Bengaluru in Jan: 3 epic food festivals offering a culinary journey of Karnataka!

Although January is an excellent time to be pretty much anywhere in India and enjoy the place, i’m a bit biased about Bengaluru as an epicurean nomad who will go anywhere for great food. Let me give you 3 excellent reasons why every year, the first place i think of at the start of the year is… Bengaluru!

1. Avarekei Mela

When & Where: 1st & 2nd week of January, VV Puram (Thindi Beedi)

Come January, and Bengaluru celebrates the ‘avere bele’ (also known as avarekai) festival where everything is made from avere bele beans, which are a winter specialty in Karnataka.

Big thanks to my friend Sankara of Be On The Road for introducing me to this fest and the ‘foodie lane’ of Bengaluru i never knew about! — Thindi Bheedi, VV Puram.

Do check out his well curated list of Top 10 Traditional Joints of South Bengaluru.

Legend has it that Bengaluru gets its name from the humble avare bele beans!
“benda-kaal-uru” literally means “town of boiled beans“.


We tried a bunch of avare bele dishes including dosas, vadas, payasam & finished each course with a hollige (think puran poli).

the avare bele beans all spiced and tossed up and ready to be stuffed into thingamajigs
the avere bele dose reminded me of another Bengaluru favorite, akki roti.
avere bele beans sold by the kilo (roughly Rs.10)

The entire premise of this festival is to relish the winter gift of the land – the seasonal avere bele beans.

While most stalls dish up traditional dishes made with the beans, you can also expect some fusion food like avare bele ice-cream and although i didn’t try it myself – i even found a avare bele pizza recipe via Explocity!

Don’t just take my word for it – mark your calendar and don’t miss this annual extravaganza of authentic local food if you’re in Bengaluru in early January!

JUST IN: From the 19th of Feb. to the 29th of Feb. 2020, Carnatic Restaurant is hosting its own avarekaal festival at their Church Street & J P Nagar outlets in Bengaluru.

Further Reading:
* Avare mela adds beans to the city – Deccan Herald
* Avarekai mela 2019 – Explocity Bangalore

2. MTR Food Festival: Karunadu Swada / Telugu Ruchulu

When & Where: 2nd / 3rd week of January, St.John’s Auditorium, Koramangala

2020 Update: This year, MTR is focusing on Telugu foods with a 2-day Telugu Ruchulu event in Bengaluru, at the Banjara Function Hall on 18th & 19th Jan.

MTR Karunadu Swada – a culinary journey through Karnataka

I discovered this food festival via Facebook Events – perhaps the best events discovery avenue out there. Bringing together authentic rural foods from all over Karnataka, i was already sold on the concept of MTR Karunadu Swada before visiting it. The verdict after visiting? I wished i had 2 extra stomachs to do justice to the amazingness 🙂

Always someone to embrace hyperlocal cuisine, I discovered SO MUCH about Karnataka’s rich culinary heritage that it made me wonder – why don’t we get to eat all this variety in the commercial restaurants? Perhaps that’s why such festivals are needed more than ever. Here’s a short video i made while enjoying the fest…

local picks from Udipi. my favorite was the kadabu (steamed idli wrapped in banana leaf)

While exiting, a curious gentleman asked us for
feedback and i casually asked him if he was an organizer.
“umm, i’m the CEO of MTR. i hope you liked the fest.
it’s the first time we’re doing this”, he replied.

ok MTR, you just doubled my respect for you! 🙂

Further Reading:
* Karunadu Swada – MTR Karnataka Food Festival – Fodyssey

3. Organics & Millets International Trade Fair

When & Where: 2nd / 3rd week of January, Palace Grounds

An excellent government initiative to promote organics & millets, the aptly named Organics & Millets International Fair is truly a celebration of India’s agricultural and culinary diversity!

Bringing farmers, consumers and traders under one roof, it’s an unmissable expo if you’re someone like me – appreciating the gifts of the soil and enjoying local dishes made from nutritious, seasonal produce which is always healthier and better than any packaged food you could ever grab your hands on.

The Fair will address all aspects of the value chain, from farm to shelf, in organic and millet segments. It aims to create/enhance new markets and opportunities in organics and millets.

besides the refreshingly yummy raviteja juice, loved me this unique bamboo rice juice at the Organics & Millets – National Trade Fair Expo

As a traveller who is happy to go the distance just for the love of good food, these 3 discoveries make me always dream about being in Bengaluru in the month of January every year!

Looking for a place to stay in Bengaluru to make the most of the January festive season? There’s a blog post for that!


Exotic Gringo (Kaushal Karkhanis)

Leading an experimental life as a digital nomad, I started traveling in 2007 while choosing to shuttle between Goa and Mumbai as 'home'. An epic life-changing trip to South America an year later gave birth to this blog, Exotic Gringo.