Exploring Karnataka’s Culinary Delights: 18 Must-Try Delicious Dishes

Karnataka has one of the mildest cuisines in India. It has many different and diverse regions, each with their own unique Karnataka foods to try. Regions in Karnataka like North Karnataka, South Karnataka, Kodagu, Udupi, and Mangalore have their own staples and specialities, from vegetarian dishes to seafood and meat curries. The staple food items of Karnataka include rice, raagi, and jower (millet). A traditional meal in Karnataka is made up of huli (thick broth cooked with vegetables, lentils and ground paste of coconut, chili, tamarind, and spices), palya (vegetables), tovve (cooked lentils with minimal seasoning), kootu, kosambari (lentil and vegetable salad), saaru (clear pepper broth), obattu (sweet flatbread also called holige), payasa, papad, puri (rolled from wheat flour), pickles, and curd. This is served on banana leaves or muttuga leaves (these leaves are sewn together).

Malabar Thali - a selection of different dishes

Famous dishes in Karnataka include: bisi bele bhath, Davanagere benne dosa, uppittu, ragi rotti, akki rotti, saaru, kesari bath, bangi bath, khara bath, and ragi mudde. Popular sweet dishes of Karnataka include Mysore pak, chiroti (a light flaky pastry that is sprinkled with granulated sugar and is later soaked in almond milk), obbattu or holige (a flat, thin chapatti/crepe filled with a mixture of jaggery, coconut or copra and sugar and toasted gently on a skillet), gokak, Dharwad peda, kardantu, sakkare acchuhaala-puri, ladoo and shavige payasa (made from milk, vermicelli, sugar and cardamom).

Karnataka’s cuisine is influenced by its neighbours, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to the south and Maharashtra to the north. It is also said to be one of the oldest cuisines in the country, dating back to the Iron Age.

1. Bisi Bele Bhath – An All-In-One Dish

Bisi bele bath is a rice dish, a popular dish from Karnataka

Bisi Bele Bhath is one of the most popular Karnataka foods. Essentially a blend of rice, lentils, vegetables and spices, all cooked together to create a flavourful all-in-one dish. It is often served with generous helpings of ghee and potato chips or boondi. Bisi means hot in Kannada and hence this dish is best eaten piping hot.

2. Dosas – The Perfect Comfort Food

Mysore Masala Dosa is famous and is served with sambar and chutney,

Dosas are a popular dish all across India, and Karnataka is no different. They are essentially pancakes made with fermented batter of rice and black gram, and served with sambar (lentil stew) and chutney. The southern state is known for its many varieties of dosa. One of the most well-known is Davangere benne dosa, which is made with generous amounts of butter, while Mysore masala dosa is smeared with chutneys stuffed with spicy potato filling. Set dosas are thicker versions, while you can also get dosas made with ragi (millets) and rave (semolina). Another popular variation is the neer dosa that comes from Mangalore, where the rice is soaked in water overnight rather than being fermented.

3. Mysore Pak – A Delicious Sweet Treat

Mysore pak is a delicious Indian sweet popular among Karnataka foods
The hard, porous variety of Mysore pak

Mysore Pak is a well known sweet from Karnataka. It was first created in the kitchens of the Mysore Palace and is made with chickpea flour, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar. The texture varies with the amount of ghee added to the dish from hard and porous (less ghee), to soft, dense, and fudge-y (more ghee).

4. Maddur Vada – The Ideal Snack

Maddur vada, a popular fried snack from Karnataka
(via archanaskitchen.com)

A popular snack, the Maddur Vada gets its name from Maddur town in Mandya. Unlike regular vadas which resemble doughnuts, Maddur Vadas are large and circular. They are made with flour, onions, semolina, and spices, and fried until crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. They are quite popular among Karnataka foods.

Thatte idli, a Karnataka breakfast food item

Like dosas, idlis are enjoyed across South India. These steamed rice cakes are made with a fermented batter of black lentils and rice and served with chutney and sambar. A popular variation in Karnataka is the thatte idli, a plate-sized flattened variant (thatte is the Kannada word for a plate). Other variations popular in Karnataka are the rava idli, made from rava (or semolina), and Muday idli found in Mangalore.

Famous dharwad peda
(via flavorsofmycity.com)

Named for the city of Dharwad in Karnataka, this sweet is made with milk which is heated and stirred continuously, along with sugar and condensed milk. It is said that that the Dahrwad peda was first created by a 19th-century confectioner in Dharwad, and has been given a Geographical Indication tag making it quite famous among the various Karnataka foods.

7. Jolada Rotti – A North Karnataka Specialty

Jolada Rotti, A North Karnataka Specialty
(via kannada.pratilipi.com)

This Indian flatbread is made with jowar (or sorghum) flour and salt, which is cooked on an iron skillet. It is popular in North Karnataka, where it is eaten with enne gai (eggplants stuffed with spices) or chutney. Other common rottis include akki rotti (made with rice flour, chillies, and onions) and ragi rotti (which is made with ragi, chillies and onions)

8. Pandi Curry – For The Pork Lovers

Pandi curry from coorg is popular among karnataka foods
(via evolveback.com)

Pork or pandi is a popular non-vegetarian delicacy hailing in Coorg (or Kodagu). This spicy curry is made with a unique spice blend, and ‘Coorg Vinegar’ made from kachumpuli, a fruit which imparts a distinct sour flavour. It is served with rice balls or akki roti (rice roti).

9. Chiroti – A Flaky Pastry

Chiroti a flaky pastry from karnataka
(vi Wikipedia Commons)

Chiroti is a traditional Karnataka sweet that is prepared with a layered dough of maida (plain flour) fried until it resembles a flaky pastry and sprinkled with cardamom sugar. A version of this is the shredded, flaky peni (also called pheni or sutarfeni) which resembles crispy vermicelli. Also similar is mandige, a crepe with a thin filling of sugar and ghee.

