Explore the ‘Majestic Cuisine of Mysore’
Image Credit: Cuisine of Mysore

Do you ever visit cities primarily to explore the cuisine they offer? If you do, keep the heritage city of Mysore on your priority list. The cultural capital of Karnataka, Mysore or Mysuru, provides a multi-layered gastronomical experience filled with fantastic dishes. The culinary region of Mysore has a great depth of flavours and holds an extraordinary reputation. So be prepared to be enthralled by these exemplary dishes, many of which find their roots in the royal kitchens of Mysore.

The Royal Mysore Pak

To justify my claim about the culinary prowess of Mysore, I am starting with the best the city has to offer; the heavenly sweet dish called ‘Mysore Pak’. Gram flour, sugar, and high-quality ‘desi ghee’ make it one of the finest sweet dishes in India; anyone tasting it is bound to become its raving fan. It melts instantly as soon as you put this delectable, fudgy, sweet dish on your palate. We must reserve heartfelt gratitude for Mr KakasuraMadappa, who invented this royal sweet more than 100 years ago, as he prepared it for the Maharaja of Mysore Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV, who was the first of the many lovers of the legendary Mysore Pak. 

Maharaja of Mysore wanted the whole city to try out the delicious preparation. Thus, this royal sweet dish found its way out of the palace kitchens to the sweet shops outside. Four generations later, the great-grandsons of KakasuraMadappa still run the iconic ‘Guru Sweet Mart’ at the Devraja Market, where the original recipe can be tried. I had the pleasure of tasting the softest Mysore pak ever, and this shop is not merely a recommendation but one of the key reasons one should visit Mysore.

Mysore Dosas and Tiffin Rooms

Dosas in Mysore are called ‘dhose, or dosey’; however, that’s not the only distinguishing factor; it’s the taste, texture, composition, and method of preparation that makes dhose of Mysore a must-experience for all gastronomes.

The original Vinayaka Mylari Hotel, one of the oldest and the most famous dosa joints, is located on the Nazarbad main road. ‘Vinayaka Mylari Hotel’ serves authentic dosas and idlis, all cooked on a wood fire. There are quite a few dosa places with the name ‘Mylari’. However, Vinayaka Mylari is the original place which was established in the year 1938 and has been a favourite amongst the food lovers of Mysore, as well as tourists visiting the city. Dosas here are small but buttery and have a spiced onion Palya (vegetable masala) to go along with them. Idlis, too, are soft and taste delicious. As all the cooking is done on a woodfire, it provides a unique texture and taste, which only restaurants as impressive as Vinayaka Mylari Hotel can boast of.

Mysore Masala Dosa; this special dosa preparation finds its way to the menu of almost all south Indian restaurants across India. And thus, to enjoy it in the city it takes its name from is unmissable. Head to Mahesh Prasad Veg Restaurant to try the authentic ‘Mysore masala dosa’, generously smeared with red chutney and butter, to be enjoyed with their delicious chutney and sambhar. ‘Bonda Soup’, ‘Idlis’, ‘Vadas’, Mysore’s special ‘Bisibelebhath’, ‘Bhajjis’, and various chat items adorn the menu of Mahesh Prasad Restaurant. Another recommendation to try at this restaurant is grape juice and flavourful filter coffee. It is a favourite amongst the locals, who enjoy a hearty south Indian meal with their families.

Gayatri Tiffin Room is another fantastic place for South India Tiffins, serving delicious snacks throughout the day. ‘Masala dhose’, ‘bhajjis’, ‘bondas’, and coffee have true die heard fans across Mysuru. Many of its patrons have been coming to GTR (Gayatri Tiffin Room) for longer than 50 years, twice a day, for their daily dosage of filter coffee. One must-try preparation at the Gayathri tiffin room would be a delightful combination of ‘Chow ChowBhath’, a mix of ‘KharaBhath’ (Savoury) and ‘KesariBhath’ (Sweet). After trying the ‘Chow Chowbhath’ many times for breakfast across different cities of Karnataka, it is one of my favourite breakfast combos in India. It would be best if you tried it too.

