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Flavors of South India: Karnataka


Karnataka is a South Indian state that shares many dishes and flavors with neighboring states. Karnataka is most famous for its dosas, neer dosa only being one of the many kinds you’ll find there. With balanced breakfasts, delicious dinners and savory sweets, there’s plenty to love about these dishes.

Bendekayi Gojju

Bendekayi gojju is an okra curry. Urad dal (split black lentils), chana dal (split yellow chickpeas), fenugreek seeds, sesame seeds, dried red chilies, and curry leaves are roasted in a pan with oil. All of the roasted spices are added to a grinder with fresh coconut and water in order to be ground into a smooth paste. Mustard seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, dried red chili, and okra are stir-fried. Tamarind extract, jaggery, salt, and turmeric powder are added to the pan and mixed. All of the ingredients are boiled after adding the masala paste and water. Serve this curry with rice or chapati. 


Chiroti is a delicious, flaky pastry popular in Karnataka. To make chiroti. flour, semolina, ghee, salt, and water are kneaded into a soft dough. The dough is separated into balls and each one is rolled out. The flattened balls of dough are layered onto each other with a paste made of mixed ghee and flour spread between each layer. Once all of the dough is layered, it’s rolled into one long strip. The strip is then cut into individual pastries. Each pastry is fried and topped with powdered sugar. 

Kesari Bath

Kesari bath is a popular Indian dessert. Water, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and turmeric powder are added to a pot and brought to a boil. Cashews, raisins, and semolina are sautéed with ghee in a pan. The boiling water is slowly poured into the pan, then stirred until the mixture reaches a thick consistency.  Kesari bath is often served during Hindu festivals, or it can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert.

Khara Pongal


Similar to Tamil Nadu, where Pongal originated, khara pongal is another popular breakfast or snack for Kannadigas. Khara Pongal, also known as ven pongal, is made by boiling rice and moong dal (split mung beans) in water. Cumin seeds, minced ginger, green chilies, black peppercorn, curry leaves, asafoetida, and split cashews are sautéed in ghee. Once the rice and moong dal are fully cooked, the sautéed ingredients are added and mixed with the rice and lentils. Serve this for breakfast with sambar and coconut chutney. 

Mavinakayi Chutney

Mavinakayi chutney is a raw mango chutney. The mango is peeled and grated. Red chilies, urad dal (split black lentils), mustard seeds, and coriander seeds are roasted before being added to the grated mango and freshly grated coconut. All of the ingredients are ground into a fine paste. To finish off the chutney, a tadka—or spice blend—of roasted red chili, mustard seeds, and curry leaves are placed on top. Pair mango chutney with steamed rice, dosa, idli, chapati, or as a side to your favorite Indian curry.

Motte Saaru

Motte saaru is a delicious egg curry. The eggs are hard-boiled and the shells are removed. Mustard, cumin, fenugreek, and fennel seeds are roasted in a pan, along with cloves, star anise, cinnamon, bay leaf, asafoetida, and black and green cardamom. Chopped onion and tomato, green chilies, and curry leaves are added to the pan. A ginger-garlic paste is ground from fresh coconut, coriander leaves, and red chili, turmeric, coriander, and garam masala powder. Water and the ginger-garlic paste are added to the pan of sautéing ingredients, then the mixture is brought to a boil. The hard-boiled eggs, more garam masala powder, and coriander leaves are added and simmered with the curry before serving it with rice. 

Neer Dosa

Neer dosa originated from the Tulu Nadu region of Karnataka and it’s included in Mangalorean cuisine. Neer dosa is simpler to make than other dosas because the rice only has to soak for five hours. Once the rice has finished soaking in water, the rice is blended into a batter. Water is added to the batter to create a thin consistency. The batter is cooked in a pan to create the dosa. Neer dosa is frequently eaten with chutney for breakfast, but it can also be paired with vegetable sagu or other dishes throughout the day. 

Nimbehannu Chitranna


Chitranna is a breakfast staple in Kannadiga households. The most popular version of chitranna is nimbehannu chitranna, also known as lemon rice. Mustard seeds, chana dal (split yellow chickpeas), urad dal, and peanuts are roasted in oil. Turmeric powder, fresh coconut, asafoetida, dry red chilies, curry leaves, and onions are added and sautéed with the other ingredients. Cooked rice and lemon juice are added to the pan of sautéed ingredients. The chitranna is garnished with coriander leaves and ready to be served for breakfast, lunch, or as a side dish.

Pori Urundai

Another popular sweet from Karnataka is pori urundai. It is frequently served during Marthigai Deepam, a three-day Hindu festival celebrated in South India.Ghee, coconut, and sesame seeds are roasted, then added to a bowl of puffed rice. Jaggery is melted into a syrup and boiled until it thickens. The bowl with the puffed rice is poured into a bowl with the jaggery syrup. Using the syrup to stick the rice together, the ingredients are shaped into balls. 

Vegetable Sagu

There are many variations of vegetable sagu and the recipe can be tailored to personal preferences. Any pairing of mixed vegetables can be used to make this dish. The mixed vegetables are cooked until they turn soft. Fresh coconut, ginger, garlic, gloves, green chilies, cinnamon, cardamom, and cumin, poppy, and coriander seeds are ground into a paste. Mustard seeds, urad dal, and curry leaves are roasted in a pan before adding chopped onion and tomato. Then, the cooked vegetables, masala paste, and water are added to the pan. The ingredients are mixed and brought to a boil. Vegetable sagu is often served with puri, chapati, or dosa.


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Tags: India food Karnataka South India Recipes


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