Health experts are always telling us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but the range of breakfast foods on the market that can turn your ‘breakfast of champions’ into a nutritional black hole presents something of a culinary minefield.
The cereals that cram the shelves in the breakfast aisle are doused in sugar, offering a spike in energy as your blood sugar levels shoot up, only to bring you crashing back down to earth and reaching for a Kit Kat mid-morning. The white bread and sugary jams that so many young people look forward to first thing can be laden in sugar and fat, piling on calories with no real nutritional value. And for those that successfully avoid sugar, preferring to opt for the savoury choice, are usually faced with fried foods thick with grease and oil – ideal for an occasional hangover, perhaps, but certainly not something to indulge in every day.
In comparison, the breakfast foods preferred in Indian cuisine can actually make an excellent substitute to these unhealthy western choices. Here are some simple swaps that will allow you to satisfy your Indian food cravings whilst starting your day with a healthier breakfast option…
Instead of pancakes: uttapam
This Indian pancake is particularly popular in the Southern Indian states. It is a thick, hearty pancake made out of rice and urad dal. Unlike western pancake breakfasts, where we might drizzle them with honey, maple syrup or sugar, uttapam is a savoury dish and ingredients like tomatoes, onions and chillies are usually cooked into the batter. However, those of us with a sweet tooth might prefer a little jaggery and coconut instead.
Instead of toast and spread: dosa and chutneys
Sometimes a morning meal just isn’t complete without carbs for energy. Dosas differ from uttapam as they are thin, almost like a crepe. They are made from a fermented rice and dal batter, which means they are also an excellent source of protein, too – just the combination to keep hunger locked up ‘til lunch. Dosas can be stuffed with vegetables like potato or eaten plain with a selection of chutneys. Try spicy mango if you like a little sweetness, or mint and coriander if you want a savoury breakfast.
Instead of cereal: Indian muesli
Indian muesli is not really a traditional dish but is something you can put together yourself using Indian ingredients. Curds or yoghurt play an important role in Indian cuisine; try mixing a few spoonfuls with a handful of dried fruit and nuts – the mighty Mughals spiced up their dishes with this sort of garnish. Add a few spoonfuls of pori or Indian puffed rice and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Instead of fried eggs and bread: masala omelette and pani puri
Instead of greasy fried bread and oily fried eggs, why not pick a masala omelette, flavoured with all the delicious spices of India? Crunchy pani puri on the side adds texture and a little bulk to your meal.
Of course, breakfast is just one meal of the day – you still have lunch and dinner to fill with Indian treats, too. But why not let one of London’s beat Indian fine dining restaurants do the hard work for you instead? Book a table today.