu - From sweet pumpkin
  • Kunda - prepared from milk
  • Balushahi
  • Sweet Pastries - The following can be grouped together. These are often accompanied by milled sugar, and/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.
chiroti, pheni - fluffy & leavened pastry, sometimes called padaru pheni because it is leavened.
shaavige chiroti - vermicelli pastry.
  • kesaribhath - rice (or semolina in southern karnataka) cooked with sugar/jaggery, cardamom, saffron, milk, dry fruits, and sometimes fresh fruits like banana, mango and pineapple.


Pickles are usually raw seasoned vegetables & sea food, but there are cooked varieties as well called Bisi Uppinakayi. 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 are significantly differ from North Indian pickles or achar in that considerably less oil is usually used in the pickles; salt is the main preservative.


  • Bonda or Bajji - deep fried vegetables (and sometimes chicken and seafood) in batter
  • Vadey - Ambode, Sabbakki vadey, Bele vadey etc.
  • Chakkuli
  • Nippattu
  • Kodubale
  • baaLaka - deep fried vegetable & fruit chips or wafers. The vegetables are usually dried and seasoned with spices, and even butter milk. Common candidates are potato, sweet potato, yam, cassava, ripe jack fruit, banana, plantain, chilli, varieties of suitable green bean pods (usually gori kaayi/chaLLe kaayi), etc.

Non-vegetarian dishes

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

Although many refer to the malenadu cuisine as an amalgam of Coorgi and Mangalorean cuisine, it has its own distinct style. 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 a favored the method of cooking in malenaadu. More often than not there is minimal use of oils in malenaadu cuisine.

Kodagu Cuisine

Kodagu's staple food is rice. Traditional dishes include

Mangalooru Cuisine

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

  • KaNe fry or lady fish fry
  • KoRi roti Crisp flat rice pancake roasted on griddle without oil . Can be stored up to 6 months. Usually served with chicken curry,
  • Patrode, a special dish prepared by steaming stuffed colocasia leaves.
  • Neer dosa, A soft thin pancake made of batter of boiled rice, coconut milk and salt
  • Appam
  • Beeja manoli upkari, or tendli and cashewnuts poriyal
  • wheat halwa
  • Maavina Saaru preserved salted mango fruit cooked whole in a base of steam-cooked toor dal, eatend with red rice or Indian bread.
  • Saala - preserved salted jackfruit shallow fried with traditional oil-mustard seasoning. Eaten as a snack, or as dry vegetable in a meal.

Manni is a traditional dessert made of rice, coconut and jaggery. It can also can be made of various flavours such as vegetables.

See also

External links