With Karnataka’s diverse topography, the food habits of different regions bring an interesting element to the state’s cuisines. With a vast coast line, rain forest areas and plains, Karnataka cuisine has a lot of influences. The bordering states of Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh also influence the cooking techniques and types of ingredients used.
Karnataka has many vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, often accompanied by rice. Popular dishes include Bisi bele bath, Jolada rotti, Ragi rotti, Akki rotti, Saaru, Idli, Vangi Bath, Khara Bath, Kesari Bath, Davanagere Benne Dosa, Ragi mudde and Uppittu. Variations of these can be experienced in different regions.
While some basic dishes are common to all regions it is the region specific delights that you should be looking for when travelling to the state. The three main areas which are sure to take you for a gastronomical ride are Mysore, Coorg and Bangalore.
Coorg is known for its copious amounts of alcohol and meat products in daily use. If you are foodie, this place is sure to delight you. Pandi Karri (Pork dish), Koli Saaru (Chicken dish), Meenu Saaru (Fish Dish) are dishes that you will encounter often. Coorgis often use traditional styles of cooking. Their love for food is enormous and one can see that in all local festivals, marriages and family events. Try the Kabadu dish which is eaten with the curries.
They also use bamboo shoot and mushrooms in their food which is seen sparingly in India. Try arriving in Coorg around the Kailpoldu festival when culinary skills are spruced up and every kitchen is pulsating with activity.
Mysore and surrounding areas is yet another region which is known for its fabulous food. The south Karnataka region emphasises more on staple grains like bajra and jowar. This region is known for its vegetarian dishes. Meals consist of Ragi mudde, Saaru, Rice and Yogurt. A salad called Kosambari (pictured below) which is prepared using simple ingredients such as lentils, green chillies and finely chopped coriander, and various Palyas (fried, boiled or sauteed spicy vegetables) are quite famous.
Bangalore also lies in South Karnataka and traditionally serves up dishes like Mysore although this kind of food is fast disappearing from the house-holds. Being a cosmopolitan city, the dishes in Bangalore have a lot of modern infusion in the food creating some varied and unusual dishes.
Certain traditional foods however will always remain part of the Bangalore kitchens; namely Shenga chutney, mosaru, kempu and heavy use of vegetables.
PANDI (PORK) CURRY
This spicy pork curry is typical to Coorg. It is normally served with rice.
1 Kg Pork (2 Lbs)
1tsp Turmeric power
1tsp Cumin Seeds
8-10 Small Onions or 2 big onions
10-15 cloves of Garlic
3-4 Green Chills
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
2 tbs Cumin Power
Salt to taste
Preparation: After washing the pork well and draining all the water off it, marinate the pork for 10-15 minutes with salt, red chilly power or pepper and turmeric. While this is being done, blend the green chillies, onions, ginger and a few cumin seeds. After this, fry the cumin powder until it turns darkish brown, and then add mustard and the rest of the cumin seeds. Fry this for a few minutes. Now add the marinated pork to the blended onion mixture and cook for a while. Add the fried condiments and cook on low flame for a few minutes till the pork is cooked. Add vinegar to the dish and serve with rice.
Homestays offer fantastic home cooked cuisine for guests and hosts are happy to share recipes and even show you some of the cooking techniques.
Related links and articles of interest
Karnataka Destination Guide
Activities to try in a homestay: Indian cookery
South Indian Vegetable and Coconut Curry
Karnataka tourism – places to see and explore
Places in Coorg
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