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Home/mumbai/ The Breakfast Story

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A firm believer of the saying ‘all happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast’; Shirin Mehrotra talks about traditional breakfasts in various parts of India.

While India has always been a country of heavy lunches, our breakfasts are no less indulgent. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari we practically eat everything right from freshly baked bread to spicy and rich mutton gravy for breakfast.

Srinagar

Girda with Noon Chai, Srinagar

The residents of this ‘heaven on Earth’ wake up to this slightly sweet, pink coloured tea called Noon chai. Prepared with tealeaves, milk, salt, pistachios, almonds and cardamom, this tea keeps them warm during chilly winter mornings. This is followed by local breads, mainly Girda – fermented sweet bread with poppy seeds or Baqerkhani – spiced, flaky flat-bread made with flour, semolina, molasses and topped with sesame seeds. A cup of tea and a portion of bread will cost you a modest Rs 10-15.

Chole kulche with Lassi, Amritsar

A typical day in Amritsar starts with Chole – boiled chickpeas in spicy curry and Kulche – layered flat-bread stuffed with potato or paneer and cooked in tandoor with spoonsful of butter. A tall glass of thick Lassi – a thick yoghurt-based drink with a dollop of cream to garnish completes finish to the breakfast. A very satisfying meal for one will cost you Rs 100 at any dhaba here. We suggest heading to Ashok Kulche Wala or Harbans Lal Kulche Wala to try some of this.

Aloo paratha with Lassi, Chandigarh

Like Amritsar, Chandigarh also like its breakfast heavy - loaded with butter and served with a large glass of lassi. The humble aloo paratha – Indian flat bread stuffed with mashed potatoes and shallow fried on a griddle is one of the most popularly consumed breakfasts here, both on the streets and at home. Parathas here are typically served with a dollop of white butter, yogurt and pickle on side. Head to Katani Vaishno Dhaba or Sher-e-Punjab where a filling breakfast will cost you approximately Rs 50.

Delhi

Nihari and khameeri roti, Delhi

While general perception is that Delhi loves to wake up to Aloo parathas and Chole bhature, the Nawabi influence on this city’s cuisine tells a different story. The kitchens in the by lanes near Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk stir up some delicious Nihari – slow cooked mutton in a spicy curry flavoured with close to 50 different spices. Nihari is best eaten with khameeri roti – soft Indian flatbread made that employs a subtle use of yeast. A meal will easily cost under Rs 70 at Haji Noora Ki Nihari, one of the oldest and most famous nihari outlets in Old Delhi.

Khasta kachori, Lucknow

The city of Nawabs prefers Khasta kachori for breakfast. The deep fried flaky pastry is stuffed with lentils and is eaten with a simple, yet fiery potato stew. A plate of khasta will cost you Rs 16 at Ratti Lal’s, one of the most famous shop in Lalbagh.

Courtesy - Banaraskakhana.com

Chooda matar, Varanasi

Hot kachoris, samosas, gulab jamuns and jalebis frying in woks with tourists queuing up for a grub is a typical early-morning scene near the ghats in Varanasi. But the locals fall back on the humble Chooda matar for breakfast. The dish is an Eastern Uttar Pradesh version of the Indori pohe prepared with flattened rice and green peas and served with a garnish of fresh coriander and a spritz of lime.

Puri, subzi, Patna

A aloo gobhi ki subzi – vegetable preparation with potato and cabbage, puri, jalebis and a glass of milk would usually sound like lunch, but residents of Bihar prefer the hearty meal for breakfast. Deep-fried puris with dry potato and cauliflower preparation is washed down with a glass of thick milk.

Kolkata

Panta bhat, Kolkata

Kolkata might have Flury’s where people flock every now and then for a hearty breakfast, but a traditional morning meal in West Bengal is usually more wholesome. Fermented rice called Panta bhat is made with left over rice that is soaked overnight in water. Usually eaten with salt, onions, chilli and/or fried fish, its delicious. There’s never been a better reason to have Bengali friends, because the best place to try this is at a local home.

Manipur

Tan and changaang, Manipur

The small restaurants in Manipur open as early as 6 in the morning and start serving the breakfast combo of Tan and changaang. Tan loosely translates to mean any Indian flatbread, but for breakfast, the locals usually prefer the deep fried puri. Tan is eaten with a green split pea and dry pumpkin preparation. The Changaang or sweetened black tea is usually served piping hot alongside.

Jolpan, Assam

The traditional breakfast in Assam consists of jolpan, a mini meal in itself. Jolpan consists of a rice preparation, pitha – rice cake or pancake, laddoo – ball shaped sweet made of coconut or sesame seeds and tea. The rice preparation is the main feature of jolpan and is prepared in various ways; bora saul – boiled rice, chira – flattened rice, muri – puffed rice, pithaguri – fried rice flour, suji or semolina cooked in water and milk are some of the most common ones. These are served with curd or milk and sugar or jaggery.

