Rice flakes is a traditional breakfast cereal consumed in almost every part of India. Earlier my grandmother used to make upma using freshly beaten rice flakes, but we, as children, liked to snack on aval (rice flakes) along with milk & sugar in the same way cornflakes, an American counterpart, is typically devoured. Rice flakes is generally used as the substitute for rice or other grains for making snacks, sweets, desserts, and many other dishes. However I prefer to make delicious red poha often for breakfast as it is a light but a hearty meal, and poha is a popular Maharashtrian dish prepared with plenty of onion (kande pohe), or with boiled potato (batata pohe), or garnished with grated coconut (dadpe pohe).
Pongal, a harvest festival, is celebrated here to thank the Sun God. Sun is regarded as the creator and sustainer of life on earth, and worshipping the Sun is an age-old practice still followed in India. We could find several hymns praising the Sun god in our scriptures and also several temples enshrining the Sun god (Surya) as the primary deity across India. Suryanaar temple is one of the Sun temples in south India (Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu) where wheat pongal is offered to the deity. So we can also prepare wheat pongal instead of rice pongal and offer to Sun God on this Pongal festival.
Horse gram crops are usually grown in drought-hit parts of India particularly in South India, and both the beans & hay are used as fodder mainly for horses. Since horse gram is considered a nutritional powerhouse, it is normally recommended for workmen or sportsmen who involve themselves in physically challenging activities, but for others it may be consumed in small quantity. So I used to make horse gram idli or dosa specially when my son actively participates in sports, and I also like to include horse gram into our diet during winter or monsoon as it is useful to keep our body warm in this season.
Hummus, an ancient Arabic appetizer, is now available in every supermarket as it took the western world by storm a few decades ago. Traditional hummus is nothing but the creamy blend of chickpeas & sesame seeds. Now there are different flavors of hummus available in the market to satisfy the ever growing demands of consumers across the world. Sabra is the most popular American brand for dips/ spreads namely Mediterranean hummus & Mexican guacamole. Wingreens is one of the few Indian brands selling hummus and they all boast to sell the “original” hummus. Unfortunately there is no Indian brand for hummus with Indian flavors, so I have tried spicy green hummus & red hummus that suit our palates.
A majority of my ancestors were farmers, my maternal grandfather became the last agriculturist of our family due to several reasons. They mostly grew rice & lentil crops in their farmland. There were large amounts of nutrient-rich broken rice and broken lentils kept inside kudhil (a gigantic earthenware used to store foodgrains) in my grandfather’s house. Since those small uneven particles of rice & lentil (kurunai) could not be sold in the market, they were used by our grandmother for making upma, payasam, kanji, kurunai dosai, etc.
It is a common tendency of people here that they pamper their guests whom they respect the most with sumptuous feasts to express their special affinity towards them. So the way food offered to guests is obviously regarded as a scale to measure their closeness. During my childhood days I often found people getting offended during family functions, particularly weddings, as they felt humiliated at the banquet hall (pandhi) which incidentally became the starting point (place) of most of the family feuds. Nowadays to avoid such unpleasant situations, people hire hosts/ hostesses who give an artificial smile at every guest, treat them all with due respect, and eventually ensure the equality.
Basil seeds (sabja seeds) are one of the most sought-after summer ingredients in Asia as these seeds are believed to lower the body heat according to traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda also. You may check out the other health benefits of these sensational basil seeds here.
Oil bath, almost a forgotten weekly routine followed by every South Indian family until 3 or 4 decades ago, offers pretty much the same benefits of Ayurvedic massage. Nowadays people prefer to visit Ayurvedic clinic for massaging therapy, and spend a few hours & a few bucks there, but they take oil bath at home only on the day of Deepavali festival every year as a religious ritual.
Anjarisi pongal, a rice dish made using 5 varieties of rice, is a traditional pongal served in sumptuous Chettinad wedding feasts. They usually prepare anjarisi pongal or anjarisi payasam using black kavuni arisi, varagu arisi (kodo millet), rava (sooji), javvarisi (sago) and raw rice. But I tried using indigenous rice varieties well known for their nutritive values especially for low-GI property like white kavuni arisi, varagu arisi, moongil arisi (bamboo rice), mappillai samba arisi (red rice), and kaikuthal arisi (hand-pounded rice) for making delicious and nutritious pongal.
As a child I used to shy away from talking about food fearing that I might be mistakenly stamped as a gourmand. Nowadays it is a common sight that teens are talking all about food with their peers with no inhibition, and there is also a welcome trend that kids happily wielding small ladles to cook up their favorite meals (thanks to the TV shows like Masterchef Juniors), and above all we could find gourmands proudly call themselves a foodie.
Pazhaya sadam (fermented rice) is a classic version of overnight oats popular in the west. It has been the staple food for working class here in India, but this humble meal is in vogue even among elites in the recent times. This is mainly because people prefer to take simple nourishing meal over a lavish meal followed by a number of pills of different shapes & colors.
