Madhwa cuisine

I started writing this blog to try keeping the nostalgia of some of the traditional cooking that was done in our family back in Bangalore. I would like to emphasize that, Kannada food is not just Bisi Bele bhath. Karnataka vegetarian cuisine is almost limitless, and each region has its own unique style and specialty.  For example the cuisine the Udupi- Mangalore region is very different from that of the Dharwad- Hubli region, or the old Mysore region. This has something to do with the type of produce that grows there.

I would like add on my blog, vegetarian recipes from around India( maybe, around the world too), but I would like to showcase recipes of a small group of people to which I belong, called Madhwas. We are followers of Guru Madhwacharya.

Madhwaism started in Udupi, the place most famous for food. Onion, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, brinjal, radish etc, are strictly prohibited for Madhwas. In fact the range of vegetables and fruits allowed is very small. It is amazing to see the infinite range of food that can be prepared with a limited number of resources. In Udupi, every day at least 40-50 dishes are served as naivedya (offering) to the Lord Krishna.

Madhwa cuisine itself is very diverse. The deshastha Madhwas, from Maharashtra, the Madhwas from Bangalore and Mysore or from north Karnataka, or the coastal regions, or Tamilnadu, all have different styles of cooking.

Madhwas have one day of complete fasting every 15 days, called Ekadasi. They do not eat or drink anything after taking a spoon of holy water after Pooja that morning. Ekadasi, is a must for all madhwas who are able bodied, though there are allowances for children, sick people, pregnant women and the elderly. Ekadasi is done to purify the body and try to instill discipline and self control, and is supposed to be spent in complete devotion of God.

There is another important religious vow or Vrath that all able Madhwas are expected to keep. It is called the Chaturmasya Vratha. ‘Chaturmasya’ means 4 months, and ‘Vratha’ means Vow. The chaturmasya is done every year. Each month the person keeping the vow cannot eat a certain food that is restricted. For example, in the first month, all vegetables and fruits are restricted, in the second month, yogurt and its products are restricted. In the third month, milk and milk products are restricted. In the last month, most vegetables and lentils are restricted.

Though I do not do the Chaturmasya here, I will try to post some recipes of the chaturmasya vratha once in a while. The recipes are very easy, and more like comfort food.

Madhwa food has stayed the same through the centuries, as is evident from some songs of our revered Saint Purandaradasaru and his decendent Dasaru.

My family is very mixed now, with lots of people from different sub sects. So not only cooking, but life in general has also been influenced in a very good and positive way:-)


14 thoughts on “Madhwa cuisine

  1. Hallo,
    i am also a Madhwa Brahmin currently living away from India.I cannot forget the tasty traditional dishes sandige huli,Suvarna kootu and sakkare holige.I request anybody who knows the receipe and method of preparation to kindly post it on this website.
    Thank you.

  2. Hi.. I was trying to refine my sakkare holige recepie by taking tips from others and saw this blog… My receipe is pretty gd for a starter and also surprisingly easy…I learnt it from my Mother-In-Law.I am a Udupi Madhva Brahmin and i’m married to Kannadiga.

    Here it goes


    1 1/2 cup maida (All purpose flour)
    1 cup confectionery sugar (Powdered sugar)
    1 tbsp rice powder
    Ghee (Indian clarified butter)


    Mix sugar, ghee and kneed it to a hard consistency.
    Kneed Maida, rice powder, little bit of heated ghee to the mixture and water and mix it to the consistency of a puri dough.

    Make tiny portions of dough out of both the mixture seperately.

    Take two portion of maida dough roll out a 3″ round each seperately, place the sugar ball on one of the dough place the other maida dough roll on it. Press it gently with your hand and roll it on a wax paper. Use rice powder if it sticks to your rolling pin. place it on the tava and bake it till it slightly brown.

    Happy cooking!

    1. Hello Roopa,
      I have my Sis in laws recipe for Menthya dose, I have tried it only a couple of times, so I did not put it on my blog, I found it to be pretty good. You can try it-
      Soak separately for about 4 hours-
      1. 3 measures Rice
      2. 3/4 measure Urad Dal
      3. 1/2 measure Methi seeds

      Methi makes the Dosa extremely soft, so don’t add any avalakki. Grind all the ingredients and mix and let the mixture ferment overnight. Add salt in the morning, and make the Dosas. I would recommend using a good non stick Tava, because this dosa is a little difficult to make.
      I am not sure about other Bananthi Foods, but I can get the recipe for Sabbasige soppina palya, Garlic Chutney pudi and Antina unde, if you want.

      Roopa Hariprasad

      1. Thank you Very much RH. I will try this out today. Pl do give me whatever recipes you can on Bananthi aduge. If you can recom any body who make “lehya, choorna”etc in Bangalore/Mysore –will be a great help.
        My basic req is –I need guidence and help to do bananthana.
        Thanks once again for the quick replywith regards

      2. I will try my best to get the recipes for you. My Cousin, who is generally the ‘banathana’ expert is currently travelling, so I need to talk to her after she gets back. I will also check if she knows anyone who makes all these herbal medicines and get back to you.

    1. Hello Roopa,
      My cousin is not feeling too well. I did try to call her and ask, but seeing her condition I don’t know if she will be able to help.
      I am sorry!!

      1. Thanks for your concern & effort. Wishing your cousin a speedy recovery. Take care. -if any of your readers can help/ guide me -regarding bananthi adige & care to b taken – I will be grateful. –RJ

  3. Hi Roopa, as many have already mentioned here, I happened to stumble upon your blog yesterday. It brought my childhood memories back. I am also from a traditional Madhwa family from Bangalore and can relate to all those practices and recipes that you have highlighted. Some of the terms that you have mentioned (naalak kalu, goli gathra…) infact my Ajji used them too and I still remember all those yummy dishes she made. Nostalgic!! and you just brought them all back! I am glad I read all your recipes and posts. I have copied all your recipes and will try one by one. I will look forward for more recipes from you. Keep posting!

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