21 Food Items That You Must Try in Karnataka

Welcome to a gastronomic adventure through the flavors of Karnataka! In this blog, we'll take you on a delectable journey exploring must-try cuisines that define the culinary landscape of this vibrant Indian state. Karnataka offers a diverse and flavorful array of delicacies that reflect its rich cultural heritage and culinary traditions. Whether you're a food enthusiast looking to discover new flavors or simply curious about Karnataka's culinary delights, get ready to tantalize your taste buds with these mouth-watering dishes!

best foods to eat in karnataka

So, sit back, relax, and let's delve into the irresistible flavors of Karnataka's must-try cuisines!

1. Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa is a beloved South Indian dish that consists of a thin, crispy crepe made from fermented rice and lentil batter. The batter is spread thinly on a hot griddle, creating a golden-brown surface. Inside, it's filled with a spiced potato mixture, typically containing onions, mustard seeds, turmeric, and other flavorful ingredients. This dish is often served with coconut chutney, tangy sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew), and a side of spicy tomato chutney for a perfect balance of flavours.

2. Bisi Bele Bath

Bisi Bele Bath is a comforting and flavorful rice dish that originates from Karnataka. It's prepared by cooking rice and lentils together with a medley of vegetables like carrots, peas, beans, and potatoes. The key to its deliciousness lies in the special spice blend known as Bisi Bele Bath powder, which includes ingredients like coriander seeds, red chilies, fenugreek, cinnamon, cloves, and more. The resulting dish is aromatic, mildly spicy, and incredibly satisfying, often garnished with fried cashews and fresh coriander leaves.

Bisi bele bhath is a spicy, rice-based dish eaten with Kara Boondi.

3. Mysore Pak

Mysore Pak is a traditional sweet treat that hails from the city of Mysore in Karnataka. It's made from a few simple ingredients – gram flour (besan), ghee (clarified butter), and sugar – but the magic lies in the technique of cooking and the proportions used. The result is a dense, fudge-like sweet that melts in your mouth, leaving behind a rich, buttery flavour. It's often served as a dessert during festivals and special occasions, symbolising the sweetness of celebrations.

4. Akki Roti

Thalipattu or Akki Rotti is made of rice flour high is mixed with salt and water and kneaded well till the dough gets soft. Sliced onions and carrots, chopped dill leaves, coriander, cumin seeds and sesame seeds are added while kneading the dough. Eaten along with chutney.

Akki Roti is a unique flatbread made from rice flour, finely chopped onions, green chilies, coriander leaves, and sometimes grated coconut. Unlike the traditional wheat-based roti, Akki Roti has a distinct texture and flavour due to the rice flour. It's usually cooked on a hot griddle with a little oil until crispy and golden brown. This wholesome and gluten-free dish is commonly enjoyed with a variety of accompaniments such as spicy chutneys, yoghurt, or even a non-vegetarian curry for a hearty meal.

5. Coorg Pandi Curry

Coorg Pandi Curry is a spicy and flavorful pork curry that originates from the Coorg region of Karnataka. What sets this dish apart is the use of Coorg's signature spices such as black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, and Coorg vinegar, which gives it a unique tangy flavour. The pork is marinated in these spices and slow-cooked until tender, resulting in a rich and aromatic curry that pairs beautifully with steamed rice or traditional Coorgi breads like Kadambuttu or Akki Roti.

6. Neer Dosa

Neer Dosa is a delicacy from Tulu region and part of Udupi - Mangalorean cuisine. Neer dosa is another popular breakfast of coastal Karnataka. It is made of rice flour. It is served with curry and chutney. The dosa has a thin and white texture.

Neer Dosa, literally meaning "water dosa," is a thin, delicate crepe made from a batter of soaked rice blended with coconut and water. Unlike the fermented dosa batter, Neer Dosa batter requires no fermentation, making it quick and easy to prepare. The resulting dosa is soft, lacy, and mildly sweet, perfect for pairing with coconut chutney, vegetable curries, or even a sweet filling like jaggery and grated coconut for a delightful contrast of flavors.

7. Mangalorean Fish Curry

Mangalorean Fish Curry is a coastal delicacy that highlights Karnataka's love for seafood. Fresh fish, often varieties like pomfret, kingfish, or mackerel, are cooked in a tangy and spicy coconut-based curry. The key ingredients include coconut milk, tamarind for tanginess, and a blend of aromatic spices such as coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and red chilies. The result is a lip-smacking curry that captures the essence of coastal Karnataka's culinary traditions.

8. Ragi Mudde

Ragi Mudde is a traditional Karnataka dish made from finger millet flour (ragi flour) and water. It's a staple food in many parts of Karnataka, especially in rural areas. The ragi flour is cooked with water to form a thick, dough-like consistency, which is then shaped into round balls or dumplings. Ragi Mudde is typically enjoyed with spicy curries like sambar or rasam, providing a nutritious and filling meal that's also gluten-free and high in fibre.

Ragi mudde is an iconic dish of Karnataka along with Jolada Rotti. Ragi mudde, a store house of multi nutrients, has only two ingredients, the Ragi flour and water. Best with Sabsige Soppu Saaru and Majjige Saaru (butter milk sambar).

