Say Karnataka food and the first images that pop into your mind are the famed Neer dosa, Bisi bele bath and the Ragi mudda which every foodie is aware of. But there is more to Karnataka cuisine than these dishes. Karnataka cuisine is influenced by the neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra. Hence a lot of popular dishes from these regions have been modified to become the signature dishes of Karnataka. Holiday Inn in Kochi is holding a Karnataka Food Fest for which a chef from Karnataka — Chef Prakash — has come over to Kochi.
Talking about the need for a Karnataka food fest, Chef Prakash says, "Karnataka food is very similar to Kerala cuisine. Coconut is liberally used as also the spices. The spices used are different though because we use a special chilly called Byadagi Chilli which gives a strong colour but is not at all pungent. The masalas used for preparing the recipes are all freshly ground."
Non-vegetarian food is also very popular in Karnataka especially the chicken and fish varieties. Chef Prakash says, "There is a kind of fish called the Kane which is similar to the mackerel but is straight and this is a favourite."
Talking about Karnataka food, one cannot avoid talking about the famous Neer dosa. Prakash explains, "The dosa feels so light that one does not feel like you are eating something. You don't even have to chew it because it is so soft! The batter preparation is very unique that it is like water- the moment you put it in the pan, it spreads and the pan is covered to retain the steam."
Chef Prakash places a squarish and white extremely thin item which looks like a cross between a pappadam and a dosa. "It is called a kori roti which is very thin and crisp. You soak it in gravy and then have it even as a side dish or a main course," he says.
Chef Prakash then proceeds to state that he has brought over all the ingredients from Karnataka to Kochi, including his pans. The speciality of Karnataka food, he says is that it is not too spicy or too salty. Also sunflower oil is preferred over coconut oil. On offer are snacks like bondas, starters, fish, pork and chicken varieties made in the true blue Karnataka way. Not to forget desserts too.