Though our usual breakfast is a piece of buttered toast or a small bowl of cereals before rushing to work, most of us are aware of the staggering variety of food made in India as the first meal of the day. A year back, when another edition of Huffington Post was compiling an article on breakfasts from across the world and wanted inputs from several international editions, we were faced with a perplexing problem. Because there was no one Indian breakfast!
While several regions in India do not have a traditional practice of eating breakfast, there's a dizzying array of dishes consumed in the states across the country every morning. Seen together they reflect incredible culinary diversity as well as thread of continuity in the food habits of different regions. Here are some of the most popular and delicious ones.
The inventive pesarattu upma combines two popular breakfast dishes into one wholesome and satisfying one. It comprises a lentil dosa made from a batter of ground green gram dal, and stuffed with semolina upma instead of the usual potato filling. It is also known as MLA pesarattu, supposedly because it was invented in the canteen of the MLA quarters in Hyderabad. The classic version of pesarattu, made without upma, is popular throughout Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Here is a recipe for pesarattu upma.
The traditional Assamese no-cook breakfast or jolpaan is both healthy and easy to make. It comprises of soaked chivda/chira or flattened rice served with a dollop of yoghurt, milk or cream, with jaggery on the side. The rice-loving Assamese have several variations of the dish with puffed rice (muri) ground roasted rice (xandoh) and sticky rice (bora saul).
Here is a recipe for chira-doi-gur.
This healthy puttu utilises two of the most common ingredients in Kerala cuisine: rice and coconut. Puttu is a soft steamed rice cake, made with rice flour and grated coconut which is traditionally steamed inside a bamboo stalk. It is usually paired with kadala (black chickpeas) curry, but it can also be had with fish curry, jackfruit and other vegetables. Rice flour is also the key ingredient in two other breakfast favourites, the lacy appams and the noodle-like idiyappams, which are eaten with a curry or stew made with egg, chicken or vegetables.
Here is a simple recipe for puttu, but you can also make more complex variants using scrambled egg masala or keema.
Delicious urad dal kochuris accompanied by flavourful aloo dum curry and chholar dal -- the Bengali morning meal is truly a breakfast of champions. While the combination of fried luchis and aloo tarkari is more common as an everyday breakfast option, the more elaborate radhaballabhi has a festive character.
Here is a recipe for radhaballavi and dry aloo dum.
Madhya Pradesh's love affair with poha is common knowledge, but the poha-jalebi combination is especially famous in Indore. The poha here is simultaneously sweet and salty, and a play of different textures. The poha itself is light and fluffy, generously peppered with cashewnuts and peanuts, and topped with sev for that extra crunch. Served with crispy jalebis, it makes for a supremely satisfying breakfast.
Try this recipe for Indori poha.
Don't confuse the classic Goan breakfast combination of bhaji and pav with the similar-sounding Mumbai street snack. Also known as patal bhaji or tonak, the bhaji here is a spicy curry made with potatoes, coconut, roasted whole spices, and occasionally dry white peas. It is served in local Goan restaurants with soft and fluffy pav, which is freshly baked in wood-fired mud ovens by local bakeries every morning.
A popular non-vegetarian alternative is the pita-like soft bread called poi, stuffed with Goa's delicious spiced pork sausages chorizo.
Get the recipe for Goan bhaji-pavhere.
Jammu and Kashmir
Kashmir has a long tradition of baking in tandoors, so a typical breakfast often comprises of several freshly-baked breads bought from the local bakery or kandur. It is usually served with butter, salty noon chai, and occasionally eggs. Local breads such as the disc-shaped flatbread girda and the thin and large pita-like lavaas, are consumed with pink noonchai, or green tea made with milk, salt, baking soda and cardamom. In winter, the breads are paired with a slow-cooked lamb paste called hareesa.
A traditional Manipuri breakfast includes a savoury flatbread called tan, which is had with changang or black tea. According to Manipuri food blogger Pushpita Aheibam, there are several variations of tan: it can be deep fried or served as a savoury crepe made on traditional iron skillet with rice flour, salt and water. The latter is know as the temai tan and can be additionally seasoned with turmeric powder, maroi nakuppi or garlic chives, and freshly grated ginger to enhance the flavour.
