On our way back after a stay in a verdant organic farm in Sullia, we stopped for a day in Mangalore to explore what we could in 24 hours. While I would be writing about Sullia as well Mangalore in the following posts, let me focus on food first. I’ve always enjoyed Karnataka cuisine for its flavours and varieties, and Mangalore was no different. In fact food in Mangalore goes beyond the regular varieties of idli and dosas even for vegetarians like me. If you are in Mangalore next time, do sample these traditional delicacies.
Mangalore buns: This was a true delight to the taste buds. These buns are not baked but are deep fried. Ripe bananas mixed with the dough lend it a mildly sweet taste. These airy, light and fluffy banana puris are served with coconut chutney and sambar. We had this for dinner at a restaurant called Chutney (Hotel Deepa Comforts) and also when are bus stopped enroute Pune.
This popular Mangalorean snack is an equivalent of a kachori, crisp on the outside and with stuffing inside. The stuffing was made of fried and flavoured grated coconut. We had this as part of our breakfast at New Taj Mahal café.
Plantain leaf steamed idlis
Instead of steaming batter in regular idli moulds, the batter is poured into a banana leaf rolled into the shape of a cylindrical holder and then steamed. It was fun to unroll the banana leaf and then dig into cylindrical idlis. We had this too as part of our breakfast at New Taj Mahal café.
These are fritters or vadas made from ground black gram batter. It reminded me of medu vadas but in a spherical form. It was absolutely delicious, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and bursting with flavours of curry leaves, green chillies, ginger and black pepper.
This is a melt in the mouth soft dosa with a silky smooth texture. As opposed to the regular dosas made out of rice and black gram, this dosa uses only rice and coconut. This was served with coconut chutney too. Wish restaurants in Pune served this too. This one is surely on my try-out list.
These are scrumptious but very oily banana fritters or bhajjis. This is made from the delicious Nenthra pazham abundant in coastal Kerala and Karnataka. I’ve had this in Kerala and my grandma used to make this too.
Pabba’s ice creams
Ice-creams, need I say more. But the specialty of Pabba’s is in the variety of flavours and sundaes and milk shakes they come up with. We had the special Gadbad sundae, which had scoops of butterscotch, strawberry and vanilla ice cream interspersed with layers of jelly and dry fruit. Another one we tried was Pabba’s special where we chose the chikku, butterscotch and roasted flavours topped with black currant, chocolate, honey and dry fruits. Need I say they were lip-smacking!!
If you’ve never tasted this variety of banana, make sure you do in Mangalore. It is typically longer than the green bananas with a fruit that has a slight orange and peach tint of colour. This banana is used for making fritters/bhajjis, halva and even kheer/payasam.
The bright yellow of the coconuts on the road side caught my attention. Although I was told that the taste of the coconut water would be no different from the green ones, I still wanted to taste it for the colour J And I did, and you may too if you like yellow!
I never miss a chance to wash down my food with a steaming cup of filter coffee and there were plenty in Mangalore. Coffee tastes as delicious from a cup and saucer as in a traditional tumbler and bowl !
We spilt our breakfast, lunch and dinner between two restaurants. One was Chutney, in Hotel Deepa Comforts on MG Road. The place is air-conditioned which could be important as Mangalore could get very sultry. The other restaurant was New Taj Mahal cafe in Kodailbail. It's a no-frill restaurant where there is no menu card. On zomato.com , people had reviewed the waiters as being very rude, but luckily our waiter was very sweet and even gave suggestions and explained the dishes. I had done some research on traditional Mangalorean cuisine so I knew what to ask for. Or else they would just recommend dosa and idli in the absence of a menu card. Other recommendations for traditional vegetarian Mangalorean cuisine which we got from the locals but couldn't visit were Janata Deluxe, Woodlands, Ayodhya and Kudla Rasa Prakash! Will surely visit these on my next trip if there is!!