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What is a Traditional Indian breakfast? Learn to cook these popular dishes in our cooking class.

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

I get a lot of questions about Indian food and culture in my Indian cooking class. One of the frequently asked question is "What do you eat for breakfast in India?" I love answering questions about my Culture and Food. So I wanted to write this blog about the Authentic Indian Breakfast items.

What is a Traditional Indian breakfast? Learn to cook these popular dishes in our cooking class.
Traditional Indian breakfast - Pongal, vadai and sambhar.

Southern Indian breakfast items

1. Dosa & Idli

Dosa is a crepe made from rice and lentil batter. Rice and lentil are soaked in water for 6 hours and then it's blended into a smooth batter and fermented over night at room temperature. Once the batter is fermented salt is added to the batter. Now the batter is ready to make crispy dosas. The same batter can be used to make idlis. Idli is made my pouring the fermented batter into greased idli plates. Idli plates resemble cup cake trays Dosa and idli are served with sambhar (lentil soup) and chutney. There are many varieties of chutney - coconut chutney, mint chutney, onion chutney, tomato chutney, mint chutney , cilantro chutney , peanut chutney etc.

2. Poori

Poori is a deep fried bread served with Urulai kizhangu masala ("Urulai kizhangu " means potato in Tamil language ) or vegetable korma (vegetable cooked in coconut curry). It's a very filling breakfast. When I have puri for breakfast , I usually eat lunch very late or skip lunch. Pori is made from wheat flour dough which is rolled out flat and deep fried in oil.

3. Pongal

Pongal is a rice and lentil dish served with sambhar(lentil and veggie soup), coconut chutney and vadai (savory lentil doughnut). The name "Pongal" also refers to the harvest festival celebrated in Southern India. On the day of the harvest festival we make two kinds of pongal. One is the sweet pongal made with palm sugar, rice, lentils, ghee , nuts and raisins. And the other is savory pongal. Generous amount of Ghee is added in both these types of Pongals to add richness and flavor. I am salivating just thinking about this dish!

4. Semiya and Rava uppma

Semiya uppma is a vermicelli based savory breakfast and Rava uppma is a cream of wheat based savory breakfast. It's usually served with coconut chutney and sambhar. Uppma is a very quick and easy breakfast dish. Mom's make Uppma on days when they are running short on time or ideas:))

5. Idiyaapam

Idiyaapam is a steamed rice noodle served with vegetable korma (savory version). We also serve Idiyaapam with sweetened coconut milk with a hint of cardamom(sweet version). It's a very light breakfast and easy to digest. Idiyaapam is made with rice flour dough. The soft dough is filled in to the idiyaapam maker. It is a cylindrical device which is very similar to a pasta maker. We add the rice flour dough into the cylinder and squeeze out the idiyaapam on a thin cotton cloth which is placed in a steamer. The idiyaapam looks like angel hair pasta formed into a bird's nest shape. I know it sounds very different from the dishes you find in the Indian restaurants in America , but if you get a chance you should try it once. I personally love both the sweet and the savory version.

6. Aapam

Aapam is a spongy thick crepe made with rice batter. It's usually served with veggie korma or chicken korma or sweetened coconut milk. There is a special kind of wok used to make Aapam called "Aappa Kadai". We pour the Aappam batter in the hot wok, hold the handles of the wok and swirl it around gently. The batter flows through the sides of the wok and settles down in the bottom. Thus we get the aappam in the shape of the wok. Aappam will will be crispy around the edges and soft and spongy in the middle.

Northern Indian breakfast items

What is a Traditional Indian breakfast? Learn to cook these popular dishes in our cooking class.

1. Roti

Roti is a flat wheat bread made with whole wheat flour, salt and water. It's usually served with veggie curry or lentil curry. The wheat flour is mixed with salt and water and made into a soft dough. The dough is kept in a closed container for 30 minutes. There is no yeast added to this bread so the dough will not rise. After 30 minutes the dough is made into small balls the size of golf balls and rolled out into thin circular sheets. The rotis are cooked on the stove top in a skillet. Cast iron skillets make the perfect rotis. The roti is cooked on both sides until small brown spots appear and then they are placed on direct flame as shown in the picture above. Once placed on the fame it puffs up like a balloon. It is a very cool sight to watch. Every time I make roti in my cooking class my clients get super excited when the see the roti puffing up. Warm and soft rotis served with chicken curry is one my favorite meals.

2. Paratha

Paratha is whole wheat layered flat bread. It's served with veggie curry , lentil curry or yogurt sauce. The paratha has the same ingredients as roti with a slight difference in the process of making the bread. Once the wheat dough is made into small balls it's rolled out flat into a small circle. Oil is applied on the rolled out dough and is folded into a triangle. The triangular dough is rolled out into a thin sheet and cooked on the skillet. Paratha is not cooked on direct flame like roti. Paratha can also be stuffed with mashed potato and rolled out flat to make aloo paratha ("Aloo " means potato in Hindi) There are many varieties of stuffed parathas like Gobi paratha ("Gobi " means cauliflower) , Paneer paratha ("Paneer" means cheese) Methi paratha ("Methi" means fenugreek leaves).

3. Poha

Poha is flattened rice flavored with spices. This is a simple breakfast and one of the few rice based breakfast dishes served in Northern India. Poha is made by boiling rice and then pressing it flat and drying. Since the rice is already boiled and cooked the Poha does not need to be cooked for long. It is just seasoned with mustard seeds, curry leaves and turmeric powder. Lemon juice is added at the end to give a light sourness to the dish. You will not find it in the Indian restaurant. It's one of those recipes which are popular yet made only in homes rather than restaurants.

4. Poori

Poori is a common breakfast item in both North and South Indian cuisine. As I mentioned in the Southern Indian breakfast items Pori is served with Aloo ki Sabji ("Aloo " means potato in Hindi) Poori can also served with Kesari

(Indian sweet made with cream of wheat) The deep fried soft bread with the buttery sweet kesari will taste divine.

Learn to cook authentic Indian dishes at Santhoshi's Kitchen. We offer cooking classes in our spacious studio located near Charlotte, NC. I promise that I will help you create the yummy Indian curry sauce / fluffy basmati rice/ soft Indian bread (Roti) you had at your local Indian restaurant. Signup for our cooking class and cook Indian food with confident. You can also purchase our Gift certificate for you friend or family member who loves Indian food! Hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Please share your questions and comments about Indian food and culture in the comment section. I would be happy to answer them for you.


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