Eat Like a Local: The Coastal Fare of Mangaluru

Eat Like a Local: The Coastal Fare of Mangaluru
Traditional home-style prawn curry native to Mangaluru Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Mangalorean cuisine is anything but fishy!

Roshni Subramanian
April 20 , 2020
10 Min Read

Sun-kissed beaches, lush gardens and ancient heritage buildings, the port city of Mangaluru has plenty to marvel over. Nestled between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats, this sleepy beach town is a tapestry of colours, culture and flavours. Trivia alert: did you know some of the best of Bollywood happen to be proud Mangaloreans? Former Miss World Aishwarya Rai, Hollywood heartthrob Freida Pinto, and even the acclaimed filmmaker Guru Duttall hail from this city. 

A melting pot of cultures, Mangaluru is also a food-lover’s haven. Housing different communities like the Tuluvas, Saraswat Brahmins, Gouda Brahmins, Catholics and Bunts, the city offers an eclectic mix of culinary offerings. Here’s a round-up of authentic Mangalorean delicacies that you cannot miss when you are in the city. 


Neer Dosa

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Probably one of the most versatile dishes to come out of south India, a good dosa is relished by people all over the country. From the popular masala dosa to the rava variation and everything in-between, dosas are universally loved. And Mangaluru has its own version of this classic dish. Neer dosa, a delicacy popular in the Tulu region, makes for a great breakfast option. Neer dosa  in Tulu literally translates to 'water dosa'. So the dish essentially derives its name from the watery consistency of the batter. Usually accompanied with coconut chutney, neer dosa also goes well with coconut milk and even sagu

Chicken Sukka

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Chicken sukka, kori sukka or kori ajadina, call it what you may, this dry chicken curry is for those whose love for spice knows no bounds. Made using morsels of chicken, the preparation is native to the Konkan coast. Fusing a great host of flavours including the tanginess of tamarind, the sweetness of coconut and fieriness of red chillies, the distinct coastal flavour packs a punch.

Mangalore Buns

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For the uninitiated, Mangalore buns are an Indianised version of sweet donuts. Typically a banana poori, these puffed buns are an all-day snack. Thick and flaky, they get a mild sweetness from the ripe bananas. Fermentation plays an essential role in the making of the batter and lends the soft and pliable texture to the dough. Normally served with coconut chutney and sambar, in some regions it is also accompanied with potato palya and vegetable kurma.

Kori Rotti

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Mangaloreans love their spice. There are no two ways about it. And the chilli-based kori sukka hits all the right chords in this respect. Also known as kori ghassi, this Mangalorean chicken curry is creamy, spicy with an overload of the goodness of coconut. A quintessential Tuluva recipe, kori rotti is a combination of chicken curry and crispy dry wafers made using boiled rice. A sumptuous meal in itself, traditionally the rotti or the wafers were made by the women in the house, but today it’s readily available at any store across the city. Next time you find yourself in Mangaluru, we’d suggest heading to Shetty’s to gorge on some authentic kori rotti.

Kappa Rotti

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Another variation of the classic rice pancakes, kappa roti is typically a dosa made in a deep cast-iron pan with a thick and soft middle and crisp sides. Often served with mackerel fish curry or what is locally known as bangude ghassi, this four-ingredient dosa is native to the Bunt community and is also served with chutney, chicken curry and dollops of ghee (clarified butter).

Chicken Ghee Roast

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Fiery, tangy and laced with ghee, as the name clearly suggests, chicken ghee roast is iconic for all the right reasons. Health freaks out there, you might want to ditch your diet for a short while just for this one. The origins of this dish can be traced back to Kundapura, a small coastal town in Karnataka. Though the dish has nothing to do with roasting, its unique aroma can be credited to the unusual mix of dry spices. While the Chettinad version of this delicacy is also extremely popular, for us the Managalorean Bunt variation is hands down an all-time favourite.

Bangude Puli Munchi

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In Tulu, bangude translates to mackerel, puli translates to tamarind or tangy and munchi translates to chilli. This Bunt style tangy mackerel fish curry is an integral part of Mangalorean cuisine. It is traditionally prepared in a clay vessel which intensifies the earthy flavour of the dish. Cooked in a thick spicy gravy, consisting of roasted spices, onions, garlic and tamarind, it is served best with steamed rice. 

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