The Kannadiga Thaali

It’s festival time! Nothing screams festival louder than a lunch feast and THAT’S how we Kannadigas do it! Wake up early on the morning of the festival, bathe, set up the puja ghar, pray and we’re ready to hit the food. It is towards the end of the year, lots of festivals coming up.. lots of weddings coming up.. this is the best time to delve into our roots while keeping up with the times.

Karnataka is one of the southern states of India, and I am from the northern part of this state. We love our festivals and our elaborate food. Food from northern Karnataka, or oota as it is called in Kannada, is quite simple and easy to prepare, perhaps because we make so many dishes for one meal. During festivals, weddings or any other auspicious occasion, we get together and have an elaborate meal served on banana leaves. The meal is a riot of vegetables, dals, different types of rice and sweets. Fortunately it is light on the stomach as well so you can eat as much as you want. Traditionally on a festival day, we do not cook with onions or garlic, but that’s left to you discretion. Festival food is always a vegetarian feast for us, but other parts of Karnataka such as the coastal areas and Coorg, they’re known for their meat preparations. The Pandi Curry (pork curry) from Coorg is just yum yum yum!!

Recently, we celebrated Ganesh Chathurthi and between my mother and my aunt, there was an elaborate Kannadiga Thaali up. Thaali consists of small helpings of an assortment of vegetables and dals and sweets.. you name it!

Lord Ganesha with an offering of his favourite sweet – The Modakas
Ganesha 2
The playful Lord Ganesha

Kannadiga cuisine has so much to offer that I couldn’t possibly cover it in one post. In this post I am focusing on the food we usually make at home for festivals and some of my favourite Kannadiga dishes that I have had growing up. (Psst… A very similar menu was served for lunch when Viraj and I got married as well.)

This is what we had for Gashesh Puja…


Thaali 4

Thaali 5
Modakas were added to the Thaali soon enough 😀

The Plating

There is a system of plating the Thaali. You start with the salt and the lemon on the left top corner. This is for any additional flavouring if required based on an individual’s palette. The salads are placed on the left side of the salt and lemon, which are served next. The sweet or the payasa is on the right hand bottom corner. You are always served just a tea-spoon of it first because that’s what you start your meal with. It is symbolic of ‘sweet beginnings’. The palyas, or the vegetables are served next followed by different types of rice and different types of dals, rasam, and sambar. You end the meal with rice with curd and sweets.

Our Thaali here is a very simple version of the elaborate meal you have at a wedding or a big festival.

Recipes from The Thaali

Kos 3 Kosambari – A simple lentil salad.

Carrot Beans Beans and Carrot Palya – A vegetable made of beans and carrots

Cabbage Cabbage Palya – A vegetable made of cabbage

Chitranna Chitranna – Lemon Rice

Rasam Rasam – Spicy dal, which is more like a soup than a dal (FYI this is not a Kannadiga dish, it is Tamilian, but I am including this as we had this as a part of our Thaali.. and I louuurve it!!)

fried-modak-web2 Modak (Image Source) – The sweet coconut dumplings

Other Kannadiga Dishes

This list features some dishes that are my favourite and occasionally are also a part of the Thaali.

BBA 1 Bisi Belle Bhaat – Mixture of rice and sambar with tonnes of veggies and tonnes of flavour

This is my humble attempt to share what little I know of the north Kannadiga cuisine. The recipes are from my mother, my aunts, my granny and all the lovely ladies who inspire me to cook, learn and share the wonderful flavours I grew up with. Food that you grow up is always flavoured with lots of love and stories around them, and I cannot wait to share my stories from the kitchen and around with you.

This post is the introduction of the series ‘The Kannadiga Thaali’ that covers recipes from Karnataka, primarily the north. I would love to have you share recipes, tips and tricks, anecdotes.. anything and everything related to this cuisine. Do not forget to tag #TheKannadigaThaali.