9. Udupi Sambar

Udupi Sambar is a flavorful and tangy lentil-based curry that originated in the Udupi region of Karnataka, known for its vegetarian cuisine. The sambar is made with a variety of vegetables like drumsticks, pumpkin, brinjal, and beans, cooked with a blend of spices including coriander, fenugreek, turmeric, and tamarind for tanginess. What sets Udupi Sambar apart is the absence of onions and garlic, making it suitable for those following a strict vegetarian or Sattvic diet. It's often served with steamed rice, idli, dosa, or vada for a wholesome meal experience.

10. Karadantu

Karadantu means fried-edible gum in the local language. It is made of edible gum mixed with dry fruits and has a chewy texture. The other ingredients used in its preparation are fried bengal gram flour, jaggery and seeds of marking-nut tree. Gokak is very famous for Karadant. Amingad town in Bagalkot district is also famous for the Karadantu produced in its sweet shops.

11. Gasagase Payasa

Gasagase Payasa is an all-time favourite sweet for kannadigas. The poppy seeds are ground along with rice and simmered in milk till it thickens and garnished with hot toasted cashew nuts and raisins with ghee.

12. Pathrode

Pathrode or patrode is a very tasty snacks or breakfast recipe prepared using rice and colocasia leaves. Pathrode or patrode is also familiar by name patra vadi or patra vada. Patrōḍe is made from Colocasia leaves, which grows abundantly in rainy season. Layers of masala, with or without Jaggery, is applied between Colocasia leaves, which is rolled and cooked.

13. Gojju

Pineapple Gojju is a sweet and spicy, tangy curry made using pineapples, typical to Karnataka. It is a festive dish and served during weddings and other celebrations when a traditional meal is served on a banana lead. Kumbalkai gojju is made from cooked pumpkin, coconut, red chili, sesame seeds and roasted gram.

14. Maddur vada

Maddur vada derives its name from the town of Maddur which is in the Mandya district of Karnataka. It is made of rice flour, semolina and maida flour which are mixed with sliced onion, curry leaves and grated coconut.

15. Tambli

Tambli, being a curd based cuisine, is consumed with rice. Tambli is derived from Kannada word thampu.

16. Saṇḍige

Saṇḍige are a deep fried Papad like crispy snacks that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Usually it is made from rice or tapioca. They are prepared in summer, dried and stored for later use. They can be eaten as a snack or a side dish in meals. Saṇḍige is a comfort food for many people.

17. Ottu Shavige

In Karnataka, authentic ottu shavige or akki shavige is prepared by grinding the soaked rice. The rice batter is half cooked, dumplings are steamed and then finally pressed using the noodles mould (shavige mane).

18. Rave Unde

Rave Unde, one of the popular sweet in Karnataka. It is made of fine semolina (rava), dried coconut and sugar. milk and ghee are two ingredients often used to bind the mixture together.

19. Mandakki Oggarane

Mandalu/mandakki Oggarane is a very famous popular snack and breakfast dish in the North Karnataka region. Mandakki Oggarane is served with Mirchi or menasinakayi bajji. It’s taste enhances with thile saaru (rasam) on it with kadle pudi (roasted channa dhal chutney) above it. Nargis Mandakki is a very popular mandakki recipe from davangere.

20. Chiroti

Chiroti is prepared by rolling out kneaded dough made of maida into layered circular shapes and then deep frying in ghee or refined oil. The outcome resembles a semi golden brown fluffy poori, which is then sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar and optionally grated almond and cashew. Add milk to it and enjoy chiroti.

21. Holige/Obbattu

Holige or Obbattu is a traditional stuffed flatbread that's enjoyed as a dessert or snack in Karnataka. The outer layer is made from wheat flour or maida (all-purpose flour), while the filling can vary from sweetened lentils (dal), coconut, jaggery, to dry fruits and nuts. The dough is rolled out, stuffed with the filling, and then cooked on a griddle with ghee until golden and crispy. Holige/Obbattu is often served warm with a drizzle of ghee or a scoop of ice cream for an indulgent treat that's perfect for festivals and special occasions.

Holige Saaru is a type of Rasam which is made from the left over filling of obbattu and rasam powder to make a delicious tasting saaru. It is often prepared along with obbattu which is a sweet paratha and is equally like by everyone.

Bele holige or bele obbattu is prepared using chana dal or toor dal. In Karnataka bele holige recipe varies from region to region and is best with mavina shekarne (mango shake). Kayi holige or kayi obbattu or coconut poli is prepared using maida flour. Bili holige is very popular breakfast recipe in Karnataka.

Final Thoughts

The blog explores Karnataka's rich culinary heritage, highlighting 10 must-try cuisines that showcase the state's diverse flavours and traditions. It begins with the iconic Masala Dosa, a crispy crepe filled with spiced potato masala, and goes on to feature dishes like Bisi Bele Bath, a flavorful rice and lentil dish, and Mysore Pak, a sweet treat from Mysore. Other highlights include Akki Roti, Coorg Pandi Curry, Neer Dosa, Mangalorean Fish Curry, Ragi Mudde, Udupi Sambar, and Holige/Obbattu, each offering a unique taste experience.

Kalyan Panja