17 Indian Breakfast Ideas

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India, to the west, is the definition of “exotic.”  When we hear about Indian food, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the spicy, hot curry, and similar dishes, but what about their breakfast foods?

Believe it or not, India is a very diverse place.  Its cuisine, including breakfast, depends on the region, with some places having lighter and less filling breakfasts than others.

Here is a list of seventeen delicious Indian breakfast foods, and the recipes to make them.  Don’t forget to set up some time for preparation and take the time to enjoy tasting them.


17 Indian Breakfast Ideas

1. Idli

Idli comes from the Karnataka region in south India.  It’s a kind of small cake made from rice and fermented black lentils.  Idlis are at their best when eaten with other foods, like curry or chutney.

There are many varieties of idli, including brown rice, oats, semolina, and more.  They are vegan-friendly, gluten-free, and a healthy choice for breakfast food.


2. Thepla

A kind of flatbread, thepla is a bit like a pancake or tortilla.  It’s made from whole wheat, chickpea flour, and chopped fenugreek leaves, and brushed with oil to give it a spotted appearance.

Thepla is served hot with many different foods.  These include yogurt, raita, pickled foods, potato curry, chutney, and a lot of other dishes or spreads.


3. Vada

Vada is another south Indian breakfast food that looks like a donut.  It’s made from different foods, depending on the recipe, with potatoes and black lentils as two of the most common ingredients.

Vada is best served hot, with dips like sambar or chutney.  They’re easy to eat, especially on the go, and they have less sugar than donuts.  That’s a huge plus in my book!


4. Flattened Rice

Also known as poha, this dish is rice that has been parboiled and flattened.  It can be sweetened and eaten with water or milk, like cereal.  And that’s just one way it’s eaten.

Flattened rice is also cooked with other foods into meals.  Breakfast meals with flattened rice tend to have a lot of fruit and nuts in them.


5. Pongal

Pongal is not only the name of a festival that takes place in January, it’s also the name of a dish that’s traditionally served during the festival.  Fresh rice is boiled in milk along with sugar for a great treat.

Pongal comes in several varieties.  Ven Pongal is made with clarified butter, chakarai Pongal uses mung beans, and cashews and is much sweeter.  Melagu Pongal is the spicy version, and so on.


6. Khaman Dhokla

If you want a breakfast food that’s a bit more cake-like, dhokla is a steamed dish made from rice flour, black bean flour, or chickpea flour.

Khaman dhokla is a variety that is made from chickpea gram flour.  It should be said that there’s a running debate over whether it actually is dhokla or is its own thing.  Dhokla or not, khaman is a delicious addition to your breakfast table.


7. Idiyappam

Idiyappam is a rice flour noodle that is shaped into small balls about the size of a fist.  As a breakfast food, it’s often served with stews, curries, or a dish called kurma.

It takes just over a half-hour to make idiyappam from scratch to plate with a pressure cooker.  Since rice fits most diet restrictions, it’s a good healthy choice.


8. Aloo Poori

Aloo is a kind of potato curry while Poori, also spelled puuri, is a kind of fried bread.  The two dishes are served together for an awesome combination.

Aloo poori is a north Indian delicacy that takes around an hour to make.  It’s a light meal and one that can be eaten at any time of the day.


9. Khandvi

This dish is similar to pasta but made from yogurt, buttermilk, and chickpea flour rather than wheat.  Khandvi is also used as a brunch or lunch food.

Khandvi is rolled up into small tubes after it’s cooked and then served with mustard seeds, sesame seeds, coconut flakes, and coriander.  Chutney can also be added if you prefer.


10. Bisi Bele Bath

A spicy breakfast food?  Well, why not?  Bisi bele bath is a spicy lentil and rice dish from southwest India, that uses curry leaves and nutmeg to get that flavorful kick.

One thing to note, it’s easiest to make Bisi bele bath with a pressure cooker.  You don’t need to have one to make this dish, but it cuts down on the cooking time.


11. Upma

Cereal, in one form or another, is a cosmopolitan breakfast food found worldwide.  India is no exception to that rule.  Upma is a dish of semolina or coarse flour cooked as a thick, hearty porridge.

Like most cereals, upma tastes better with other flavors.  Try adding some vegetables or nuts, or even other grains like oatmeal.  And of course, there’s sugar if you want the upma to be sweet.


12. Ghugni

Ghugni is a popular food in east India, particularly as a breakfast or snack food.  It’s a curry that is made by mixing boiled peas with spices, onions, and other vegetables.

While the recipe for ghugni can be prepared in under an hour, the peas need to be soaked for hours before they’re ready to use.  Soaking them overnight is the best option.


13. Puttu

Another rice dish, puttu is a cylinder-shaped food created from rice flour.  The flour is mixed with a layer of coconut shavings and a filling of some kind all rolled up into a tube.

The rice and coconut are traditionally cooked by steam, which has the advantage of not having to worry about overcooking or burning the puttu.  It also means the puttu won’t take long to cook, and it will be ready in under a half-hour.


14. Pav Bhaji

Pav bhaji is technically a two-part meal.  The vegetable curry, bhaji, is paired with a bread called pav.  There are many variations on the dish, including cheese and mushroom bhajis.

Bread and curry are practically inseparable, in no small part because you can not only dip the bread in the curry, but the bread also helps with foods that are too spicy.


15. Paratha

A flatbread, paratha comes from the Punjab region in northern India.  It’s an unleavened whole wheat dough that’s first baked, then fried in ghee.  It can be made vegan with some substitutes.

Paratha has two main types, plain and stuffed.  When it comes to stuffing, potatoes are the most common for a variation called Aloo Paratha.  Other vegetables like lentils and greens are also fairly common.


16. Besan Cheela

Are you in the mood for pancakes?  Besan cheela is a savory pancake made from a chickpea flour called gram and vegetables like onions, and tomatoes.

Besan cheela is flavored with coriander, chili powder, and turmeric.  This gives it a spicy taste that’s unlike most other pancakes.  It’s also high protein and low-calorie.


17. Bhature

And finally, bhature is a type of bread that’s similar to a roll.  It’s crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.  You’ll mainly see bhature in combination with chole masala, a kind of dish based around chickpeas.

Bhature takes about an hour to make from scratch, and it’s fried rather than baked.  Bhature is served hot and fluffy, just the way I like it.


Wrap Up

India is as famous for its cuisine as its cultural traditions, yet the food they eat is very different from what is eaten in the west.  It’s sure to shake up your breakfast table.

This list is only a small section of the diversity of Indian food.  There are many more dishes and recipes that can be found online for a healthy breakfast.

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