Try this recipe for a sweet tan with jaggery.
Punjab's love for paranthas is India's worst kept secret. Stuffed with spiced potatoes, radish, paneer or cauliflower and topped with a dollop of butter, there are few breakfasts more ubiquitous than paranthas.
While idli and dosa is easily available in Karnataka, the akki roti is unique to the state. This thin pancake is made of rice flour, chopped vegetables and spices, and had with molga podi. The thin crepe-like neer dosa is a cousin of the akki roti. While it is made with rice flour and simple to prepare, it is flavoured only with coconut.
Here is a recipe of akki roti.
The light and healthy Odia dish santula can comprise of vegetables like potato, brinjal and ladyfingers, which are steamed and light sauteed, and eaten with rotis or paranthas. It can also be fried and served in the form of vegetable fritters. Like in Assam, mudhi (puffed rice) and poha (flattened rice) is also a popular breakfast option, eaten with curd, banana and sugar. Another common Odia breakfast combination is chakuli pitha (fried rice cakes) eaten with ghuguni or white pea curry.
Here is a recipe for a santula curry.
Bihar's breakfast of choice are sattu paranthas, stuffed with spices and sattu or a flour made with roasted gram flour and grains. Sattu is also stuffed in littis (dumplings) and mixed with water, lemon and cumin powder as a refreshing drink.
Another popular breakfast option in Bihar is puffed rice (chuda) mixed with curd and sugar, or eaten with pickles, vegetables or sprouted lentils.
Here is a recipe for organic sattu parantha.
The major cities in the desert state are partial to a tantalising variety of fried breakfast street dishes. Think piping hot samosas, Jodhpur's fiery mirchi vadas and Jaipur's flaky onion, asfoetida and dal kachoris, all washed down with a glass of hot milk or lassi. Outside the cities though, the traditional breakfast consists of a hearty meal of bajra rotis with curd and garlic chutney.
For Gujaratis, the thepla is an anytime snack -- it can be had for breakfast, tea or even packed for a trip abroad. It is traditionally made with whole wheat flour, gram flour and fresh fenugreek (methi) leaves, but you can also find variations with jowar, bajra and other greens. Theplas are usually eaten with a tangy mango pickle such as the chhundo or murabba.
Try this methi thepla recipe.
A typical breakfast in Uttar Pradesh is an exquisite mix of sweet and spicy flavours. Mornings start with spicy puri-like kachoris stuffed with spices and ground urad dal, and served with potato or pumpkin curry. It is followed by a plate of crisp and hot jalebis. Another winter delicacy in Varanasi is the chooda matar, made with flattened rice (chiwra) and fresh green peas. Lucknow's breakfast specialty is paya-kulcha, or hot mutton soup served with flaky bread.
Here is a recipe for Banarasi kachori-sabzi.
Everyone is familiar with idli-sambar, but it is the tiffin which provides the entire degustatory experience of Tamil cuisine's diverse tastes and smells. A tiffin can include everything from steamed rice idlis, masala dosa and medhu vada, to semolina upma and tangy sambhar and an assortment of chutneys. All washed down with a piping hot filter coffee of course.
Here's how you can make a tiffin.
Maharashtrian cuisine has a plethora of breakfast options such as the onion-flecked kanda poha, kothimbir vadi, sabudana khichdi and vada, and the nutrient-rich thalipeeth. The thalipeeth is a thick pancake whose dough is made from multigrain flour, which includes amaranth, tapioca, wheat, rice and spices. Here is a recipe for thalipeeth.
Haryana's simple and hearty fare reflects its agrarian roots. Mornings usually begin with a meal of missi roti made with wheat and chana flour, a dollop of white butter, green chilli pickle and a glass of buttermilk or curd. Traditionally in winter, homes in Haryana villages started the day with khichadi made with the nutrient-rich bajra or pearl millet, with lots of butter and hot milk. In summer, this was substituted with rabadi, a fermented porridge made with beaten wheat or chana dal and had with buttermilk.