Conversations about Udupi food are usually limited to idli-sambhar, masala dosas and sheera but this cuisine style is actually much more varied than this. The cuisine takes its name from the city of Udupi in the Tulunadu region. It is focused on whole grains, legumes and locally available, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Many dishes have evolved along with the traditions of chaaturmasa vrata – a season when the consumption of certain food groups is restricted. Now, everyone’s heard of idlis, sambhar, vadas, and dosas, here are a few unique Udupi dishes you should try.
7 Lip Smacking Udupi Food
- Kaddubu or Moode
Kaddubu or Moode can be described as cylindrical idlis steamed in jackfruit, banana, turmeric, teak or pandan leaves. The leaves give the dish a distinctive taste and aroma. There’s an art to making the Kaddubu mold out of these leaves. Moode often finds itself on the menu during festive celebrations and breakfasts for special occasions. They may be served with curries, chutneys and a drizzle of ghee on top.
2. Goli Baje
Goli Baje or Mangalore Bonda or Mangalore Bajji are popular snacks. It’s a signature Udupi dish made with rice flour, maida, curd, green chillies and ginger. This deep-fried snack is crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. Paired with tomato, onion or pudina chutney, these Goli Baje are ideal as an accompaniment to a cup of evening tea.
3. Mangalore Buns
Mangalore buns may be sweet or savory. They are called buns but look nothing like the bread buns you’re used to. While the look of a Mangalore bun may be comparable to kachoris, these deep-fried buns have a distinctive taste. The use of overripe bananas to make the batter gives these buns a subtly sweet taste. Mangalore buns can be served with milk for breakfast or accompanied by chutney for a snack.
Pathrade is a laborious cook but the flavors are just rewards. The dish is made with shredded cocolcasia leaves smeared with a rice and black gram paste, steamed and then fried. It is served in its dry and curried form. The art of making pathrade starts with choosing the right leaves. There are many versions of the paste itself but the Udupi version gets its characteristic taste from the blend of local lentils and spices.
5. Pelakaida Gatti or Pelakaida Gatti
Jackfruit is a popular ingredient in Udupi food. Its served for breakfast and sometimes even for lunch. The dish is typically made by steaming a batter made with rice, jackfruit and fresh coconut in an envelope made out of teak leaves. If teak leaves aren’t available, they may be substituted with plantain leaves. Pelakaida Gatti doesn’t need much else to accompany it – a little ghee smeared on the top or honey may be just the perfect finishing touch.
6. Udhina Gojju
While some dishes are labor-intensive, others like Udhina gojju are quick and easy yet packed with flavor. This Udupi delicacy is made with raw urad dal, white pumpkin and buttermilk as the key ingredients. A variation of this dish without buttermilk is known as kumbla kai sandige. Udhina gojju is best served with steamed rice.
The use of white pumpkin Udupi recipes is quite notable. In fact, the cuisine uses every part of this vegetable. It is cooked in both savory and sweet ways.
7. Pelakai Halwa
This Udupi dessert is made with jackfruit at its core. It’s a seasonal breakfast or snack made by steaming ground jackfruit, rice, and jaggery in banana or teak leaves. The taste is dependent on the proportions of ingredients as well as the leaf used to hold the paste. It can be served hot or cold.
Finding the Right Udupi Restaurant
Udupi restaurants can be easily found in any city especially those in Karnataka. While most Udupis serve the regular idli-dosa fare, you may have to look a little deeper to find any of these dishes. Udupis with names suffixed by Kamat, Shanbhag or Pai are more likely to be authentic as compared to others.
Restaurants with such names can usually trace their lineage back to the temple town of Udupi and hence will offer the most authentic versions of Udupi cuisine.