10. Mangalore Bajji – The Monsoon Snack

Mangalore bhajji, a fried snack from Karnataka
(via vegrecipesofindia.com)

Also called goli baje, Mangalore bajjis are a popular snack from Karnataka. It is made with flour, yoghurt, gram flour, rice flour, onions, coconut, and green chillies which are shaped into small balls and deep fried. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, it is often served with coconut chutney.

11. Kori Gassi – For Spice Lovers

Kori Ghassi or chicken curry is among the popular karnataka foods

Kori gassi is a chicken curry which comes from the coastal region of Karnataka and is particularly popular in Mangalore. The chicken is cooked with spices, tamarind, and ground fresh coconut. It is often served with neer dosa or roti.

Also Read: 12 best restaurants in Mangalore to get some amazing local food

12. Haalbai And Huggi – Just Like Fudge!

Haalbai And Huggi, a fudge-like sweet dish from Karnataka
(via masterchefu.com)

Many desserts from Karnataka are made without dairy products and sweetened with jaggery. One of the most popular of these is haalbai, which is a fudge made from ground rice, coconut and jaggery, as well as coconut milk. Similar to this is huggi which consists of cooked rice with hesaru (dried mung bean), with coconut, milk, elakki (cardamom) and jaggery.

Also Read: 16 mouth-watering Indian desserts to try

13. Saagu – Tastes Best With Dosa Or Puri

Saagu served with roti is popular among Karnataka foods

Eaten throughout Karnataka, saagu is a creamy vegetable curry made with coconut, spices, and poppy seeds. It is often served as an accompaniment with dosa, chapati or poori and is quite popular as far as Karnataka foods go.

14. Ragi Mudde – A Staple In Karnataka

Ragi mudde, a staple of karnataka foods
(via archanaskitchen.com)

Ragi mudde is a very popular staple dish in the rural area of Karnataka, and can also be found in cities across the state. It has only two ingredients, ragi (millets) flour and water. The mixture is cooked until it creates a smooth dough which is then shaped into balls. These are eaten with types of saaru (thin stews made of greens with sprouted grams, meat or vegetables) or curry. It is an extremely nutritious food item from Karnataka that’s also easy to make and keeps you full and feeling fit.

15. Obbattu/Holige – Try This If You Like Puran Poli

Puran Poli / Holige/ Obbattu - Indian sweet flatbread

This sweet flatbread is found across India as puran poli. Known as obbattu or holige in Karnataka, it is made with wheat flour, ghee, cardamom and nutmeg. One version is filled with channa dal (split yellow gram) or toor dal and jaggery, while another has a coconut and sugar based filling.

16. Uppittu And Khara Bhath – Tasty And Wholesome

South Indian dish from Karnataka chow chow bath with coconut chutney.

Uppittu, or upma as it is also known, is a dish that is popular throughout South India and is usually made with dry roasted rava (semolina) cooked with water and vegetables. In Karnataka, a variation of this is mixed with a variety of spices creating khara bhath. A sweet version, kesari bhath, is often served with this (together called chow chow bhath) is also popular, made with rava, sugar, ghee, and milk, as well as saffron and pineapple or banana. When made with coarser rava and unflavoured with saffron, is called sajjige which is similar to sooji halwa from North India.

17. Churumuri – If You Love Chaat

Charmuri a popular snack in Mangalore, karnataka

While chaats might be a street food mostly associated with Northern India, Churumuri is one that comes from Karnataka. This snack is made with puffed rice mixed with carrot, onions, tomato, jaggery, spices and ghee or oil. Unlike the similar bhel puri, it doesn’t have tamarind paste.

18. Puri Unde – Bite-Sized Goodness

Puri Unde is a crunchy, crispy, delicious ladoo which is made from puri or puffed rice or roasted poha.

Puffed rice (or puri) is also used in this sweet dish where they are combined and coated with jaggery to made puffed rice balls (unde). There are also lots of different types of unde, such as rave unde (made with semolina), besan unde (made from besan, or chickpea flour), shenga unde (with peanuts), ellu unde (with sesame seeds, and also called  til laddu).

The Food Of Karnataka Has Variety And Exceptional Taste

Each region of Karnataka is known for its special food. Cuisines like North Karnataka cuisine, South Karnataka, Kodagu, Udupi, Mangalorean, North Canara and Navayath cuisine have something to offer to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Local ingredients are used while cooking most of the delicacies. The traditional cooking style of Karnataka uses coconut and coconut oil alongside local spices and curry leaves. Ghee is used on special occasions and festivals. Read about more Karnataka on cozycozy

There are lots of other delicious Karnataka foods you must try, such as kane rava fry (crispy fried fish fried with semolina) or puli kodel (a Mangalorean light stew). But, if we’ve missed any of your favourites, be sure to share them in the comments below.

Also Read: A Travel Guide Of Amazing Places To See In Karnataka

What is the state food of Karnataka?

While there’s no official state food, Bisi bele bhath is a classic dish from Karnataka that is most popular. Bisi bele bhat is basically a blend of rice, lentils, assorted vegetables and spices.

What is Karnataka famous for?

The ruins of Hampi and other tourist destinations, exquisite cuisine, Mysore silk and wooden toys from Channapatna are some of the popular things Karnataka is renowned for.

What is the main food of Karnataka?

Staple foods in Karnataka include dosa, idli, types of ‘bhat’, ragi balls and jowar rotis.

What is Bangalore famous for in food?

Idlis, vadas, chaats, kababs, rolls, and mangalore buns are some of the few things that Bangalore is most famous for.

How to find places to stay in Karnataka?

Cozycozy is the place you where you can look for options to stay in Karnataka.

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