Jaipur, October, 2022.
It’s not unusual to find south Indian food in other parts of India. In fact, the ubiquitous dosa and idli and vadas are available in its various avatars across the country – from fine-dining restaurants to street stalls. However, to find a restaurant that focuses on the local food of Karnataka, and that too in a city such as Jaipur, might be considered slightly unusual. But that did not deter Siddharth Goenka to open Annpoornam, a vegetarian restaurant, in the Pink City. “Regional food from Karnataka is underrepresented in India. If you go to what people call south Indian restaurants anywhere else, what you’ll mostly find is generic food or food that is borrowed heavily from Kerala or Andhra. But there is a lot Karnataka can offer too, and I wanted to focus on that,” he says.
Goenka, who might have his roots in Rajasthan, has been in Bengaluru for more than 30 years, and Annpoornam is his tribute to the State that has given him so much, and decided to take its cuisine to Jaipur.
The restaurant, which caters to both the quick service and sit-down formats, has been designed after the Belur temples of Karnataka. From the structure to the murals to the little decorative details – Goenka has ensured that they adhered to the general appeal of one of the most popular temple towns of the south.
The kitchen is led by cooks from Mysuru and the menus are extremely focused on the State. From the idli and wada and min-wada sambar to the ghee mini idlis in sambar and pongal and various kinds of baths (rice preparations) – all of which are incredibly popular breakfasts in Karnataka, one can find local delicacies and food that is usually made only at homes.
So while you will also get a range of dosas – plain, ghee masala, butter – you’ll also get the thatteidli, millet idli and the Kancheepuram idli – treats that are rarely seen outside of the State of Karnataka.
To indulge in something absolutely local, the thalis are a must-try. They give you a taste of what Karnataka eats on a daily basis, including the bisibele bath, puliyogare, pulavs and of course the famous curd rice.
For those who are not a big fan of rice, the akki roti or the ragi roti combo is recommended. All the thalis are served with podis, chutneys and kormas.
The menu touches upon what’s commercially popular as well – the paneer 65 and the gobi 65 as well. After all, what is Karnataka without its famous QSR outlets serving such dishes. Most of the fast foods are inspired by the Darshinis of the State – eateries that dot the entire topography of Karnataka, mostly the urban areas.
Wash the feast down with traditional filter coffee or hot badam milk, or the masala majjige (buttermilk) on a warm day.
“I am looking forward to giving Jaipur an experience that is typical of Karnataka. Our chefs are all from Mysuru and come with years of experience, which will ensure the legitimacy of recipes and flavours. The walls of the restaurants, all of which were constructed and designed by experts from Karnataka, will transport guests to the temples of Belur and give them a glimpse into traditional architecture of the State. Even the paintings on the wall are inspired from the temples and have been custom-created for Annpoornam,” says Goenka.