Mangalorean Delights: Exploring the Coastal Culinary Wonders

Nestled along the southwestern coast of India, the port city of Mangalore is a hidden gem that boasts not only stunning landscapes but also a culinary tradition that is as rich and diverse as the region itself. Mangalorean cuisine is a true reflection of the city's cultural tapestry, blending influences from various communities and culinary traditions that have thrived in this coastal haven for centuries. In this article, we will explore the unique and lesser-known dishes that make Mangalorean cuisine a world of its own, distinct from neighboring cuisines, and appreciate its exotic authenticity.

Mangalorean cuisine is a world unto itself, standing apart from the more widely known South Indian cuisines, such as Tamil or Kerala cuisine. While it shares some similarities with its southern neighbors, it boasts a distinct identity that sets it apart. Here are some of the key features that make Mangalorean cuisine unique:

Being a coastal city, mangaloreans have a deep-rooted love for seafood. The region offers an array of fish, prawns, crabs, and mussels, which are cooked using a variety of traditional techniques and spice blends. Coconut is a staple ingredient in Mangalorean cooking. It is used in various forms, including fresh coconut milk, grated coconut, and coconut oil, to add richness and flavour to dishes. The Tulu and Konkani communities have played a significant role in shaping mangalorean cuisine. Their culinary traditions feature prominently in the region's unique dishes. Mangalorean cuisine is renowned for its rich and diverse flavours. It strikes a balance between spicy, tangy, and savoury notes, often achieved through the use of tamarind, green chilies, and aromatic spices.  The cuisine is known for its signature spice mixes, including the fiery "ghee roast" masala and the fragrant "bafat" masala, both of which infuse dishes with unforgettable flavours.

While dishes like Mangalorean chicken curry and fish sukka have gained recognition beyond the region's borders, there are several lesser-known gems in Mangalorean cuisine that deserve attention. These dishes are a testament to the culinary creativity and expertise of the region's cooks:

Charmari Upkari

Charmuri Upkari is primarily made from puffed rice, locally known as "charmuri" or "mandakki," which is mixed with an assortment of finely chopped vegetables like cucumber, onion, tomato, and green chilies. These ingredients are then generously seasoned with coconut, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and a zesty squeeze of lime juice. The result is a refreshing and crunchy salad-like concoction that bursts with a medley of textures and tastes. Charmuri upkari is a popular street food snack and a refreshing accompaniment to a hot and humid day, offering a perfect balance of spicy, tangy, and savoury notes that make it a delightful culinary experience.

Kube Sukka

Kube sukka is a delectable and aromatic dish hailing from the coastal cuisine. At its heart, kube sukka is a preparation of dried clams that are stir-fried with a blend of aromatic spices, grated coconut, and tamarind. The dish's name, "Kube," refers to the dried clams used, and "Sukka" implies a dry or semi-dry preparation. This coastal delicacy is often served as an accompaniment to steamed rice or enjoyed with neer dosa, a thin rice crepe. Kube Sukka encapsulates the essence of Mangalorean cuisine with its emphasis on fresh seafood, aromatic spices, and the generous use of coconut. It's a testament to the region's culinary expertise and the ability to transform humble ingredients like dried clams into a culinary masterpiece that delights the senses and leaves a lasting impression on anyone fortunate enough to savour its flavours.

Neer Dosa

Neer Dosa, an unique South Indian crepe, derives its name from the Kannada word "neer," which means water. This thin, delicate crepe is celebrated for its simplicity and refreshing taste. Neer Dosa batter is made by blending rice with coconut and a pinch of salt, resulting in a smooth and watery consistency. Unlike traditional dosas, which require fermentation, Neer Dosa is instantly ready to cook. A ladleful of the thin batter is spread thinly on a hot griddle, forming a lace-like, paper-thin crepe that's slightly crispy at the edges and soft in the center. Neer Dosa's light and airy texture, combined with a subtle hint of coconut, makes it a perfect companion to spicy chutneys, tangy sambar, or even a mild coconut chutney.

Kori Rotti

Kori rotti is a traditional and beloved dish from the coastal city of Mangalore in Karnataka, India. This culinary masterpiece consists of two main components: "Kori," which means chicken, and "Rotti," which refers to crispy, wafer-thin rice wafers. The magic of Kori Rotti lies in the contrast between these components. The crispy rice wafers, known as "Rottis," are typically made by soaking rice, grinding it into a batter, and then cooking it into thin, round sheets that are sun-dried to achieve a delicate crispness. On the other hand, the chicken curry is a rich and flavourful concoction, infused with aromatic spices, coconut milk, and often, the tanginess of tamarind. To enjoy Kori Rotti, you break the crispy wafers into bite-sized pieces and pour the sumptuous chicken curry over them. The result is a delightful symphony of textures and tastes, where the crunchy Rottis soak up the flavourful curry, offering a sensational combination of crispy and tender, spicy and creamy, making it a true delight for the palate and a cherished representation of Mangalorean cuisine.

Mangalorean Biryani

Mangalorean Biryani, also known as "Mangaluru Biryani," is a fragrant and flavourful rice dish that hails from the coastal city of Mangalore in Karnataka, India. This biryani is a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the region, blending coastal and South Indian influences into an aromatic creation.

Mangalorean biryani is a combination of marinated meat, typically chicken or mutton, and aromatic rice, usually basmati rice. The meat is marinated with a blend of spices, including ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chili powder, and yogurt. This marinade imparts depth and flavour to the protein.

Mangalorean Biryani is often garnished with fried onions, fresh mint leaves, and sometimes cashew nuts or raisins for added texture and flavour. It's typically served with a cooling side dish like raita or a simple cucumber salad to balance the heat and richness of the biryani.

This biryani showcases the coastal influences of Mangalore with its use of coconut milk and fresh spices, creating a unique and memorable dining experience. Whether enjoyed at home or in the many restaurants of Mangalore, this dish is a celebration of the city's vibrant culinary culture, offering a taste of the coastal breeze and the warm flavours of South India in every bite.


Patrode is a unique and flavourful dish that originates from the western coastal regions of India, particularly in states like Karnataka and Maharashtra. This dish is made by smearing colocasia leaves with a spiced rice and lentil paste, rolling them into cylindrical shapes, and steaming or shallow-frying them until they become crispy and golden brown. The rice and lentil paste is enriched with a blend of aromatic spices like coriander seeds, cumin, and red chilies, creating a savoury and mildly spicy filling. Patrode is not only known for its distinctive taste but also for its vibrant green appearance, as the colocasia leaves impart both flavour and color to the dish. Once cooked, it is sliced into rounds, revealing the layers of flavourful paste within. Patrode is often served as a snack or side dish.

Goli Baje

Goli baje, also known as Mangalore bajji or Mangalore bonda, is a popular snack in Mangalore. These deep-fried dumplings are made from a batter of rice flour, all-purpose flour, yogurt, and a medley of spices. The key to their unique taste and texture lies in the fermentation process, which yields a fluffy and slightly tangy interior, while the exterior is crispy and golden brown. Goli baje is typically served hot and is enjoyed with coconut chutney or a spicy tomato-based dip, making it a treat that satisfies both savoury and crunchy cravings.