Many years ago, while I was in school, my family and I moved to Bangalore. It was a big change for us – the language, the culture, the people and the food, having come from a city in north India. We were put up in a hotel for a month, and that is where I would take my packed lunch to school from. I LOVED the food…had never heard of Tamarind rice, Bisi Bele Bhaath, Uppittu (which turned out to be Upma), Chitrana, Guliappa and so many delicious varieties to choose from. As we gradually settled and mingled with people, we tried to imbibe the culture, pick up the language (a bit…at least the basic courtesies) and learn how to cook the delectable cuisine of Karnataka.
Some of my food memories in Bangalore are of the various sub-regional food I tasted during our travels or with friends at their homes. Karnataka’s vast culinary heritage encompasses the earthy flavours of North Karnataka, traditional feast of South Karnataka, spicy dishes of the coastal region (Mangalore) and Kodava cuisines. There is more…Karnataka also boasts of Udipi, Malnadu, Kodagu, Mangalorean and Navayath cuisines. Regional food habits are defined by the locally available produce/ ingredients leading to a large variety for us to choose from.
Without further ado, here are my very favourites from the beautiful state of Karnataka:
Kosambri – a salad with many variations, but most popularly made with grated carrot and soaked moong (yellow) lentils. Kosambri has a unique, tangy flavor, which comes from the combination of coconut, lemon, chili and seeds fried in oil. You can also add soaked chana dal to it.
Palyas – They are warm vegetable salads made out of parboiled vegetables chopped fine and tossed with desiccated coconut, green chillies, curry leaves and mustard seasoning…in fact a blend of a warm salad and a stir-fry.
Saaru – One of my all time favourites and a very regular feature in the menu – saaru or rasam is traditionally prepared using tamarind juice as a base, with the addition of tomato, chili pepper, pepper, cumin and other spices as seasonings. Steamed lentils are added along with any preferred vegetables! I like to make my masala fresh at home, but you get excellent pre-packed rasam powder as well.
Gojju – Gojju is a Kannada name and is a spice paste/concentrate consisting of tamarind, jaggery, dry coconut, sesame, oil and plethora of spices. It has a balanced taste of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, but in concentrated form. This is treated more like a pickle and is eaten only in spoonfuls. The common way to eat this is by mixing a spoonful of Gojju along with warm cooked rice. Cook your vegetables in this and make a variety of Gojjus.
The Baths – mostly rice, sometimes semolina but deliciousness!!!
and finally, the desserts
I sincerely hope some of these recipes would form part of your menu very soon. I am looking forward to trying out the new recipes. The good part is that they are simple and quick to make…a big, huge incentive for me. Before I sign off, I must mention some beautiful blogs that I have referenced these recipes from. The very talented Anu Nagaraja’s blog – Easybites Online, Smitha Kalluraya’s Cook with Smile, Sia’s Monsoon Spice, Kaveri Ponappa’s the Coorg Table, Chinmayie’s Love, Food, Eat and Radhika’s Just Homemade.
Enjoy reading about the lovely cuisine form Karnataka, if cooking isn’t your thing! If it is, try to give the recipes your spin and have fun while cooking!
Cover Image: via