What do Indians have for breakfast?
Very interesting observation here. Geographical barriers (eating practices are different between people who live to the north and the South of the Vindhya ranges of the hills and this is a point to reckon with), cultural differences and others prevail in how people from different regions and states in India cook. The differences have to do with the staples (wheat in the North/North West/West), and rice (South, East, North East); cooking media (Coconut and nut oils in the South through mustard in the North); all of these in turn influence the type of food consumed throughout India. If you overlook these differences, you will fall into the trap of the restauranteurs and chefs who pretend they provide you with an “Indian” meal but that is as fake as it gets.
You started with breakfast meal. People across the length and breadth of the country have different preferences. In most places, you’d find an Indian feasting on toast and tea for breakfast with fruits and porridges. These things vary with seasons as well. In the winter season (now, for instance), it is not unusual in some parts of Eastern India for people to feast for breakfast on a steaming bowl of rice porridge laced with lentil dal and clarified butter (“ghee”) on a cold morning. Sap from the date palm that people source only during this time of the year is another favourite breakfast food. The breakfast items in the Northeast and Eastern part of the country is different from the North/Northwest and South. In the Southern states of India, for example, a steaming plate of idli (loosely steamed rice and pulse cakes) rolled on cracked and fried dals with chutneys are delicacies to die for. Even the toast in many Indian households for breakfast is made differently: these are called “tawa toast” or where the bread is crisply toasted on a pan rather than over a toaster or in an oven. The taste is divine, try it sometimes, :-)! The Indian’s tea and coffee is a different business altogether. The tea is 80% steamed milk and 20% tea leaves boiled in the milk. Indian coffee is distinctive, usually mixed with chicory (powdered coconut shell) with Arabica beans.
Lunch of course is a different ball game altogether. More on this later.