Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mastering Indian breakfast

There are 2 dimensions to mastering Indian breakfasts: the taste and the cooking.

On the taste criteria let's just say that spice in the morning does take a lot to get used to. Chillies for breakfast were never in my menu in pre-A. times. Therefore, when we first moved in together we were still sticking to cereal, banana bread and the like. Soon came A.'s craving for something more Indian, and I learned to cook upma. It's easy, A. liked it and I would usually not eat it. Well, after a while upma became more interesting to me and I started having some when I cooked it. When in India the less spicy choice were idlis, but idlis embody the epitome of "empty calories" for me: tasteless carbohydrates. Not that I don't eat them, it all depends on the sambar/chutneys accompanying them but if there is an alternative...


But then a major breakthrough came when I discovered dosas. I love the crispy texture! So different from
idlis yet from the same batter...

Dosa with sambar and chutneys.

Unfortunately when I tried making dosas they always got stuck to the pan. I tried different recipes, different doughs, but all ended in the same way. So I gave up (temporarily) and went back to upma and rices, besides bread and cereals. I even got to saying that my objective in mastering Indian cooking was to be able to make paper dosas.

Only this past year did I give parathas a go. I really like them, I like the idea of whole wheat flour, but I could not figure out how to get the potato mix into the dough. During my last trip to India I saw a friend rolling them out and then once I got back I googled a recipe: instant success! And easy too! (Especially if you have a nice countertop to roll them on... which I did not have until last semester.)

Then, finally, last week I decided to go back to dosas... A. misses them dearly and it is nowhere to be found in Oslo. One more try, low expectations, A. decided to help oiling the pan, and ta-da! It worked!!! A. guarantees it is his oiling technique but my guess is the new non-stick pan I used (the previous one had some scratches). Not too bad at all! Just like pancakes, with a little extra work in spreading the dough. And the masala was good too! A. ate a package of ready-made dosa mix almost by himself!

It is hard to find time to cook in the morning, so we usually stick to these innovations on the weekends. It is also just as much work to cook them for 1 or for 5 people, so I never cook them for myself alone. But now that we are living apart, sometimes I want A.'s visit to come quicker, just to justify some Indian breakfast cooking!


  1. You're right it's all delicious but very time consuming while cooking. For us it can only be some weekend kitchen adventure, for the rest of the week we stick to... musli or cornflakes :)

  2. I am going to have to side with A. on his oiling technique. Even the best non-stick pans are not truly non-stick. A thin layer of oil goes a long way in making sure that it is :) I know because I came to the same conclusion after battling it out with disastrous results earlier.

    As for me, I usually eat omelet with toast in the morning. Only occasionally when the craving hits do I go down the adventure route of preparing full-blown Indian dishes like you did. You can take an Indian out of India but you can't take India out of him :) Does that apply to Brazilians too? Are there breakfast items specific to Brazil that you crave for?

  3. Querida Simone,
    Penso o mesmo de vc em relaçao a Idlis, mas nao gosto nem de sambar :P Ele sim, gosta de todas as variaçoes citadas! Amo dosa ao ponto de preferir a panqueca já!Porque é mais crocante, principalmente...
    As mulheres da família dele me ensinaram muitas receitas, incluindo algumas do sul, como a dosa e o que observei é que usava mais óleo mesmo para fazer na frigideira caseira... Também aprendi a fazer Aloo Parantha(e outras da família) e Chapati. Estas duas sao típicas no norte e indispensáveis para ele, mas confesso que a arte de Chapati me parece mais complicada e depende muito da prática!
    Concordo que demanda tempo e por isso variamos com café da manha brasileiro, daqui.
    A gente tem que trocar umas receitas e dicas! :D
    Abraço forte

  4. Dosa are so hard to really master, I still don't get the paper thin crisp thing, mine are fluffier :)
    I found out that a non-stick pan coupled with greasing it with a very thin even layer of oil works the best, a neighbour once told me the best way to ensure you oil the pan properly is to cut an onion in half stick a fork in the round part, dip the flat part in oil and then rub evenly on the pan...and yes it works :)

  5. Hi EM,
    Yup, cereal is usually our breakfast too.

    Hi Dsylexic and Cyn,
    Ok, I'll give A. some credit for the oiling. It is actually very similar to the onion technique Cyn described, but we used the end of a cucumber instead.
    Here in Europe I am trying more Indian breakfasts since we do not have "the" place for Indian food we had back in Raleigh. A. misses it dearly. :P
    And Brazilian breakfast is very European: bread, cheese, jam, cereal, so I can say I get that every day ;)

    Oi Lilian,
    Sim, vamos trocar receitas! Mas te escrevo mais por email.

  6. i love Indian Food. looks yum and mouth watering.

  7. Samba met stop i am a lover of did you fall in love with sambaar?