Eat breakfast like a Mumbaikar

Eat breakfast like a Mumbaikar

Five morning meals with a Mumbai flavor: And where to try them

I like Mumbai in the morning. Not because it is the quietest place on earth and definitely not because I am a morning person. But because 8:30 a.m. has just enough buzz, offering an essence of the city without the overwhelming chaos.

It is also a great time to eat in the city.

Apart from the food being fresher, Mumbai's local breakfast options are an assortment of cultures, inherited from a long and luscious culinary melting pot.

Many local dishes are modern adaptations derived from the Kolis, a fishing community said to be the original inhabitants of Mumbai.

Others are borrowed from our friendly neighbors, like the Gujarati and Udipi foods that are extremely popular amongst Mumbaikars from all backgrounds.

And then there is the plated relic of Mumbai’s Parsi-Irani culinary heritage.

Here are five highly recommended Mumbai breakfasts:

1. Misal

misalAn onion-topped typical Maharashtrian breakfast. Talk about morning breath.Misal is an extreme dish, both in flavor and texture.

It’s intense tangy taste comes from a spicy curry that is mixed with sprouted and whole lentils and pulses, garnished with a combination of crispy dried peas, chivda (chickpeas flour noodles) and flat rice topped with coriander, lemon, chopped onion and tomato.

Misal is often served with pav (the local bread bun) to balance its sharpness.

This array of spice-coated textures is sure to wake you from a slumberous mood.

Misal is a typical Maharashtrian dish enjoyed across the state, yet carefully customized in every household and restaurant. It is easily found in most Maharashtrian restaurants and teashops in Mumbai.

Average price: Rs 30 per plate.

Recommended at: Panshikar Aahaar, Shop 2, Gordhandas Building, J.S.S. Road, near Central Cinema, Girgaum; +91 (0)22 2386 1211, 5634 0941 

2. Poha

pohaPoha made of flattened rice is a comparatively light local breakfast. Compared to most other Maharashtrian breakfast snacks, poha is a relatively light dish made out of flattened, processed rice, roasted with chilies, onions, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves and topped with a squeeze of lime. Some poha recipes add sugar to the seasoning as well.

The soft tanginess of the lime gives the otherwise dryly flavored dish just the right kick and moisture to balance it out.

It is quick to prepare and easy to digest.

There is a variety of pohas, from the classic onion to the hearty potato or a fresh and aromatic coconut poha.

Like misal, poha is also found in most Maharashtrian restaurants and teashops. It is the perfect accompaniment to your morning chai and newspaper.

Average price: Rs 20 per plate.

Recommended at Hotel Vinay, 71183, Jawahar Mansion, Fanaswadi Corner, CP Tank, Girgaum; +91 (0)22 2208 1211

3. Sabudana vada

sabudana vadaSabudana vada is as local Maharashtrian as it gets.Sabudana is a spongy extract from tropical palm stems found in vast quantities in Maharashtra.

It is a pure carbohydrate with very little nutritional value, but said to be cooling to the system and especially popular as a fasting food.

The most enjoyable sabudana dish is no doubt sabudana vada.

A crunchy snack made from sabudana, potatoes, onions, green chili, cumin powder, ginger and lemon all mixed together, rolled into balls and then fried. The crust of the vada is beautifully crisp while the inside remains soft and chewy.

To get a taste of an authentic sabudana dish one must venture to Shivaji Park, an area in Mumbai named after a 17th-century warrior king. This patriotic neighborhood offers some small, no-frills but genuine Maharashtrian breakfasts.

Average price: Rs 30 per plate

Recommended at Aswad, shop 20, Anand Building, Sheetla Devi Temple Road, Mahim, Shivaji Park; +91 (0)22 2446 3214

4. Upma

upmaUpma, a traditional South Indian breakfast popular in Mumbai. Upma was originally a South Indian breakfast but it is found all over the country.

The Matunga neighborhood in Mumbai is known for its Udipi eateries and Ram Ashraya is one of its oldest, going back three generations and retaining authentic South Indian recipes.

The upma at Ram Ashraya in Matunga is just divine. A subtly flavored portion of semolina, onions, mustard seeds and curry leaves made in a fair amount of ghee that makes the semolina melt in your mouth like a hot snowflake.

Ram Ashraya is also known for itsneer dosa and seasonal sheeras (a sweet, dense dessert).

Ram Ashraya opens at 5 a.m., earlier than most breakfast joints, and serves idli, upma, sheera, tea and coffee till 7 a.m., after which they open up their full kitchen.

One may well visit in the wee hours of the morning for the perfect upma and a hot tumbler of south Indian coffee.

Average price: Rs 20 per plate

Recommended at Ram Ashraya, Bhandarkar Road, Matunga (Central Railway), Matunga; +91 (0)22 2414 2623, 2414 2369

5. Sali par edu

sali par eduSali par edu translates to eggs over chips. Edu in Parsi means egg. The Parsis are a protein-loving community and as such, are particularly fond of eggs.

They have many delicious egg dishes, akuri (scrambled eggs with spices) being one of the most popular, for good reason. But what tops it off for an indulgent hangover brunch is sali par edu.

The description of Parsi sali is one of those rare moments where the words thin and fried are used in conjunction to create thin fried potato sticks.

This sinful breakfast dish is fried sali further sautéed with onion, ginger, garlic, cumin and chilis and baked with eggs till nice and crisp.

This brilliant heavy breakfast goes wonderfully well with a nice cup of Irani chai.

Average price: Rs 90 per plate

Recommended at Jimmy Boy, Vikas Building, 11 Bank Street, off Horniman Circle, Fort;  2270 0880, 2266 2503+91 (0)22

Moina Luther is a freelance food media consultant based in Mumbai.

Read more about Moina Luther