Cuisine of Karnataka

The cuisine of Karnataka includes many vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines. The Kannada Cuisine is one of the oldest surviving cuisines and traces its origin to Iron Age - ragi and is mentioned in the historical works by Pampa Maha Kavi, sushrutha, etc. The varieties of the karnataka cuisine has influenced the neighbouring states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra. The cuisine also reflects influences from the food habits of many regions and communities from the three neighbouringSouth Indian states, as well as the state of Maharashtra to its north. Some typical dishes include Bisi bele bathJolada rottiChapati,Ragi rottiAkki rottiSaaruIdli-vada SambarVangi Bath, Khara Bath, Kesari Bath, Davanagere Benne DoseRagi muddePaddu/ Gundponglu, koli saaru (chicken curry- Kannada Style), Maamsa Saaru (Mutton Curry - Kannada style), and Uppittu. The famous Masala Dose traces its origin to Udupi cuisine. Plain and Rave IdliMysore Masala Dosa and Maddur Vade are popular in South Karnataka. Kodagu (Coorg) district is famous for spicy varieties of pork curries while coastal Karnataka boasts of many tasty seafood specialities. Among sweets, Mysore Pak, Holige, or, ObbattuDharwad pedhaChiroti, 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

The North Karnataka cuisine can be primarily found in the northern districts of Karnataka whichinclude DharwadBijapurGulbargaBelgaumBidarYadgirBagalkotRaichur,Davangere,GadagHaveriKoppal 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:

  1. Jolada rotti- Thin flatbread usually made from Jowarflour, baked on fire or iron skillet. Bajra and Wheat flour is also used as an alternative.
  2. Enne-gai / Tumbu-gai - Small badane kaayibulbs stuffed with dry stuffing including ground peanut, ground sesame, ginger, garlic, garam masala, salt, and then sauteed with onions and other spices. Aubergine is also substituted with any other suitable vegetable.
  3. Popular sweets and desserts ..Shenga undegodi huggi
  4. Shenga/Elluchutney - A variety of powder/dry chutney made from ground peanut or sesame.
  5. KempuKhaara, also called "Ranjaka" - chutney paste made with/of red chillis, consumed as a condiment
  6. Kosambari
  7. Beleor kaaLu palya - Split, whole or sprouted kadale, hesaru (mung bean), togari or masoor, cooked with greens such asmethispinachsabbasige and scallion, and sauteed with onions, ginger, garlic and other spices.
  8. Mosarubajji or raitha - salad involving yogurt 
  9. Raw Salads - of scalliononion, green chilimethileaves, sometimes with oggaraNe of sasive or jeerige
  10. Anna - Rice
  11. Saaru- Lentil soup made with pepper, cumincoriander seeds, hing, tomatoes or tamarind.
  12. Happala
  13. Mosaruand majjige
  14. Benneor T
  15. Jhunkaor Pitla - Salty, Masala Cakes made from Channa Dal powder
  16. Raw Green leafy vegetables- Spinach, Methi (fenugreek), and Hakkarike (Argula)
  17. Raw Vegetables- Radish, Cucumber, Onions, Carrots, Green Chillis etc.

South Karnataka cuisine

The South Karnataka or old Mysuru region also known as Bayaluseeme or the plains including the present day Kolara,BengalooruMysooruTumakooruMandyaHaasanaChamarajanagaraRagi 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 gheemustard,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 Kodagu (Coorg) also has its own unique cuisine which includes spicy meat (Pandi (Pork) Curry, Chicken, Mutton), Kadumbutt(Round balls made up of rice), Paputt, Thaliyaputt. The spicy meat curries derives a tangy taste from Kokum Kachampuli.

Common Cuisines

  1. Rice dishes
  2. Bisi bele bath- rice cooked with dal, vegetables and spices; like Huli with rice, but often richer
  3. 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
  4. Chitranna- cooked rice flavoured with spices, particularly oil-popped mustard seeds and turmeric
  5. Mosaranna- curd rice sometimes given a fried spicy touch with fried lentils and oil-popped mustard seeds.
  6. Puliyogare- cooked rice flavoured with spicy tamarind paste
  7. Maavinkaayi chitranna- cooked rice flavoured with raw green mango and spices
  8. Nimbekaayi chitranna- cooked rice flavoured with lemon and spices
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

  1. Benne doseor Butter dose - originating from central Karnataka city of Davangere, known for its enticing Aroma and mouthwatering taste.
  2. The Aromatic and the delicious Davangerebenne dose
  3. Mysore Masala dose
  4. Kosambari made of cucumber
  5. A salad prepared using simple ingredients such as lentils, green chilies and finely chopped coriander. The dish is generally finished with a tempering of mustard seeds and asafetida. Common variants include kosambari made with the above ingredients in addition to grated cucumber or carrot.
  6. Kaalina saaru- Legumes cooked with coconut, spices, tamarind and tempered with asafoetida, curry leaves and mustard. Popular legumes include Kadale kaalu orChickpeas, Halasande Kaalu black-eyed peas, Hesaru kaalu moong beans, Hurali kaalu Horse gram, Avare kaalu Indian beans
  7. Haagalakaayi saaru: Haagalakai, the Indian bitter gourd is simmered with coconut, tamarind and spices and spiked with Jaggery and asafoetida, curry leaves and mustardThe bitterness of the gourd is cut through by the sweetness of the jaggery and tartness of the tamarind.
  8. Gojju- traditionally this is thicker than the Saarubut 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.
  9. Tambuli - A yogurt based cold dish similar to Raita made from Doddapatre soppu. Optional ingredients in this dish includes vegetables and greens.
  10. 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


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.

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 divided (on basis of food culture) 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, which 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 Kodava(Coorg) and the Bunt (coastal Mangalorean) regions are distinct from the rest of the Malnad (hilly Karnataka) region hence the cuisines are also 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 little 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 sticky enough 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 evening 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. Prepared around the region of Hanubalu, in Sakaleshpura taluk of Hassan district.

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