Have you noticed that I haven’t written about Indian food yet? I’ve been going through my pictures, and to be honest, I’m not so fond of the food ones. At the same time, there’s no way that I CANNOT write about Indian food. I’ll try my best.
As usual, it’s always good to start with breakfast.
When I ordered this dish at Saravana Bhavan, a small South Indian restaurant in the Karol Bargh section of Delhi, I didn’t realize that I’d be getting a small feast. All I knew was that I didn’t recognize anything in the description of the dish. Sounds like a perfect meal to me!
A tiffin is a small meal, kinda like an afternoon tea set-up. Although it resembles thali to me. Either way, this is not a little bit of food even early in the morning, but I was the only tourist in the place and the only woman so I figured that I was just going to eat whatever I wanted.
It took me a while, but I have now figured out exactly what I ate. I’ll describe all the dishes starting with the big light brown thing on the bottom and going counterclockwise from there.
The very large, light brown, and almost opaque crispy item is a dosa made of rice batter and lentils. In South India, you can find it at breakfast or also as street food. It often comes stuffed with good things like vegetables, savory sauces like sambar (more on that below) and of course the ever-present chutney.
Moving on to vada, which looks like a donut, doesn’t it? Definitely not a donut. Often eaten as a street snack or with breakfast, this is a savory pastry made from dal, lentil and/or chickpea-like flour and deep-fried. Yay for deep frying! It’s usually eaten with a filled dosa, idly (see below) or some pongal (see below).
The white disc next to the vada is idly (or idli), a steamed white cake made out of different kinds of dark lentils. It’s usually served with sauces and chutneys. I forget how I actually ate mine, but I definitely ate it. In South India it’s mostly eaten for breakfast, but this side dish is enjoyed across all of India.
Idly via India Net Zone (there’s some vada there, too)
Continuing to proceed counterclockwise, there was a small bowl of upma made of semolina flour, mustard seed, oil, vegetables, and cumin (there’s always cumin somewhere),
Here’s another look at what upma looks like.
via Sailu’s Kitchen
Next to the upma is pongal. Pongal is particular to the Tamil Nadu region in the south, and it’s rice dish that has both sweet and spicy variations. If I remember correctly, mine was the spicy kind. Actually I don’t think I had anything sweet for breakfast except the masala chai (There will be a post about tea!). Pongal is actually eaten during the Pongal Festival in Tamil Nadu in the southern part of the country.
Homemade pongal via Yasmeen Health Nut
That orangey dish right next to the pongal? I’m just not sure what it is. Anyone out there know?
Right next to the bright orangey stuff is sambar. It’s a very spicy brothy stew made of pigeon peas base and spicy sambar powder (too many spices to list. Trust me.) I got used to lots of spice in the mornings.
The two small bowls in the middle were chutneys that I am not remembering so well. Sorry! That said they were unlike any other Indian chutneys I’d had before.
I also couldn’t forget my masala chai. I miss this now. Spicy tea with milk. Yummm…
I’m disappointed that this time around that I didn’t make it to the southern part of India, but I feel like this “breakfast” of mine was a great introduction to the region’s food. Plus, it got me used to spicy breakfasts!
What kind of flavors do you like for your morning meal? Sweet, savory or spicy?
15.A/17 W.E.A, Saraswati Marg
Karol Bargh, New Delhi-11oo5