- Karnataka has plenty of seasonal vegetable-based foods
- Fire Ant chutney is a must try if you like spices
- If you’re in Mangalore, don’t miss out on the Gadbad ice-cream
When it comes to food in Karnataka, idlis and dosas are the most well-known. Other dishes like Bisi bele bath and Neer dosas are also slowly becoming known. However, this isn’t all Karnataka has to offer. Almost every district of this state offers something unique for your plate. Here’s a sample of some of the lesser known foods from Karnataka you could expect.
Lesser Known Foods from Karnataka -Chutneys
Chigli chutney is nothing like the normal pudina chutneys or coconut chutneys that you might have tasted. This is made from red fire ants. It’s spicy with a tangy bite and best eaten with rotis made from rice. The ant nests are harvested before sunrise and the live ants and larvae are then roasted with salt for the chutney. They are then ground with garlic, onion, coconut, spices and chilli. This winter delicacy is rich in proteins and believed to have the ability to cure pneumonia, coughs, colds and the flu.
When the Iduga’s moved from Andhra Pradesh to Karnataka, they infused Karnataka food with their flavours. Batti chutney is another non-vegetarian chutney made from the goat’s spleen and liver. These gummy meatballs are an excellent bar snack.
This is a tangy chutney made with raw mango. This is tempered with coconut, spices and fried urad dal. The last ingredient gives the chutney its unique taste. Mavinakai chutney is a seasonal dish made only during the summer. It goes well with steamed rice and neer dosas.
Lesser Known Foods from Karnataka -Snacks
Kardantu in Kannada means fried edible gum. Two places in Karnataka known for this are Gokak and Amingad. Both use different ingredients and hence while the taste may be similar, it is never the same. Kardantu is a popular tea-time snack and the desi-equivalent of an energy bar. Some of the things you might find in it include pistachios, cashew nuts, figs, dates, almonds, jaggery, coconut and edible gum.
Puffed rice is a common base for snacks in Karnataka. It is usually tossed with peanuts and spices. In some parts of Dharwad, you can find a different type of puffed rice snack known as Susheela or Allu Susla. This is made up of puffed rice that has been lightly soaked and then tossed with poha and seasonings.
Kismuri is a delicious salad made from beetroots, carrots, yam and banana stem. The vegetables are parboiled and then mixed with sliced onions and tempered with urad dal, mustard, green chilli, curry leaves and yoghurt. Finally, it’s topped with fried papad.
Lesser Known Foods from Karnataka – Non-veg Specialties
Coorg is known for its array of pork dishes. One of the lesser known amongst them is Vonekk Yerchi. This is a smoked pork dish made by curing meat for several months over a hearth. The meat is then shredded and stir-fried.
Kalees Ankiti translates to liver-intestines. As the name suggests, this dish is made out of pig liver, intestines and other organ meats. It is a laborious dish to cook and not very easily available. This rustic version of a sorpotel goes well with savoury rice cakes known as sannas.
As the name suggests, blood is the chief ingredient of Rakti. This is an important part of the Sauji’s- a martial Hindu class- Dusshera celebration. The blood is simmered for hours with spices till it is thickened and browned. Jowar rotis are the most common accompaniment for this dish.
Lesser Known Foods from Karnataka -Veg Specialities
Gojju is basically a Karnataka style curry with spicy, sweet and sour flavours- some may even call it a chutney. There are many variants to this dish. Some of the most popular variants are those cooked with mango and pineapple, tomatoes, okra and tamarind. The dish is served hot and is a lip-smacking accompaniment to steamed rice.
Tindli Moi is a popular Mangalorean dish made using tindli or ivy gourd. This is a simple dish that is stir-fried with raw cashew and topped with freshly grated coconut. It’s a great side dish for a fish curry-rice meal.
Karchikayi is a small pod-like vegetable that grows in the Hubli-Dharwad region on creepers that are infested with scorpions. Apart from it is seasonal availability, another peculiarity of this vegetable is that it must be cooked and eaten on the same day that it is harvested. This vegetable is usually stir-fried or cooked into a palya.
Lesser Known Foods from Karnataka – Sweets
Halasina Yele Chilmi
This is a unique steamed dessert made with rice past, coconut and jaggery in cones made out of jackfruit leaves. To make this dessert, jackfruit leaves are first shaped into cones and the insides are smeared with rice paste. A coconut and jaggery mixture is then poured into these moulds and it is sealed with more rice paste. The cones are then steamed until the coconut-jaggery mixture cooks.
Mandige were traditionally available only during weddings and festive occasions but today, these delicate sweets are available all through the year. It can be described as a very thin crepe with a sugar and ghee filling. To make it, a sweetened dough is rolled out into very thin rotis and cooked over a spherical pot. The filling is put over the rotis and as it cooks, it is folded into neat parcels. They can be eaten on their own or crushed and eaten with milk.
If you like ice-creams, this unique ice-cream is a must try. It is available only in Mangalore at Ideal ice-creams. The sundae has three ice cream flavours- Kesar, strawberry and vanilla in a tall glass. Along with ice-creams, it also has a thin jelly layer, dry fruits and cherries. This sundae is named Gadbad because gadidbidi in Kannada means mistakes.