Udupi culinary: A travel from temple tradition to Bylanes of cities

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Udupi culinary is an integral portion of South Indian Cuisine. Hence, I decided to explore the notion “Eat, as nobody is watching you; Enjoy food like that’s the only thing left in your world”-Nikita Dudani. And this is my approach to food; even then, I am a silent minority during a discussion on South Indian culinary art. Primarily because my thoughts restrict to Idilli- Vada- Sambar-Dosa; please don’t assume that it’s my fault, but it’s what we see, we know.  


Between the Western Ghats mountains and the Arabian Sea lies Udupi in the lush green Konkan Belt; it carries a fragrance of mustard, hot chillies, roasted peanuts and curry leaves. Ideally, Udupi had little to do with Culinary tradition- Centuries ago-probably in the 13th century, Madhavacharya, a sage, founded Dvaita branches in Hindu philosophy. He devised rituals to worship the Godchild- Krishna, revered in his infant virtue in Udupi. The devotees believed that Krishna would wander away unless lured to stay by delicious eats. This belief resulted in the ‘Naivedya’ — no fewer than 14 different varieties — offered to the Lord daily. It has to be managed and served by the Shivalli Brahmins (his disciples) – little did the Krishna devotee know that soon Matt would emerge as a place of religion and the culinary world.

Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand
Krishna Math

The philosophy of Udupi culinary is finesse and a balanced & nutritious diet. Chaturmasa Vrata’s (four monsoon months) tradition of imposing restrictions on certain ingredients may have contributed to the cuisine’s innovation, along with occasions, individual tastes and affluence. This cuisine is very traditional yet influenced the culinary ledger of history and neighbouring states. I mark off my tour with Sri Krishna Temple, the Matt with a typical Kerala style architecture, and eight Mathas that surround it date back to the 13th century. To a greater extent than Matt, I was interested in the food originating from that place. I gave way to a Mitra Samaj Restaurant in a Udupi temple square that has been serving since 1949 for breakfast. 

Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand
Mitra Samaj

The restaurant uses no onion or garlic. The taste of Goli Baje, a Maida savoury, deep-fried in coconut oil and served with freshly ground coconut chutney, was soul-filling. Yet I ordered the Kadubu Olle, made of Rava batter and steamed in the leaves of a native palm, and dished out hot with chutney. This eating house has evolved an unparalleled business model for the fast-food trade, uncompromising on taste. Indeed a mouth-watering start to a day!

Goli Baje

Highlights: Authentic Udupi SnacksGoli Baje, Kadubu Olle, Kushmand Halwa (a delicacy made of sweet pumpkin) with freshly brewed coffee.

Location: Sri Krishna Temple Complex, car street Thenkpete, Maruthi Veethika, Udupi,

Cost:: Rs.300 for two approx


Mangalore is 60 km from Udupi; their cuisine has derived much from Udupi cuisine, including meat and seafood preparations in onion and garlic. It was scorching hot, and the sand on the sea beach was burning under my feet, so I walked on the pavement. Along the sidewalk of Malpe beach stood a man with a small wooden cart selling Churu-Muri or spiced puffed rice. It’s a part of the delicious street food in Udupi. The puffed rice is mixed with tender vegetables and fruit, roasted peanuts, little coconut oils, grounded spices & dice of lime. It’s just incredible! It’s like JhalMuri of Kolkata street food, but slightly different as the raw vegetable is added here. Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand

Anupam restaurant

Munching on them, letting my palette savour the tangy & spicy taste, I asked about the eatery to taste Mangalorean Cuisine. The locals accurately suggest that good eatery, Anupam or The Shetty’s Lunch Home were among them. Considerably, I opted for Anupam for my lunch as it was nearby. I decided I would hop in later tomorrow. For somebody who likes experiential binging, this is the place to be. 

Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand
Chicken Ghee roast

The cuisine they offer is delectable, prices are gentle on the pocket and will not cause a dent, and quantity is profuse- each dish is dripping with flavour, adding to the overall charm of the place. The menu includes all seafood, from fries to roast or curry. I set up my carving for Chicken ghee roast & Neer Dosa.

Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand
Neer Dosa


Highlights: It’s famous for seafood delicacies; chicken & prawn Ghee roast with Neer Dosa is a must-try here.

Location: Kalpana Residency, Upendra Baug, Udupi

Cost: Rs.400 for two approx


It was a sumptuous lunch, and I could not make a motion! Well, I hauled myself to consciousness as I had to explore the spices and the traditional Udipi cuisine further. Since the culinary is established on the Vedic principles, Sattvic food, as a tradition, appeared distinctly in the culture. Despite the strict Satvic boundaries, chefs devised signature dishes that typify Udupi food today. We witness rituals and cooking -the twin skill sets of the Udupi Brahmins.


