Makar Sankranti 2024: Butthi Oota Of North Karnataka
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Makara Sankranti in Karnataka, known as 'suggi habba,' celebrates the harvest of seasonal crops like rice, sugarcane, beans, gourds, apple ber, and more. The occasion marks the arrival of spring and the end of winter, with the harvest forming the basis for various culinary delights and customary practices.

While people donne their new clothes and exchange ellu-bella, or a trail mix of sesame seeds and jaggery, with their loved ones in one part of Karnataka, the celebrations in the northern region of the state are slightly different. They fly kites, go to carnivals, eat 'butthi oota' and prepare a sweet called 'madli', which is made from millets and jaggery.

The customs may vary due to the diverse cultural influences from neighbouring states and the distinct landscapes of different regions. In southern and western Karnataka, sugarcane and paddy hold significance, while the northern regions like Bijapur, Bagalkote, Raichur, Belgaum, Kalburgi, and Koppala prioritise millets, onions, groundnuts, and brinjal in their harvest. Festive meals in the northern region of the state include dishes made from millets, such as sorghum and bajra.

Siddeshwara Jaatre is a big carnival that takes place in Bijapur during the Sankranti festival, where a huge and decorated chariot seated with the god's idol is pulled across the town. Sugar candies called bendu and batasu, which is also referred to as batasha in Punjab and is popular for Lohri during this time, are purchased from the village fairs for the kids who eagerly look forward to them. Bags of puffed rice mixed with roasted groundnuts and a mixture like khara kaddi are among the snacks at the carnival, apart from hopping on the merry rides and playing various games. Kite-flying is popular in North Karnataka during Makars Sankranti.

The Elaborate Butthi Oota For Sankranti

With that being said, the festive lunch is an elaborate one that includes unique delicacies in the thali or platter, which is referred to as 'butthi oota' that means 'a pack of food' or a meal parcel. It is also called a boghi thali when served on a plantain leaf or sal leaf plate. Butthi oota is special for the people of the region because a few dishes are prepared rarely or only once a year, like the bajji palya and the sajji rotti.

Let us explore some of the dishes that go into the Butthi Oota meal:

Sajje Rotti

This rotti is specially made in Vijayapura and Bagalkot districts of North Karnataka for sankranti. This seasonal special rotti is made from bajra, also known as pearl millet flour. Sajje rotti incorporates black and white sesame seeds as well and is ideally paired with the bajji palya, especially for this festival.

Gonjalada Rotti

This traditional rotti or flatbread, is made from jowar or sorghum flour. They are gluten-free, soft to the touch and light on the palate. The rotti pairs beautifully with yennegai palya made from brinjal.

Bajji Palya

This is a mixed vegetable gravy that includes over 35 ingredients and is made almost with all the seasonal produce, I suppose. It is usually made once a year during Sankranti because of the long process of sourcing the ingredients and preparing this gravy. 

The bajji palya includes green chana, green peas, blackeyed peas, horsegram, sprouted moth beans, knol khol, greengram, groundnuts, chawli, flat beans, apple ber, hyacinth beans, spring beans, brinjal, ridge gourd, spring onions, carrots, gongura leaves, dill leaves, fenugreek leaves, amaranth leaves, spinach, and more.

The vegetables, legumes, and greens are cooked in separate combinations and batches with a paste made from cumin, ginger, garlic, and green chillies with salt. This thick vegetable gravy is nutritious and essential for the winter, and it pairs beautifully with the crunchy sajje rotti.

Karindi And Chutney Pudi

There are about three or four condiments served to pair with the meal. While karindi is chutney, two to three kinds of chutney pudi, like shenga pudi made from groundnuts, garlic, and red chillies, huchchellu or gurellu chutney pudi made from niger seeds, or chutney pudi made from flaxseeds, are served.

Green chilli karindi is a fiery chutney loved in North Karnataka, especially by the Veerashaiva community. It's a chunky blend of green chillies, flax seeds, garlic, mustard, and turmeric and is often stored in the fridge. It pairs well with plain rice, jowar roti, or as a side dish with rice and sambar. To boost its taste, the chutney is left in the sun for 2-3 days to ferment, resulting in a delightful aroma and colour change. Optional additions, like soaking methi seeds and adding cut pieces of carrot or cucumber, can be made. Enjoy it with roti, chapatti, or rice, and you can add ghee or oil to tone down the spice.


Kosambari is a South Indian salad hailing from Karnataka, often made during festivals. The salad is a quick mix of soaked moong lentils with chopped cucumber, grated coconut, coriander, green chillies, and lemon juice. It's tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and asafoetida in hot oil, providing a unique flavour. The addition of fresh coconut adds texture and earthiness. It complements main meals or serves as a healthy snack. The salad is best enjoyed fresh and can be refrigerated briefly before serving. In place of cucumber, grated radish or carrots can be added to make the kosambari as well.

Jhunkad Vadi

Jhunka Vadi, also known as Pitla, is a traditional dish from North Karnataka and Maharashtra, often enjoyed with jowar roti. Made with besan, onions, and spices, it's a quick and healthy recipe. The besan is mixed with Indian masala and onions and tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. It has a long shelf life, making it a popular travel snack. Served as a tea-time treat or with chapati, Jhunka Vadi is versatile and can be made dry or semi-gravy. 

Avrekalu Uduka

Avrekaalu Saaru, or Uduka, is a delicious gravy made with avarekalu or hyacinth beans. The beans are dehusked and cooked in a masala that includes a paste made from coconut, poppy seeds, onions, chillies, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cumin powder. This flavourful recipe pairs beautifully with nucchu or rice.


Yennegayi, meaning "vegetable cooked in oil," is a unique and popular stuffed eggplant recipe from North Karnataka. Known for its thick, spicy coconut-based gravy, it features small, tender purple eggplants with white patches. The dish is prepared by stuffing the eggplants with a rich, ground masala and frying them in oil. While generous oil usage enhances its flavour, it can be enjoyed without garlic and onions. Yennegayi is often served as a side dish to jowar rotti or chapati, making it a delicious part of lunch or dinner in Uttara Karnataka.


Nucchu, also known as jowar or jolada nuchhu, refers to broken sorghum grains that are high in energy. This gluten-free, broken millet serves as a rice substitute. Best enjoyed with chutney pudis, pickles, or ghee.


Madli, also referred to as madali, is a delightful sweet originating from North Karnataka. This traditional dish is crafted from wheat flour (chapathi), jaggery, groundnuts, desiccated coconut, poppy seeds, and cardamom. The process involves transforming chapathis into this unique treat, with the added richness of roasted poppy seeds and desiccated coconut.

Optional ingredients such as dry ginger powder, fennel seeds, dry fruits, and nuts can be introduced. It is best enjoyed with warm milk or ghee, and it not only satisfies the taste buds but also serves as a healthy snack suitable for all age groups. It is a convenient travel food option as it has a longer shelf life.


Sesame seeds or groundnut holige are prepared. Ellu holige, also known as sesame seed holige, is a traditional Indian pancake enjoyed during festivals like Sankranti. Originating from North Karnataka, it features a filling made of roasted black sesame seeds, jaggery, and cardamom. The black sesame seeds, rich in calcium, have a distinct flavour and offer nutritional benefits.

The whole wheat dough is prepared and stuffed with the sesame mixture, forming delightful pancakes. These rustic treats, when cooked on a griddle and served with ghee, provide warmth and nourishment during the winter season, making them a delicious and wholesome indulgence.