Indian Food Options: What to Have for Breakfast & Lunch?
In South India breakfast foods also appear at other times during the day as snack foods. Everywhere in the south you will come across idlis (spongy, round, fermented rice cakes), which are accompanied by chutney (chatni, often coconut) or sambar and frequently both. Usually, idlis are served in portions of two to three at a time. Also popular, and often eaten with idlis, are vadai, which are deep-fried dhal and vegetable cakes (sometimes called ulundu vadai in South India). These come with a sambar and chutney.
Less common is uppuma, which is a savoury dish made from semolina, pounded rice, vegetables and spices. Puttu is a sweet breakfast dish made of pounded rice and coconut. Equally popular throughout southern India, eaten as snacks or breakfast, are the wafer-like pancakes called dosa. Dosas come in a number of different forms: masala dosa (a lentil-flour pancake stuffed with a potato masala); uttapam (a thicker dosa topped with chopped spiced vegetables); and paper, or semolina, dosa (lacy, thinner than other dosa and with no filling). Dosas usually come with coconut chutney and a sambar, and are generally about the size of a plate, but sometimes they are larger. Think of them as southern India's answer to pizza ! Udipi in Karnataka is considered the home of the masala dosa.
In Kerala especially you will come across appams, which are pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut. The final product is crispy at the outsides and rather like a pikelet in the middle. Appams are often accompanied by a hard-boiled egg in a curry sauce and this is a snack you'll find in chai shops everywhere. Idiyappams come in vermicelli strands which are often served with milk and sugar as a dessert. Other snacks that you'll find in chai shops everywhere are samosas (triangular pastries stuffed with curried vegetables), namkin (spiced nibbles), bhaji (bite-sized pieces of vegetable dipped in chickpea flour), bonda (spiced potato or vegetable balls dipped in batter and deep fried), pakora (deep-fried vegetable cakes), sundal (spiced whole chickpeas), purr (deep-fried rounds of bread usually served with spiced potatoes) and paratha (flaky, pan-fried bread usually served with spiced vegetables including onion).
Although South Indians are predominantly vegetarian due to the expense of meat, meat dishes are widely available, eaten mainly by the Muslim and Christian locals. Goat (known as 'mutton' since the days of the Raj even though it isn't sheep), lamb and chicken are the mainstays (religious rules forbid Hindus from eating cattle and Muslims from eating pigs). You'll find biryanis (rice-based dishes made with meat, dried fruits, nuts and with added spices), kebabs, chicken tikka (succulent pieces of marinated chicken on a skewer) and the ubiquitous tandoori chicken (marinated with a blend of spices called tandoori masala and cooked in a special clay tandoor oven).
In Mumbai, you can sample the Parsi's signature dish, dhansak (a one-pot wonder consisting of meat and vegetables in a spicy puree of several dhals). Goa, with its Portuguese and Christian influences, is famous for the eye-watering vindaloo, a pork curry made in a marinade of vinegar and garlic. Be warned it is hot. And remember there is a difference between Indian hot and Australian hot! Other pork specialities include chourisso (Goan sausage) and a pig's liver dish known as sorpotel. Xacuti, a spicy chicken or meat dish, is another Goan speciality. Chicken sukka is made with grated coconut and coconut milk. You will never run out of intersting foods to try in India. It's imaginative, affordable and very, very tasty.