• A tangy dal pakwaan with green yoghurt chutney makes an excellent breakfast in India. (Andrew Dorn)Source: Andrew Dorn
The question is – will you try your hand at cooking them, head out to find them, or put them on your culinary bucket list for when you visit India?
Caterina Hrysomallis

18 Oct 2021 - 3:01 PM  UPDATED 18 Oct 2021 - 11:24 AM

--- Discover the comforts of Indian home cooking with Adam D'Sylva, Helly Raichura and Sandeep Pandit on India Unplated, Thursdays 8.00pm on SBS Food and streaming on SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, articles and more. ---


The thing about Indian breakfast dishes is that most can also be eaten for lunch or dinner.

That's according to Vineet Rawat, who owns and runs Melbourne restaurant Roti Boti with his family.

Rawat says there are "thousands" of breakfast dishes across India's 28 states, with countless variations.

Here are seven of them.

Indian omelette

"If you really want to test if someone is a great Indian cook, get them to make an Indian omelette," says Rawat.

"If someone can master an Indian omelette, they can master anything in Indian cuisine." 

What distinguishes a good Indian omelette from a great one? The balance of flavours; cumin, chilli, tomatoes and turmeric to name a few. There are plenty of ways to make and put spins on the staple, but check out Anjum Anand's masala omelette recipe for a tried-and-tested option.


"You can't go past parathas; from the north to the south of India," says Rawat.

"There's a whole street in Delhi dedicated to parathas, with more than 40 stalls selling them."

That goes to show how many versions of the crowd-favourite, stuffed bread snack there is.

There are parathas served with okra, chilli, radish, cauliflower, cheese and banana, and more.

Topped with your choice of chutney (or chutneys), they're a substantial option with which to start the day. 

Laccha paratha with carrot raita

Laccha paratha are flatbreads from northern India, made with wheat flour and ghee and they go with a whole array of Indian dishes.


Helly Raichura, chef-owner of Enter Via Laundry; an Indian dining experience she runs from her home, says, "I love how Kerala and the south of India has such a variety of fermented breads.

"There is dosa. There is idli. There is appam."

These are breakfast dishes and breads you can soak your curries in.


Serve these with your favourite curries or even a drizzle of condensed milk.

Raichura co-hosts SBS series India Unplated with Adam D'Sylva and Sandeep Pandit. Pandit makes Kerala-style appams on the show; fermented dosa rice and coconut pancakes that are vegan and gluten free.

Pandit first soaks the rice for about five hours, grinds it to a smooth paste and leaves it to ferment overnight. Then, he pours the appam batter into an appam wok to achieve a distinctively round shape. He cooks the appam so the middle is soft and the edges are brown. They can be eaten in a variety of ways: simply with an egg cooked on top or with a stew such as vegetable ishtu.

Dal pakwan

Pandit also makes a "cheat's version" of dal pakwan on India Unplated, a dish popular in the state of Gujarat. "It's a wonderful breakfast dish in the Sindhi community," says Pandit. 

"What it essentially is, is a flatbread dish, which is eaten with dal."

Pandit combines ready-made tomato and cumin dal with ghee, onion, coriander and lemon. He serves the dal with flour and semolina flatbread, and a green yoghurt chutney.

"This dish is like a kaleidoscope in your mouth."

"This dish is like a kaleidoscope in your mouth. But instead of the colours, you get all the different tastes. You get the crunchiness from the onions, a bit of freshness from the coriander. Crispy, spicy, yummy."

Dal pakwan with green yoghurt chutney

A popular Sindhi breakfast, dal pakwan is a creamy dal served with fried flatbreads. Here with top is with a cool yoghurt-chutney sauce.

Dosas filled with spiced potato 

Soloman Thapa, head chef at Roti Boti, says, "Dosas are a great breakfast food because they are full of carbohydrates; they will keep you going if you have work all day."

Flat, thin, crisp, often giant pancakes, dosas are made with fermented rice and lentils. You can enjoy them plain, or with a filling. 

Dosas come in countless shapes and forms around India, depending on where you are in the country.

For a taste of southern India, try a dosa filled with spiced potatoes; livened with mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, coriander, lime and chilli. 


Another one of Thapa's breakfast favourites is nutritious upma, common in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Odisha. "Made with cream of wheat, it's like a fluffy pudding," he says. Or, like a thick porridge.  

There are savoury versions of upma, packed with vegetables, spices, lentils and nuts. Upma can also be served sweet, with grated coconut on top. "It's rich with fibre, vitamins and is low in cholesterol," says Thapa.

Cracked wheat porridge (fada upma)

Here's a wholesome breakfast packed with vegetables and a hint of spice.


Sweet Indian breakfasts are certainly not as common as savoury, but jalebi remains a popular breakfast dish in the north of India. Also doubling up as a dessert, jalebi are iconic spiral shaped fried fritters, made from a batter of chickpea flour, saffron flour and yoghurt.


The batter is fermented for about 24 hours, then deep fried until crispy and dipped in sugar syrup – otherwise a rosewater or orange blossom syrup if taken to the next level.

Jalebi are sometimes topped with chopped nuts, and are usually enjoyed alongside a bowl of warm milk. Dip the jalebi into the milk and dig in.

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