A Complete Guide to Local Food in Mysore

Mysore (well, as any other Indian city) is home to delicious and unique foods that you may not find anywhere else. The city is a paradise for vegetarians, but not without an exception – especially if you get curious enough to try Coorg/Kodava cuisine, which is well represented in Mysore.

Mysore

Our food guide includes not just the traditional dishes from Mysore, but many more from other cities and provinces that could be easily found in the restaurants. Are you feeling hungry yet? Then make sure you don’t read this post on an empty stomach – welcome to our complete guide to the famous foods of Mysore.

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BREAKFAST

1. Idli

One of the healthiest and lightest breakfasts in South India. Idlis are steamed cakes made out of rice and gram (lentil) flour. Served with spicy lentil soup (sambar) and coconut chutney (the spiciness of which varies according to restaurants). You can also order “sambar ildi” – then idlis will be dipped in a bowl of sambar and the dish will rather resemble a soup. One of the famous variations of idli is rava idli (made with semolina instead of rice and gram flour).

2. Vada

Vada might look to you like a donut – but don’t get fooled, a pleasant savory taste of it might be quite far from the sweetness you would expect! Vada is made from a mixture of black gram (lentil) flour, cumin, curry leaves, sometimes onions and chilli, and it is deep-fried to a crispy crust. Like ildi, vada is served with a bowl of spicy lentil soup (sambar) and coconut chutney. You will often see locals saying shortly to a waiter “idli-vada”, as it is the most popular combination for breakfast. Ask for “vada-sambar” if you want it to be dipped in a bowl of sambar, like a soup.

3. Bonda

Bonda, a ball-shaped breakfast or lunch item, is made of rice flour and chickpea flour, seasoned with spices, dipped in chickpea batter and deep-fried. Like other breakfast options, it is served with sambar and coconut chutney. There are a few variations of this vada and all of them are worth a try:

 – bonda soup: bonda is dipped in sambar and is eaten like a soup

– potato (aloo) bonda: the core of this delicious bonda is a mashed potato spiced and mixed with a generous amount of dill. The mash is then made into balls, dipped in lentil flour batter and deep fried into golden crispy balls.

4. Khara bath/Uppithu/Upma

Khara Bath, also known as Upma or Uppithu, is a typical South Indian breakfast. It is made from semolina (coarse, purified wheat middlings), which is roasted with vegetables and spices. It is just like a savoury porridge and is usually never prepared too spicy. Sometimes it is served with coconut chutney.

5. Kesari bath (Chow Chow Bath if served together with Khara bath) 

Kesari bath is a sweet dish which is also cooked from semolina, but together with sugar and saffron, and then topped with ceshews. It is also a popular breakfast item and it is often served together with Khara bath. When served together the dish is called Chow chow cath.

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DOSA (BREAKFAST/LUNCH)

Dosa is the most famous dish of South India and each city has its unique way of preparation. This dish resembles a pancake, which is made from a fermented dough of rice and gram flour. Thick or thin, spicy or bland, with vegetables or without, crispy or soft – you can find anything you feel like! Here are the main types of dosas you can enjoy in Mysore:

1. Masala Dosa (Mysore style)
Mysoreans like their dosa rather thick and buttery, with spiced potato (masala dosa) or other vegetables (saagu dosa) inside. It is also laced with a thin paste of groundnut. Traditionally it is served on a banana leave with coconut chutney. The most famous place to try Mysorean dosa is Mylari Hotel in the city: a legendary place, which only serves dosas, produced at a rate of 400 pieces an hour.

2. Paper Dosa

Unlike a typical Mysorean style dosa, paper dosa is extremely thin and crispy. It may be enormous in length (up to 1 m), but actually the amount of dough used is almost the same like for a Mysore dosa, it is just spread differently.

3. Open Dosa

Same as Mysore dosa, but not folded and kept open:

4. Rava (Semolina) Dosa

As the name suggests, it’s a dosa made from semolina, instead of rice and lentil flour.

5. Onion dosa

Similar to the Mysore open dosa, but topped with raw onions and is often served with vegetable curry instead of sambar:

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LUNCH/DINNER

1. Thali

The most common dish to eat for lunch is Thali. It consists of not one, but several dishes, served on a huge plate, mostly accompanied by a variety of Indian breads and rice. Thalis can vary in size and price tremendously, featuring between 5 and 20 dishes on one plate and costing anything between 50 and 700 rupees. Most local Mysorean restaurants will serve a vegetarian thali. You would need to look specifically for non-veg options.
2. Brahmin food
Mysore is known for its Brahmin community and their restaurants serve delicious South Indian food. Lunch is served on a banana leaf, but the dishes differ from other Mysore thalis. The cuisine is strictly vegetarian, they also do not use onion and garlic in their food and give preference to spices with strong medicinal properties.

3. Coorg/Kodavas Cuisine

Coorg (Kodagu district) is a region that lies merely 100 km away from Mysore. It is known for its coffee (which is highly recommended!) and hill stations. Coorg cuisine is very different from Mysorean but is easily available in the city – it serves as a favourite alternative for thalis and dosas. On the contrary, to Mysorean food, it is rich in meat. Some of the most popular things you can try are (from left to right): (1) Pandi curry with Kadambuttu (pork curry served with rice balls); (2) Fish fry.