Just like a traditional American breakfast, a traditional South Indian breakfast is elaborate. Consisting of a combination of dishes, a South Indian breakfast is famous for its variety, flavors and colors.

This summer, I attended a family function in Karnataka, a state in India, where I was served a typical South Indian breakfast. My meal included a total of seven courses. Needless to say, I’ve been craving more ever since.

1. Mysore Bonda

indian breakfast

Photo courtesy of @leahev on Instagram

This savory snack is a fried dumpling made from black garam, rice flour and whole black peppers. The crisp outer shell filled with a soft, fluffy inside makes for a mouth-watering snack to kickstart your appetite.

2. Idli

indian breakfast

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An Idli is a light and fluffy steamed cake made from fermented black lentils and rice. Due to its bland taste, it is usually eaten with a spicy chutney or stew. This cake is one of the most popular South Indian breakfast items internationally and originated in Tamil Nadu, India.

3. Sambar/Sambhar

indian breakfast

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Sambar is known to be an accompaniment for various items like dosas, idlis and rice. Sambar is a flavorful, lentil-based vegetable stew with tamarind as the main ingredient. The spicy and tangy dish is native to Tamil Nadu, India.

4. Vegetable Uppumavu (Upma)

indian breakfast

Photo by Varsha Balasubramanian

This dish’s name varies from state to state in South India and has no known origin. Uppumavu (more popularly known as “upma”) is usually made from roasted semolina or coarse rice flour. Vegetables and spices can also be added for extra flavor. Upma is a staple dish in every South Indian household and has a high nutritive value.

5. Coconut Chutney

indian breakfast

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This well-known condiment, highly popular in Tamil Nadu, is mainly made of coconut, green chillies, roasted gram and ginger. It is usually served with foods like dosas, idlis or vadas. There is a traditional recipe for this chutney, but it can also be made in a number of ways according to one’s liking.

6. Tomato-Onion Red Chutney (Chammandi)

indian breakfast

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Apart from coconut chutney, this onion-tomato chutney is also served as a condiment to be eaten with main dishes. The onion-tomato chutney is spicier and complements the subtle taste of the coconut chutney well.

7. Rava Kesari (Kesari Bhath)

indian breakfast

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No meal, including breakfast, is complete without dessert. Kesari is a famous South Indian sweet dish that originated from Tamil Nadu. The dessert is mainly made from semolina and sugar, but can can also include flavors such as pineapple, orange and mango.