They wish their food to be light, natural, digested, nutritious and cooling in the coastal heath. Now it’s clear why the proverb is prevalent in the coastal towns: “Brahmana Bhojana Priya” (the Brahmin loves his food too well). I was even baffled to see no part of the white pumpkin was wasted. The skin, seeds and soft-core are used to make the coolant Thamblis, while the vegetable will end up as a sweet dish, the famous Kushmand Halwa, cooked in pure ghee with jaggery roasted cashew nuts. Jackfruit is another vegetable used to make Papads; Pelakayida Gatti is another recipe made from riped Jackfruit served with honey. There is a large variety in this cuisine. 


Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand
Pelakayida Gatti

I did some spice shopping and added Papads of Jackfruit, beet-root, and spinach. Murukku got added to my shopping list, a perfect crisp and slightly salty snack made from lentil paste (urad daal) and deep-fried. It tasted yummy and looked nice, also. I ate a whole package with hot filter coffee. Since my afternoon Chicken ghee roast had occupied a substantial portion of my stomach, I decided to keep the dinner light. I desired to dine at the Woodland brand, created by K. Krishna Rao, an uneducated-Puthige matt trained cook who began the first Udupi cuisine-based Sri Krishna Vilas Hotel in 1927. 

Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand

Later that evening, I went to the Woodlands to try Bisibele Bhath. It is known initially as Bisi Bele Julianna, a dish made from spicy red gram, rice and vegetables. It was filling yet comfortable enough to allow Lord Krishna to play afterwards as per the Shivalli Brahmin. Bisi Bēle Bhāt means hot lentil rice mixture in Kannada words. Udupi cuisine lentils are a prominent feature as their protein content, mixed with rice, vegetables, and spices, make it a wholesome taste, generally served with papad and a hot pickle.

Woodland Hotel

I also tried Thambli, a summer speciality coolant made from seasonal greens. Like the leaves of the Brahmi, Yelemuri or Vitamin Soppu, skin and seeds of gourds Chatham Soppu, then fried with ghee, grounded with pepper, jeera and coconut, thinned with buttermilk. It is finger-licking good.

Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand
Bisi Bēle Bhāt


Highlights: Bisibele Bhath, one should try Hayagreeva Maddi (cooked with Bengal gram with jaggery and coconut.) You can Try Dosa & vada too.

Location: Dr U. R. RAO Complex | Near Sri Krishna Mutt, Udupi

Cost: Rs. 600 for two approx


The following day was lazy since I had to move to Gokarna. So I headed for a quick shower & decided on brunch at The Shetty’s Lunch Home. I used to believe that Udupi food could not do without massive amounts of coconut. But I was wrong, as other sorts are used to make masalas, like fresh pineapples, bitter gourd, mango and the local sour fruit. These are roasted with some black Til, later fried with red chillies, urad dal, and fenugreek in a little coconut oil, and then finely ground with a bit of coconut jaggery.

Udupi: From Temple Tradition to a Culinary Brand
Shetty’s Lunch Home

This masala gives a tangy and incredibly aromatic to dishes. On the other hand, Udupi Brahmins make spicy chutneys that go well with boiled rice throughout the monsoon. I noticed Tamarind & Jaggery’s use is balanced in most cuisine, especially in chutney or curries. Thinking over Udupi’s cooking, spices, techniques, tradition & culture, I reached the eatery. The place was beautiful, and so was the ambience. I asked for the best preparation. And they suggested Kane fish (ladyfish) preparation was excellent. It’s marinated in a fiery red chilli paste, coated in semolina and fried to golden glory, served with rice, sambar & rasam. The taste could not leave my palette for a brace of hours.

Kane Fish

The Shetty’s Lunch Home.

Highlights: Seafood & Meat with authentic Manglorean flavours, Kane fish fry or curry.

Location: Kundapur Bus Stop, Kundapur 

Cost:  Rs. 500 for two approx


Eventually, it was time to depart, as I always brought back a sample of savoury and sweet delicacies. Hence, Kushmand Halwa (a delicacy made of fresh pumpkin) was packed from the local bakery. I realised that the temple tradition gave Udupi cuisine a strong foundation. But the transformation began when it travelled from the holy corridors of temples to the Bylanes cities. However, for a taste of authentic Udupi cuisine, the eatery’s pick needs to be done with care.

Kushmand Halwa







2 thoughts on “Udupi culinary: A travel from temple tradition to Bylanes of cities

  1. Just wanna remark on few general things, The website style is perfect, the subject material is very wonderful : D.

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