I feel it is more beneficial to take cornmeal than cornflakes for breakfast, so I prefer to make gluten-free cornmeal puttu and protein-rich green gram sundal for breakfast. Puttu is usually prepared using rice flour, but you may refer the table below to find out how cornmeal serves good for making puttu.
Crispy Masala Dosa was the only Indian food appeared in the list of World’s Best 50 foods compiled based on the online poll conducted worldwide by CNN Travel in 2017. Dosa is a savory south Indian dish generally prepared for breakfast or dinner and it can be prepared thin paper-like crispy crepe or soft spongy pancake. Although there are numerous varieties of dosa prepared by south Indians, masala dosa is the most popular dosa wherein savory potato is stuffed inside the crispy dosa.
About 1000 years old south Indian delicacy, idli, is now gaining popularity all over the world as a healthy breakfast. Various studies conducted by renowned institutions around the globe state in unison that idli is one of the best breakfasts as naturally fermented rice & lentil batter is used in its preparation. Idli is a soft spongy steamed cake made using fermented rice & lentil batter prepared often in almost every South Indian’s household.
Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by worshiping Sun & earth to show our gratitude for the entire year’s harvests. On this day we all follow the traditional method of cooking rice in pot(s) decorated with ginger sprouts or turmeric sprouts rather than cooking in modern electric cooker or pressure cooker. It is considered auspicious to have boiled over while making pongal (meaning spilling over) which is otherwise impossible.
Idli with ketti chutney is a popular street food among bachelors who miss their home-cooked food for breakfast. Both my grandmothers prepared ketti chutney (meaning thick chutney) everyday, and they taste delicious when served particularly with spongy idli/ dosa. Nowadays we don’t prepare this chutney often, and we prefer to make a quick watery chutney that does not require any tempering.
Aloo paratha, an Indian bread stuffed with spicy potato, is a hearty meal that can be packed for children’s lunch box. We can serve hot aloo paratha for breakfast or dinner along with pungent garlic-tomato dip (instead of pickle) & refreshing onion raita.
Millet noodles is a delicious gluten-free meal that can be prepared in a jiffy using instant ragi noodles. Finger millets (ragi) can be included into the children, women and also old people’s diet as they are rich in calcium and iron. Iron is fully absorbed by our body only in the presence of Vitamin C. So it is a good practice to add the ingredients rich in Vitamin C like tomatoes, bell peppers (kudamilagai), lemon juice, etc. into a recipe using ragi millets. Here I have used tomatoes & bell peppers into my ragi idiyappam, and we can also add a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.
Ulundhu kali is a soft silky ebony sweetmeat specially prepared for girls & women as it helps to strengthen the uterus & hip bones. It is a traditional south Indian delicacy mainly served to young girls (during their cycles particularly in their first cycle) and also to pregnant women.
Eggplant (brinjal) gothsu is one of our favourite accompaniments for idli & dosa and I usually prepare this for breakfasts on Sundays. It is a very unique gothsu prepared by people living in Tirunelveli and is called as kathrikai kichadi.
Millet pongal is a healthy hearty dish that can be served for breakfast. Since millets have low GI, millet pongal is slowly digested & absorbed and hence the slower rise of blood sugar levels. Millet pongal may be simply served with spicy coconut chutney unlike pongal made of rice, so we can prepare this breakfast in a jiffy. Besides we can also serve this pongal with sambar, or vegetable gothsu.
Millet Kichadi is one of our favorites that I usually prepare for breakfast. I serve this nutritious kichadi particularly when my son preparing for his exams as it helps to keep him fresh & focused during his exam even though he had not slept well the previous night. Since all the ingredients in this kichadi are rich in micro-nutrients, it turns out to be a complete meal. Hence millet kichadi is the perfect breakfast for active children & busy professionals to keep them energetic all through the day.
Since drumstick leaves (moringa leaves) contain all the nutrients required for active mind & body, drumstick leaves idli or murungai keerai idli is a nutritious breakfast ideally served to energetic children, dynamic professionals and busy women to meet their dietary requirement. These keerai idli are also good for weight-watchers as they are so filling that we could very well reduce the intake of idli to a great extent than the plain idli. Besides it is as easy as making an ordinary idli, we can simply add a handful of fresh drumstick leaves into idli batter, pour into idli moulds and then steam them for few minutes.
Millet porridge is one of the best breakfasts that can be taken on a scorching sunny day during summer as it keeps us cool & energetic all through the day. It is so filling that we don’t require to take anything until lunch. You can check out the link here to know more about various millets, their health benefits and also millet recipes, I found this site on millets very informative. Millet porridge or koozh is usually prepared by cooking millets like varagu, saamai, kudhiraivaali or kambu, ground into a paste (whereas for millets like ragi or thinai the porridge may be prepared by mixing the millet flour with water and bring it to boil) and diluted by adding either milk or buttermilk.
Since rava upma is the easiest meal prepared with commonly available ingredients, it is being served often for breakfast or dinner in most of the south Indian families. Hence people especially children get bored of taking rava upma, but we can make this simple meal interesting, healthier & tastier just by adding a handful of fresh green peas. Rava upma with peas can be enjoyed the most when served warm in the evening particularly during monsoon.