How much do you know about Kannadiga food? It could be a good day to find out. After all, it is Ugadi, and most Kannadiga homes would have put together a lavish feast, albeit vegetarian, with local specialties finding an extra room in the thali. But not without having a taste of the traditional bevu bella (a mix of neem and jaggery) first thing in the morning. The bevu bella is not made without a reason – it is to remind us that life is a combination of bitter and sweet experiences, and we have to take both in equal measures.
Equally important is the obbattu or holige (puran poli to others). It is one of the most loved offerings, not only to the God, but is even served at weddings.
However, if you are too lazy to cook your own Ugadi meal, here are a few places you can check out delicious vegetarian food from different parts of Karnataka:
Dakshin at ITC Windsor is laying it out for you with a special celebratory meal. Begin with majjige (buttermilk tempered with mustard, curry leaves, and red chillies), assorted vadas, kadle gojju (traditional preparation with black chickpeas), kootu saaru (a curry of mixed vegetables cooked in coconut, lentils, and tempered with garlic), the hookosu khara palya (a spicy and tangy cauliflower preparation), and of course the obbattu (flour pancakes stuffed with lentils and jaggery, and roasted with ghee).
Karavalli at The Gateway Hotel is not far off either. A traditional meal, served on a banana leaf awaits you. While the delicious main-course comes with traditional delicacies including kalu usli (sprouts tempered with Mangalorean masala); and southekayi pachadi (Mangalorean cucumber cooked with curd and grounded coconut), guests can also savour other Mangalorean delicacies such as the ananas saasive (sweet & sour pineapple curry with a tempering of mustard); and dal thove (traditional lentil tempered with mustard, chilly, ginger and curry leaves). The delectable desserts include kadle bele payasa (split Bengal gram cooked with jaggery and coconut milk); and kadubu (steamed flat rice cake filled with a mixture of grated coconut, sweetened with jiggery, and flavored with cardamom).
Latitude at Vivanta by Taj-Whitefield is also hosting an Ugadi special meal, where you can try puliogare, obbattu, sakre pongal, saggubiyyam payasam, and medu vada, among others.
Naati Manae in Koramangala is yet another place you can check out for traditional Kannadiga food. And, while this place is great for its non-vegetarian food, we are staying off it for the day. Check out the ‘nammuru vita’ or rather the limited thali that comes with rasam, sambhar, pappu, palya, rice, and curd. And, if you are feeling adventurous, try the ragi balls, with a vegetarian curry of course!
And then, there is Halli Mane in Malleshwaram. The food here is served on banana leaves, and while the thali might be an odd combination of North and South Indian food, you can perhaps go for akki roti with coconut chutney, ragi roti, dal or coconut holige from the menu.
How about some benne dosa this Ugadi, instead of the usual meal that is? One of the best places to check out in that case is Sri Guru Kottureshwara Davangere Benne Dosa at Basavanagudi. It is considered to be one of the best places to eat benne dosa (butter dosa) that comes with potatoes, and coconut chutney.
And finally, Hotel Nalapaka in Rajajinagar is where you ought to go to taste traditional North Karnataka meals. The roti meal includes jolada rotti (rotis made of jowar), pundi palya, thalipet, akki rotti, biranji rice, holige, and paddu.
Okay, that is a lot of food for one day!
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Priyadarshini is an independent journalist from Bengaluru whose life pretty much revolves around food, good music, literature, and cinema. She’s worked with different publications over the past 10 years, and has written about travel, theatre, films, books, music, food and lots of food! She’s travelled wherever her feet and budget would allow, discovering cultures through local palates and social behaviour, and in an ideal world would probably resort to using food and music to resolve any dispute.