Saturday, May 15, 2010

Indian spicy breakfast !!

The complimentary breakfast buffet that came with the hotel room we
recently stayed in turned our thoughts to the wonderful dishes
traditionally eaten in the morning. They are fast fading from memory
but the buffet can't be blamed. The buffet tries to provide guests
with choice – throwing in poori-bhaji; idli-vada-sambar and stuffed
paratha and dahi. At times, eggs to order are forced to compete with
uttapam. But the desi nashta or traditional breakfast declined when
the foods of the colonials – buttered toast with jam and masala
omelettes – became popular. Vegetarians resisted the cereal (read
cornflakes) but not for long. As children in Uttarakhand, half a
century ago, we often feasted on dahi-jalebi. That was in Bhowali. In
Almora or Nainital, milk was substituted for curds.

The home cooked
stuff ranged from cheela (lentil pancakes) to daliya (porridge) both
sweet and salted. The staple was phulka subzee. Travel opened our eyes
to regional specialties. In Lucknow it was nahari-kulcha and in
Hyderabad, tradition prescribed khichadi-keema.

In the literal heart
of India, in the Malwa-Maharashtra belt, poha or pounded rice flakes
reigned supreme. Sabudana vada and khichadi provided variety. Shops in
small towns in the Hindi heartland did brisk business in
khasta-kachori. In the countryside, it was the no frills but filling
and nourishing sattu (parched gram or barley) flavoured with salt and
green chillies. The sattu would be mixed with water to make it easier
to eat. In Bengal and Orissa, pantha bhat (left over fermented rice)
was a light morning meal. Down South, dosa – plain, not masala – or
upama would partner with filter coffee. One could go on salivating in
this vein but some of my best memories are of an exceptional
bedavin-puri breakfast at a small eatery in Modinagar next to the
police station. It cost Rs 25 and gave us three puffed bedavin, deep
fried in pure ghee but brought to us bone dry without a trace of
artery clogging fat. This was accompanied by two small portions of alu
(potatoes sans onion and garlic in thick gravy) and sitaphal ki sabzi
(sweet and sour tangy green, not yellow dry pumpkin) along with bitter
and pungent methi chutney. It was a beautifully balanced meal because
it included all six basic tastes. Other satisfying desi breakfasts
include the bedavi from Chachi in Varanasi just a stone's throw from
the gates of BHU. Similarly, Chiman Lal in Agra has an enviable
reputation based on extra crisp bread fashioned by rolling two discs
of puri together before they are fried. Old-timers in Lucknow vouch
for the Kabarwale ki puri, fried in oil, not ghee. They beat the
buffet by an easy margin. Article from TOI


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