Andhra Cuisine at Hotel RRR (Tripple R)

Located at the prominent Gandhi Square, Hotel RRR is the favoured choice to try the Andhra food in Mysore. A vegetarian meal is served on a banana leaf, and the restaurant is packed with food lovers indulging in the spicy Andhra cuisine. Food is authentic, and one can eat unlimited food at 220 rupees per person. Hotel RRR is a delight for biryani lovers, especially their famous Andhra Mutton Biryani.

Hanumanthu Mutton Pulao

Foodies constantly debate whether a ‘Mutton Biryani’ is better or ‘Mutton Pulao. However, if you have tasted the ‘Mutton Pulao served at 92 yrs old Hanumanthu Hotel, you are bound to fall in love with the latter. ‘Pulao, along with many other non-vegetarian dishes served at Hanumanthu hotel, is loved by true blue meat lovers. ‘Mutton Pulao is cooked over a woodfire in large cauldrons with great precision. Spicy and succulent, the mutton pieces in this pulao are not just tender but also carry the quintessential rustic flavours served with a thin spicy and soupy curry called the ‘Sherva’. 

 Mysore’s Mess Cuisine

Mess or Military Hotel/Canteen in Mysore is a haven for meat lovers. The standard menu of mess would include ‘Mutton Pulao’ as the anchor dish and dishes like ‘Chicken Chilli’, ‘Boti (Intestine)’, ‘Pepper Chicken’, ‘Chicken Chop’, ‘Mutton Chop’, ‘Mutton liver’, ‘Mutton Khaima’ (Soft minced meatballs), and ‘Mutton leg soup’ called the ‘Kaal Soup’. Chicken chilli must not be confused with its Indo-Chinese version, as this semi-gravy preparation is unique to the messes of South India; spicy and fiery red. It became my instant favourite. ‘Mutton Khaima’ is soft, succulent and served in a flavourful curry. ‘Boti’ and ‘Liver’ are another set of dishes to be tried by Offal lovers.  one must visit the messes at 6 am to enjoy ‘Kaal soup’, served as a breakfast preparation.

Tegu Mess and Ruchi Mess are two of the finest messes in Mysore, where I enjoyed the excellent non-vegetarian feast, and I strongly recommend them.

Other notable culinary experiences

Dolphins is one of the best bakeries in Mysore and doubles up as a restaurant set inside a unique double-decker bus. Set in a heritage building opposite the Mysore palace, their cakes, cookies, pastries, snacks, and the vibe of sitting outside this bakery is a lovely and relaxing experience. Another fantastic place which I loved visiting was King’s Coffee. Excellent quality coffees and a pleasant sit-out space in a courtyard adorned with white outdoor furniture make for a perfect setting; lots of greenery and a great vibe to enjoy Karnataka’s famed coffee truly make for a fantastic concept!

I was lucky to be in Mysore during the ‘Mysore Dasara’ celebrations, one of India’s largest and most celebrated festivals. The food served around this time truly depicts the flavour of Mysore and surrounding areas like ‘Uttara Kannada’, ‘Dakshin Kannada’, and so on. At the ‘Ahara Mela’, I got to try ‘MalligeIdli’ (As Soft as the Mallige flower), ‘ChibluIdli’ (Steamed in a basket), ‘Jollad Roti’, ‘Ragi Roti’, ‘Dharwad Peda’, ‘Mirchi Bhajjis’, ‘Paddus’, Mangalore buns and many more unique dishes of Karnataka.

So why wait? Do plan a trip to the culinary-rich city. Mysore will give any food lover a great time. With one good culinary exploration of Mysore, you would not stop praising it to every other food lover. Just the way I am doing it with you.

Sidharth Bhan Gupta, Founder of 361 Degrees Hospitality, is a Hospitality / Food and Beverage / Restaurant Consultant, Travelling across India on a Cultural and Culinary Exploration.