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4 gush-worthy dishes from north Karnataka

A list of must-try north Karnataka dishes, from 'jolada rotti' to 'soppina palya' and 'shenga holige'

While holige with dal or coconut stuffings are popular, the groundnut is the star in shenga holige. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Aisiri Amin

LAST PUBLISHED 18.09.2023  |  09:00 AM IST

In the overcrowded world of Instagram recipes, one does find gems that make it to the ‘Saved’ list immediately. This week, I discovered tuppada mutagi on the social media platform. It's a flatbread from North Karnata made with jowar flour, laden with ghee, and smeared in spices.

Sai Sogadu, a newly opened restaurant in Bengaluru, serves this delight that isn’t easily available on menus. It’s one of the many dishes from north Karnataka that are yet to be discovered and popularised like the Dharward peda or Davangere benne dosa.


Also read: From tambli to chutney, the appeal of Karnataka-style dishes using peels

Many first foods that I tasted as a child were in north Karnataka, specifically in Dharwad, at my extended family’s house where Avva (mother), as I lovingly call a close family friend, often whipped up magic with food. My memory still clings to the aromas of the softest holige (wheat flatbread stuffed with sweet channa dal and jaggery) and jolada rottis (jowar rotis). If food is love, hers is the unforgettable kind.

The Instagram reels have not only added tuppada mutagi to my list, but also made me remininsce and discover more such delights. Here are some that I recommend:

Jolada rotti and soppina palya

Today, gluten-free flours might be a trend, but they have also been part of many traditional recipes for centuries. One such is jolada rotti or jowar flour rotis. For beginners, it could be overwhelming to make. You must get the water-to-flour ratio right and that comes only with experience.

For the rottis, mix jowar flour with hot water and knead it well using a spatula. While the dough is warm, portion it into lemon-sized balls, and roll them out in the shape of chapatis. A way to make this easier is to constantly dust the rottis with dry flour while rolling. Heat the thin rottis on a girdle and cook until you see brown spots.

The best accompaniment for jolada rotti, in my opinion, is soppina palya (green leaves side dish). For this, take some green leafy vegetables such as spinach, amaranthus, fenugreek leaves and dill, wash and dry them thoroughly. In a pan, heat oil, and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves. As they splutter, add in chopped onions and peanuts. Saute until the onions turn soft, then add the leavy greens. To this add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and if you feel like it, stir in some garam masala. Mix in cooked toor dal and simmer this for a few minutes. Enjoy with hot jolada rottis.


For those who love chaats, girmit, also called mandakki, is a must-try. In a wok, heat oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin seeds. Add chopped onion, slit green chillis, turmeric, salt, soaked tamarind water and jaggery. Let this boil and thicken. To this, add roasted gram powder and keep aside.


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In a bowl, mix puffed rice, chopped onions and tomatoes. To this, mix in the previously prepared paste.  You can spice it up as per your preference. Enjoy on its own or with a chilli bhaji.

Shenga holige

Holige is known as obattu sweet boli or puran poli in different languages, but the love remains the same across communities. Many who have grown up eating the softest and sweetest holiges will remember the dal and jaggery or coconut and jaggery fillings. But the one that doesn’t get the limelight is shenga or peanut holige, which often takes you by surprise. 

For this, the dough is similar to the one used for chapatis, but much softer. Once you mix water and wheat flour, pour oil over it and let it rest. In a dry pan, roast peanuts and then white sesame seeds. Grind them together with poppy seeds, cardamom and jaggery. To this, add a little bit of water to turn into a soft dough-like mixture. Take medium-sized balls of the wheat flour dough, roll them and add a ball of the peanut mixture in the middle, seal and roll it like a chapati or stuffed paratha.

Use ghee to cook it on the pan and enjoy.  Peanuts bring their main character energy to holige.

Sambar butti

If you have leftover rice, this can be a delicious saviour. Before you start, make sure the rice is soft. In a pan, heat oil, add mustard and cumin seeds. When they splutter, add curry leaves, and red and green chillis along with chopped ginger and sauté until they turn light brown. To this add chopped onion, and cook until they are soft.  Mix in jaggery, tamarind water and salt. 

While the mixture is cooking, add sambhar powder and boil until you get a thick paste. Add the soft rice, mash, and mix well. Once it has cooled, portion it into medium-sized balls and enjoy.

Also read: Explore the regional dishes of Arunachal Pradesh