Pohe – Jalebi, IndoreOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Known to locals as ‘mini Mumbai’, this city bears some resemblance to the maximum city in the sheer variety of foods available especially in the bylanes of Sarafa Bazaar. An ideal breakfast here involves a bowl of steaming pohe – flat rice cooked with curry leaves, potato, onion and peanuts; crisp jalebis – deep-fried swirls of dough dunked in sugar syrup - and a hot cup of tea. At Rs 20 per plate for pohe and jalebi, it’s a steal.

Pyaz ki kachori, Jaipur

A typical morning in Jaipur usually has people huddled at little shops to eat freshly fried Onion kachoris – hollow, deep fried, savoury pastry shells stuffed with onion and served with sweet and spicy chutneys, and jalebis. When you are in Jaipur head to Rawat Mishthan Bhandar for the best Pyaz ki kachori in town. One kachori (Rs 30) can make for a very filling meal.

UdaipurKachori chaat, Udaipur

As soon as the Sun is up in Udaipur, the stalls around Jagdish Temple bring the woks of hot oil out to fry fresh kachoris and samosas. These are made into a chaat – savoury snack preparation by adding chole , sweet and spicy chutney, peanuts and onions. For this hit of flavours first thing in the morning, head to the shops near Jagdish Temple for kachori chaat and tea for a modest Rs 45.

Fafda – Jalebi, Ahmedabad

There’s an almost never-ending list of snacks when it comes to Gujarati cuisine. Some of the most popular include fafda – spiced gram flour rolled into a thin pastry and deep fried and of course, sweet, crisp, and thin jalebis. Prices range between Rs 200 – 250 per kg of fafda and Rs 300 – 375 per kg of jalebi in most places.

Sabudana vada with cutting chai, Mumbai

The city that seems to work 24/7 depends on a steady supply of pohe and sabudana vadas – tapioca pearls and potatoes mixed with spices and peanuts and then deep-fried. Multiple little cups of strong, sweet milky tea or cutting chai through the morning keep energy levels up while the vadas make up the carb quotient. Prakash in Dadar serves some of most deliciously plump vadas with a crunchy shell at Rs 40 per plate, which includes two vadas, sweetened yogurt and coconut chutney.

Missal pao, PuneMisal Pao

The laidback city loves waking up to some fiery missal – white peas, peanuts and fried snacks in a spicy curry, with pao. Missal is topped with an extra serving of chilli oil on request, which is definitely not for the weak hearted. Bedekar Tea Stall at Narayan Peth is well known for its missal pav (Rs 50 per plate).

KeralaIdiyappam with Egg curry, Alleppuzha

While the general notion is that all of South India turns to idli, dosa and sambhar for breakfast it’s not entirely true. Idiyappam – steamed rice flour noodles, is one of the most popular breakfasts in Kerala and some parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The dish is generally accompanied with coconut milk laden egg curry, coconut chutney or sambhar. Try this meal for not more than Rs 100 at Halais, one of the more popular restuarants in the area.

Idli – sambhar with Filter coffee, Chennai

The folks in the Southern quadrant of the country often wake up to a breakfast of fluffy white idlies (steamed rice flour batter) and a bowlful of the deep yellow-coloured and piping hot sambhar. Add to it a hot cup of locally grown filter coffee and your nutritional quota for the day just got a great kick-start. A portion of Idli sambhar will cost you approx. Rs 20 and is probably the easiest food to find. While filter kaapi is also available easily, try the Kumbakonam Degree Coffee (Rs 25) at Shri Krishna Sweets.

Hyderabad

Ande ka khagina, Hyderabad

With the number of varieties of biryani available, it’s easy to imagine Hyderabadis eating it three times a day. Closer inspection proves that there is much more to their breakfast menu. A popular favourite is Ande ka khagina – spicy, scrambled eggs eaten with hot parathas. Available at most of the roadside dhabas, a plate of this very filling breakfast costs Rs 50.

This list barely makes a dent in the list of things that are enjoyed for breakfast across the country. We’re sure there are plenty of hidden breakfast dishes that we haven’t yet heard of yet. Think you have a breakfast story to share and a breakfast spot to recommend in your city? Leave us a comment or tweet to us @burrp

About The Author

Shirin Mehrotra

Graphics designer turned writer. Writes about food, films and books. Aspiring fiction writer. Wannabe backpacker. Jalebi hogger. Old Monker. Hrishikesh da/Gulzar addict. Follow Shirin on twitter @foodchants

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