A culinary walk through Gokarna!
Updated: Feb 11, 2019
We human beings are highly sensory beings, so needless to say when we travel to new places it is not just the hosts or the hotels, but the sights, smells and sounds of the place that give you a welcoming embrace and endears you to it. But as the famous author Rudyard Kipling puts it “Smells are surer than sounds or sights to make the heartstrings crack”. And in the land of spices, we can narrow down the ‘smells’ further to the smells of flavorful food!
The Konkan coast that spans the three states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka boasts of a rich cultural heritage and consequently a well-developed and well-loved cuisine that has influences from nearby states and also from countries across the oceans. The cuisine of the North Kanara region of the Konkan that includes Gokarna and Kumka is predominantly Konkani. As with most coastal regions, local produce and freshly caught sea-food finds their way to the plates and palates. Ample use of Coconuts, Jackfruit, Mango, and local spices and souring agents like Kokkum Teppal and Bimbal characterise the cuisine in Gokarna. But one must admit that the ever growing influx of hippie tourists from the west has made a mark on the place’s culinary landscape too. Or why would a dish like ‘Prawn Pizzas’ served in Plantain leaves make it to the menus? When you are savouring the out of world experiences in Gokarna’s resorts, make sure to seal your memory of the place with these ticklers of your taste buds.
Breaking the night’s fast
Breakfast served in the shacks and resorts of Gokarna feature typical South Indian foods like Idli and dosas along with regional specialties like Holige, Todadevu, Patrode, Uppittu, Upma and Kalayile phovu. Some restaurants offer ‘touristy’ options like Nutella pancakes and English breakfast to kick start your day.
Tummy ﬁlling Thalis
Most restaurants here serve all-you -can-eat thalis with traditional preparations of rice and rotis with saru, gojju, palya, thovve and other accompaniments which together tie up a sumptuous meal. To cater to the devout who flock to Gokarna to seek the blessings of the Divine and to perform rituals there are restaurants serving only vegetarian food. For the other meat-eating tourists who come on pleasurable pursuits there are spicy chicken chilly (else where in India it is chilly chicken), ‘Achuta leg piece’ and other non vegetarian fare to delight their taste buds.
And next comes the most integral part of Northern Kanara’s cuisine - The Seafood! When you bring ‘Gokarna’ and ‘food’ in the same frame, the first image to strike will be the fresh and delectable sea-food. Fresh catch from the sea, fried or curried with the distinctly spicy marinades of the region makes Gokarna a paradise for sea-food lovers. Clam curry, Prawn masala, Pomfret and King fish and Seer fish sizzlers are some of the gastronomic delights that you better not miss!
A world within the world!
And for experimental Indian tourists and non experimental foreigners there are restaurants that serve Italian, Mexican, Israeli and other cuisines albeit mostly with an Indian twist. ( Like the Prawn pizza on banana leaf!) Most tourists to Gokarna list Kombucha, Iced Nutella, Prawn pizza, Sea food lasagna as must- tries from these hybrid restaurants.
Desserts to die for!
To get through the sunny tropical climate that prevails in the region through most of the year and for the energy consuming physical exertions at the beach, soothing beverages and cooling desserts are a necessity. You can quench your thirst with tender coconut or Nimbu and shunt sodas or the local Ragi Neeru and Teela Udak . You can also cool your tongue with the quirky Nutella Ice and the sinful Ghadbad Ice-cream (A sundae made from different ice creams, sauces, fruits and nuts), When it comes to desserts, visitors to Gokarna are spoilt for choices! Then for those with the sweet tooth, there are local delicacies like ghanti, sati,misal bhaaji to satisfy your sweet cravings.