What’s for breakfast?

The culture of breakfast around the world couldn’t be more different. While Americans love pancakes topped with crisp bacon, drizzled with maple syrup, a full English breakfast is anything but sweet.

Although Indian-style breakfast served in the West at restaurants has a brilliant variety, you’ll be hard pressed to find a sweet addition on the menu.

Breakfast boundaries are blurred when it comes to sweet and savoury dishes,  especially in Indian communities. Growing up in India at our home, sweet sheera sat happily alongside savoury poha at the start of the day and we scarfed both with delight.

My recent conversation with folks on social media stemmed from our love for aloo ki sabzi served with deep fried hot puris at breakfast and seeing how well received spicy scrambled eggs/ anda bhurji stuffed in buttered pau is.

For Indians toast and a cup of tea just doesn’t cut it. Too right it shouldn’t when there are a host of breakfast dishes to choose from. The most common question first thing in the morning will be “what will you have for naashta/ breakfast?”

I sometimes think the term ‘breakfast like a king’ was keeping in mind the Indian repertoire. The culinary pot is bubbling over with uttapams, anda bhurji (spiced scrambled eggs) and even Gujarati theplas. To steaming idli steeped in spicy sambar with coconut chutney at the local south Indian coffee houses or Bengali stuffed pithas, the list – albeit endless – is so very delicious.

By my standards, as a college-going teenager in India, I was always strapped for cash so this was a meal that more than fit my budget & worth every rupee. It was also the sort of food that you could eat all day. Most colleges also have their own canteens & ‘thelawalllas’ (street food vans in India) which serve some of these delights.

Restaurants are filled with diners vying for that quick bite, more so in the early mornings, when officegoers come in for their filter coffee fix and some masala dosa or medu vada. What enticed me about my first job in the city was the morning spent eating something at the street stalls before heading to work or, even better, ordering something at my desk during the day to keep me going.

In the UK, of course, cultural habits differ and there is a long way to go before you see people filling up their morning meal at restaurants or street stalls eating something spicy or savoury like idli sambar or even chivda with tea. There are small steps taken towards emulating eastern flavours and spices to perk up their weekend or evening meals.

From a cup of masala chai to a moreish masala omelette; it’s easily done and, might I add, very addictive. I’m always indulging on a relaxed weekend tucking into the likes of fried buttery Punjabi paratha at home. With every bite reminiscing about my food memories in India, perking up the start to my day with achar or yoghurt and most definitely a cup of cutting chai!

Maunika Gowardhan is a chef, food writer and blogger based in the UK. Visit her fabulous website at -

The image of ragi idlis is via here

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