When The Innovation Of Ghee Roast Changed The Face Of Mangalorean Cuisine
Image Credit: Let me raise a toast to ghee roast.

The food of any region/country is defined by the people inhabiting it. For instance, you remember how the Hindu Saraswats and Portuguese Catholics defined the foodscape of Goa? That’s the case with most regions in the Indian sub-continent. The distinctions between these communities adds to the cultural as well as culinary diversity of the country. There are wide-ranging differences between the north and south already. Add to that, regional variations and what you get is a larger-than-life food map in front of you. A trail down south would be a great opportunity for you to understand the minute details of each area. 

Some call it Mangaluru while others have stuck to the former name, Mangalore and for the purpose of this article, we would like to stick to it too. In order to get a clearer picture of the culinary aspects of the city, we need to know about the people living there. Dominated by four major communities i.e. Goud Brahmans, Konkani Muslims, Bunt and Catholics, right from everyday practices and religious rituals to cooking styles, you would find a new adaption everywhere.  

While you have a range of calamaris and bondas being prepared in most Mangalorean households, there is a cooking technique which is quite specific to their regional cuisine. What is it? We’ll find out. 

The Tradition Of Ghee Roast 

I have come across the term ghee roast uncountable times, particularly when I’m dining at a South Indian restaurant in Delhi. From the list of dosas and idlis, what pops up in front of my eyes is the Ghee Roast Dosa but I never order it. I stick to my usual Coconut Rava Masala dosa generally. This one time, I was in the mood for some experimentation and decided to give this interesting dosa a try. When it arrived on my table, everyone was looking at it. You ask why? Well, for one, the ghee was showing its true colours and the crispy outer layer of my dosa was shining bright. 

Now, as a layman who had no knowledge of what ghee roast meant, I assumed that it was basically roasted in oodles of ghee and guess what? I was partially correct. There was a point where I felt that the potato filling inside tasted a little different but I dismissed that thought the very next second. I shouldn’t have, though. 

Ghee Roast is actually a special Mangalorean preparation that was innovated 50 years ago inside a family-run kitchen. Padmavathi, the wife of a restaurateur, was quite active in the kitchen and had aced most authentic Mangalorean dishes in her home kitchen itself. When their restaurants began 1958, they had two outlets, one in Kundapur and the other in Mangalore. It was during one of these experiments that she created ghee roast, which was later popularized by her son, Mohandas Shetty worldwide. 

Specialty Of Ghee Roast

The humble town of Kundapur boasts of a spicy, non-vegetarian fare and the invention of the ghee roast masala did wonders for the Mangalorean cuisine. The special masala is prepared with freshly ground red Bydagi chilies which are then roasted with dollops of fresh ghee, obtained from buffalo milk. The buffalo milk is easily available in this town and lends a silky texture to the masala. Later, the marinated chicken is cooked with this masala and spices, in loads of ghee for a few hours.

From the aroma to the taste of a freshly prepared chicken ghee roast, Kundapur is undoubtedly the most apt place to relish the authentic flavours. While the secret recipe of the ghee roast masala continues to live on through the remaining two women in the family, today we’ve got plenty of ghee roast recipes from prawns ghee roast to vegetable and paneer ghee roast that have been created.