Healthy traditional breakfast recipes from across India.
Traditional India has a plethora of healthy and wholesome breakfast dishes that give a fillip to the day and yet are light on the stomach. The South, particularly, emphasizes rice-based dishes steamed, pan-fried or sautéed. Low on oil and high on nutrients, these breakfasts are worth trading your cereals and brown bread for.
Not all readers may have access to the traditional utensils required for steaming dishes. It is possible to improvise by placing a small inverted vessel or metal ring in a larger pot with lid, which contains just enough water for steaming. A shallow pan with holes like a sieve is placed on this. In this pan is placed a lightly greased plantain leaf (a soft damp cloth or greased plastic sheet can be alternately used), containing the food items that need steaming. These are lightly covered and the whole contraption is set on the stove with a large to medium flame, until steam begins to rush out indicating that the food inside is now cooked.
Khaman Dhokla (Gujarat)
Two cups chana dal, small piece ginger, 5-6 chillies, 2 tsp dahi, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp oil, ¼ tsp mustard seeds, ½ cup each of fresh grated coconut and coriander, salt to taste.
Soak chana dal for about 6-7 hours. Grind together with ginger, chillies and dahi. Leave overnight at room temperature. Next morning, add salt and turmeric powder to the mix and stir it well. Set in a shallow pan and steam for about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and cut into square pieces. Heat well the oil and add the mustard seeds until they pop. Pour over the dhokla, and garnish with the coconut and coriander.
Pohe (coarse beaten rice) 150 g.; one each of potato (medium size); onion (medium size); green chilli; garlic clove; ginger (small piece); one tbsp or less oil; 5-6 curry leaves; half tsp. each of mustard seeds, cumin seed; a light dash each of hing (asafoetida) and turmeric powder; ¼ – ½ cup each of fresh grated coconut and chopped coriander leaves; half-quarter slices of lime; salt to taste.
Wash and soak the pohe briefly to soften. Drain the excess water, and leave aside to dry for about 10 minutes. Heat the oil sufficiently so the mustard seeds pop, and quickly add the curry leaves, hing, turmeric powder and cumin seed; stir and immediately add the garlic, ginger and onion, stirring until the onion becomes soft. Add the potato pieces, stir and cover with a lid for about 5 minutes, until cooked. Add the softened pohe with salt to taste, and take off the fire. Mix well. Garnish with a layer of white grated coconut, topped with green coriander and the lime quarters.
Take 1 cup coarse and roasted rice flour (available in Kerala stores), salt to taste, ¼ cup water (use your judgment), ½ cup grated coconut.
Sprinkle the water on top of the flour, rubbing it into a breadcrumbs-like texture. If you form a ball with the flour, it must hold together for a little while before it collapses. On a banana leaf, sprinkle coconut and puttu mix, then repeat the coconut, until you have 3 alternate layers of coconut. Steam for about 10 minutes, until cooked. This is a variant in the absence of the puttu vessel, in which the puttu emerges in a cylindrical shape. The dish is usually accompanied with spicy black chana gravy. Other options include steamed Kerala bananas, mashed regular bananas, or even with ghee and jaggery or sugar.
Take 1 cup fine rice flour, 1 cup water, 1 tsp ghee, salt to taste; 2 cups grated coconut, ½ cup grated jaggery. Heat water until boiling, then lower the flame; add salt, ghee, rice flour and mix together in a fine paste. Remove from fire and make balls (10-12). Mix together the coconut and jaggery. Flatten the rice balls and fill in the coconut-jaggery mixture. Close into round shapes and steam until cooked.
Idli Sambhar (South India)
Idlis: One cup raw rice and one cup parboiled rice; ½ cup urad dal; ½ tsp methi seeds; salt to taste.
Wash and soak the rice and the dal with methi separately for 6 hours. Drain and grind the rice coarsely and the methi and dal finely. Mix together rice, dal, and salt and set aside whole night. Steam and serve with sambhar and/or chutney.
Sambhar: One cup tuvar dal; a big onion, finely sliced; 1 drumstick chopped to finger-length pieces; one cup chopped pieces of white pumpkin; 2-4 tsp sambhar powder (available in the stores); 1½ tbsp oil; a pinch of asafoetida; ½ tsp mustard seeds; 2 crushed red chillies; 7-8 curry leaves; salt to taste.
Boil the drumstick and white pumpkin pieces until cooked, and set aside. Cover tamarind with warm water and squeeze the pulp after 5 minutes. Wash and soak the dal in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes, then put it to boil in the same water, after adding turmeric and salt. When the dal turns soft, remove from the fire, mash into pulp. Heat one tbsp of oil and fry the onion to a pale golden color. Add to it the sambhar powder. Put in the dal, tamarind water and the cooked drumstick and pumpkin. Bring the mixture to boil, reduce heat and simmer on a low flame for 5 minutes. Remove from fire and set aside. Heat the remaining oil and add mustard seeds until they pop, asafoetida, curry leaves and two crushed red chillies, and pour into the sambhar.
Coriander chutney: Take two cups fresh grated coconut, one small piece ginger, one clove garlic, two green chillies, ¾ cup fresh coriander, two small pieces of soft tamarind, salt to taste. Add water to moisten and grind into a fine paste.
Mint chutney: Take two cups fresh mint leaves, half of a small onion, 2-3 green chillies, one clove garlic, two tsp fresh lime juice, salt to taste. Grind into a fine paste.
Garlic chutney: 2 cups grated coconut, 8 cloves garlic, 5 red chillies, one small ball of tamarind, salt to taste. Sprinkle water and grind into a paste.
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