There's a reason why the pure vegetarian cuisine of Udupi can satisfy even the most radical foodie. The food is meant to entice little Krishna of Udupi Sri Krishna temple into residing there forever. Incidentally, the traditional preparations and their spin offs offered to the deity at the temple has caught the fancy of the culinary world, evolving over the years into the most widely relished South Indian dishes. From the very typical Udupi dosa to bisibelabath, Udupi is synonymous with the most inviting vegetarian cuisine of South India.
Dosa eaters around the world often mistake Udupi to be a kind of restaurant serving delicious low budget vegetarian food. The idea of a simple, quick, and clean meal is perhaps the most alluring aspect about Udupi hotels. Little do they realise that much thought has gone into the making of the minimalist cooking style of this city in coastal Karnataka.
The singular feature of Udupi food is its 'satwik' quality. Built around the concept of offering food to Lord Krishna, all the dishes are devoid of onion, garlic and vegetables like cauliflower, beetroot, tomato and cabbage - ingredients that are considered to be 'tamasic' and 'rajasic.' Pulses form a major part of most dishes. Not less than 14 dishes are offered everyday as 'nivedyam' to the deity of the famed Sri Krishna temple. Feeding the little deity and the countless devotees who throng his shrine is a concept central to the evolution of Udupi's food culture.
Masala dosa, rumoured to have had its origin in Udupi, is a typical Udupi breakfast dish. Pangala, a village named after the Pangala river, is known for the most authentic Udupi masala dosa - devoid of onions and generously coated with locally made ghee. 'Huli' is an aromatic and flavoursome gravy that tastes like a sweet version of sambar. This coconut-based curry is had with dosa, idli, and rice.
'Uddina gojju' is a signature Udupi variant of raitha made by combining urad dal flour with thick yoghurt, and creamy pudina mixture, tempered with coconut oil and chilly. Sweet and fluffy Udupi buns or sweet banana pooris; 'gulli appa' made using raw rice and grated coconut; the many varieties of 'gatti' or steamed rice dumplings filled with coconut and jiggery which are cooked after wrapping them in banana leaves/turmeric leaves are some of the most well-known teatime snacks from the Udupi culinary tradition.
Here's a signature Udupi recipe that you can try out. 'Ellu holige' or 'til poli' translates to seasame flatbread. Read the recipe here