We did a culinary tour of Bengaluru in search of Mangalorean food and were delighted to discover eateries serving some authentic delicacies.

Kane Tawa Fry, a delicacy from MangaluruKane Tawa Fry | Credit: Susheela Nair
Features Food Monday, November 28, 2022 - 18:57

The distinctive cuisine of Karnataka’s Mangaluru has diehard fans from the state and outside. The luscious seafood and piquant chicken curries prepared with freshly ground coconut paste, Byadgi chillies, and piercingly sour tamarind or kokum, served with boiled rice, paper-thin neer dosa, wafer-like rotti, steamed sannas, or pundi (soft rice steamed dumplings) make for a lip-smacking meal. The region’s staple cereal is rice and it assumes many forms: powdered dry, ground to paste, flattened, rolled, cooked, fried or steamed.

If you are in namma Bengaluru and yearning for Mangaluru oota, there are several eateries to suit the wallet and palate. Tapping into the demand for homely Mangalorean food, several coastal cuisine restaurants have mushroomed in the Karnataka capital. “The seafood scenario has changed over the years in the Garden City. Coastal cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian, and seafood dishes dominate Mangalorean cuisine. One of the secrets of the success of Mangalorean cuisine in Bengaluru can be attributed to the fresh supplies of quality seafood specially brought from Mangaluru on a daily basis,” explains Ashok Hegde, a veteran in the hospitality business for more than two decades.

“Despite Bengaluru not being on the coast, its unique location enables enterprising businessmen to source fish, prawns, and other fresh seafood from Kochi, Mangaluru, and Chennai. Besides upmarket seafood restaurants, there are budget-friendly ones if you don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket,” he adds.

We did a culinary tour of Bengaluru in search of Mangalorean food and were pleasantly surprised by what we discovered. Our first stop was Southern Spice, a restaurant in the Malleshwaram area, which offers a fish thali (meal) including dry fish chutney, bangude (mackerel) rava (coated with semolina) fry, bangude curry, neer dosa, a bowl of boiled rice, rasam, and a sweet, all for only Rs 150.


Marwai (clam) sukka

Nammuru Mangaluru, overlooking the scenic airfields in Jakkur, is another restaurant that serves Mangalorean cuisine. The walls here have digital art depicting coastal life and traditional cuisine. Started by Param Shinde, the restaurant transitioned from a cloud kitchen to a restaurant serving exclusive seafood. We started our meal here with a glass of chilled solkadhi, kokum-infused coconut milk, a digestive we needed in generous doses as we feasted on the coastal cuisine. The pink-coloured drink is often consumed after particularly hot and spicy meals as it is very soothing for the gut. We relished the chicken ghee roast, the most iconic of Mangalorean dishes. The aroma of freshly ground and roasted spices, and the richness of ghee was inviting. Fiery, tangy, and laced with ghee, the chicken ghee roast is the piece de resistance of this restaurant.

“Made from a mind-boggling array of spices, the masala is the hallmark of any Mangalorean ghee roast dish. The style of cooking is time-consuming and laborious since it involves fresh, hand-ground masalas,” explains Param, a foodie who is also passionate about cooking. But the recipe remains a closely guarded secret. Prawns are another perennial favourite, fried or cooked with coconut masala. Other favoured starters at the restaurant are squid sukka (squid cooked in spicy coconut masala) and prawn ghee roast.

Bolenjir (silver fish) rava fry, a delicacy in Nammuru Mangaluru, is a must-try. We tried the signature kane (lady fish) rava fry and it was perfect. The tanginess of tamarind, the fragrance of curry leaves, and the fire of red chillies permeated the prawns, crabs, fish, and other seafood items. We rounded off our meal with elaneer (tender coconut) payasa, a delicious, smooth dessert made by simmering milk with elaneer pulp and juice.


Bolenjir fry at Nammuru Mangaluru

Another restaurant that serves tasty Mangalorean food is Kudla (which means Mangaluru in Tulu), located in Ramanashree Hotel on Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road. The food, the decor, and traditional attire of the staff all highlight the distinctiveness of Dakshina Kannada. “Seafood lovers can savour a range of South Kanara delicacies like the bangude naked fry and the prawn ghee roast,” says Kudla’s owner Prabhat Rai, who runs a chain of eight restaurants including Parika Coastal Village and Coastal Delight.

The signature dish at Kudla is the prawn ghee roast. The squid chilli fry, pomfret masala fry, chicken sukka, and marwai sukka (clams toasted in chef’s special southern spices) are other bestsellers. Pulimunchi, traditionally made with mackerels in a rich and spicy tamarind-based gravy, is another favoured dish. Anjal (seer fish) tawa fry coated with masalas and deep fried with or without a rava (semolina) coating was scrumptious. If you have a sweet tooth, you may try ragi manni, a traditional dessert made with finger millet, sugar, and milk. This pudding with its jelly-like texture tastes great when served chilled.


Crab ghee roast

 


Ragi manni

Karavalli in Taj Vivanta on Residency Road has the ambience of a typical west coast home, complete with courtyard, wooden pillars, and lush vegetation. Renowned for its fiery regional fish delicacies, the restaurant has been around for the past three decades. The coastal delicacies here, such as the sea crab ghee roast fried in a subtle Kundapur spice mix, are simply divine. What makes Karavalli distinctive is that the chef and team have painstakingly restored old recipes and recreated forgotten flavours of a glorious bygone era. Synonymous with best-in-class food and service, the restaurant has been voted amongst the S. Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants.


Prawns ghee roast


Pomfret fry

Sana-Di-Ge (meaning brass lamp in Kannada) in Goldfinch Hotel on Crescent Road serves an eclectic mix of coastal delicacies in an authentic setting. The anjal fish curry with rice and teekha prawn fry are some of the must-try dishes here.

For hardcore fish fans, Sea Rock, a swanky seafood restaurant in Shivananda Circle, is a must-visit for its squid masala, silver fish rava fry, kori rotti, and chicken curry with the soft neer dosa.

If you’re looking for something quick and on-the-go, there is the seafood truck called Mangalore in Bangalore in RR Nagar. Set up by three engineers from Kundapur, you can sample authentic Mangalorean fare here.

All pics by Susheela Nair.

Susheela Nair is an independent food, travel and lifestyle writer and photographer contributing articles, content and images to several national publications besides organising seminars and photo exhibitions. Her writings span a wide spectrum which also includes travel portals and guide books, brochures and coffee table books.

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