Craving Mangalore buns, mandakki upkari and khotte kadabu? Bengaluru-based couple Suhas Karanth and Raksha Prasad are recreating the authentic food of Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada district.
Growing up in the hustle and bustle of Bengaluru, Suhas Karanth constantly longed for his coastal hometown Kundapura in the Udupi district, especially for its rich cuisine.
“I was a foodie since my childhood. Back in my hometown, I used to hog on the food that my grandma cooked. But while in Bangalore, I only had a few South Indian food options like dosas, vadas, and idlis, which also lacked taste and quality,” Suhas tells The Better India.
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“My grandma used to cook the simplest foods with a handful of ingredients, yet they were filled with flavours,” he recalls.
Bengaluru boasts over 12,000 restaurants serving a variety of dosas, but Suhas says he noticed a lack of authentic Dakshina (South) Karnataka cuisine, particularly from his hometown Kundapura. To honour its culinary legacy, he and his wife Raksha Prasad started ‘Jagli Tindi’ restaurant in J P Nagar, Bengaluru.
Today, the eatery lures up to 1,200 foodies per day with its signature food delicacies — including avalakki bath, Mangalore buns, mandakki upkari, khotte kadabu, ghee jaggery ragi halbai, gasagase payasa, and more.
Bringing South Canara delicacies to Bengaluru
A graduate in business management, Suhas worked with multinational companies like Wipro and Aegon Religare for about eight years. Other than corporate work, he has always been passionate about fitness and health.
“I have seen people struggle with body shaming and low self-esteem. In fact, I myself struggled with the same. It took me two years to go from weighing 135 to 75 kg. It not only made me look good from the outside but also gave me self-confidence, self-respect and self-motivation,” he says adding that he went on to help other people in their transformation journey.
“We cannot ignore the fact that the food we eat has a crucial role to play,” says the 33-year-old. “In cities like Bangalore, people are forced to eat poor-quality fast food. They remain unaware of the amounts of calories that go into their diet. Most of the restaurants use food colours, artificial flavour enhancers like MSG, adulterated lemon salt, and vanaspati.”
So when he and his wife launched Jagli Tindi in 2019, they kept health and nutrition intrinsic to the brand.
Talking about the couple’s dream, he shares, “Since the time we were dating, Raksha and I wanted to run a business together. Instead of going on honeymoon, we started the restaurant just six months after our marriage. This is our first baby,” he smiles.
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Jagli Tindi, which translates to ‘food relished while sitting on a traditional deck area’ in Kannada, offers about 30 varieties of tempting Kundapura food. Priced between Rs 15 and Rs 120, the restaurant aims to serve nutritious food to people irrespective of income backgrounds.
Suhas says his restaurant attracts significant footfall every day. “Many people from across Karnataka move from their native places to Bangalore for work. Like me, they regularly crave traditional food. Whenever I interact with my customers, they tell me how they come to us to reminisce about their hometowns and recreate memories of what their mothers cooked,” he says.
Their mandakki upkari is among the bestsellers. Served on a banana leaf, the delicacy is made with red puffed rice and is tossed with their ‘secret’ podi mix and onions. It is then topped with grated coconut and a good deal of peanuts.
Vignesh Holla, who hails from Udupi district, is a regular customer. “I have been visiting their restaurant for about four years now. Since day one, the flavours have been consistent. I feel homely whenever I go there and feel connected to my hometown with the food they offer,” he reiterates.
“The kind of food it offers makes the restaurant unique. I love to relish their avalakki bath, mandakki upkari, and khotte kadabu. You don’t find all these dishes in other restaurants in Bangalore,” Vignesh tells The Better India.
“Usually, cooks pour in a good deal of oils in the dosas. Often, I would encounter throat infections because of this. That is why I limited myself to this particular restaurant. Although this restaurant is 15 km away from my home, I find time to visit it at least twice a month,” he adds.
Our recipe for success
Today, the couple’s restaurant has become a go-to place for many foodies across the city. But this journey has not been without its own share of challenges.
“We have seen a lot of ups and downs. On the first anniversary of Jagli Tindi, we had to shut the restaurant due to the [COVID-19-induced] lockdown. We restarted it after taking loans. I sold my superbike as well. Unfortunately, we had to close it when the second lockdown was announced amid low sales,” says Suhas.
In all, the newlywed couple were burdened with a loan of Rs 12 lakh. “We did not want to give up on our dream. Without giving up hope, we pooled some money and went to cities like Hyderabad and Delhi to meet investors from the Taj Hotel, Radisson Blu, and Ashoka Hotel. They were impressed by our idea and invested in our work, and finally, we reopened our restaurant,” he adds.
Suhas says he does not come from any culinary background. In fact, he says, he did not even know the difference between urad (black gram) and chana dal (chickpea). Over the years, the couple learnt everything from scratch on their own and established the restaurant by using their grandma’s recipes and recreating delicacies from South Karnataka.
For Suhas, the journey has been full of learning, but at the same time, he feels immensely contented. “When I retire to my bed, I sleep peacefully knowing the value of the work I do. With this, I am able to revive my native delicacies in the simplest form with high nutritional value — just the way my grandma offered it to us,” he shares.
Edited by Pranita Bhat. All photos: Jagli Tindi.
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