A love letter to dosa: Power-ranking South Indian breakfast foods

Photo of breakfast
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South India is the home of magnificent temples, breathtaking nature, Carnatic music and four different classical dance forms. But if there’s one thing that we’re known for, it is our intricate, and ridiculously delicious, variety of breakfast foods. South Indian breakfast dishes are enjoyed around the world. We at the Clog decided it was time that we ranked them. 

1. Dosa 

If there’s one thing on this list that no South Indian will ever argue with, it is that dosa belongs at the top. In all its crispy, paper-thin, golden-brown goodness, the existence of Dosa is what makes me get out of bed every morning. It is easily my answer to the question: “If you could only choose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?” There are so many different kinds: plain dosa (which, unlike the name suggests, is anything but plain), masala dosa, rava dosa, onion dosa — the list goes on. All of them can be enjoyed with sambar, chutneys, podi and ghee, or just as they are. If I had to guess what taking a stroll in heaven feels like, eating a dosa seems like it would be pretty close. It pains me whenever dosas are described to those unfamiliar with them as “savory crepes.” I hate to break it to you, but crepes are actually sweet dosas. 

2. Idli 

Idli is synonymous with comfort. They even look like soft, fluffy, white pillows. These warm, steamed rice cakes are the perfect breakfast for a relaxing day, and even one of the healthiest options. Take a piece and dip it in ghee and sambar — it feels like someone is giving you a hug from the inside. There is nothing better than idli to kickstart your day or to pick you up when you’re tired. Well, nothing except for dosa, of course. 

3. Uttapam

Talk about the best of both worlds — uttapam is a kind of dosa that you make with idli batter. It is thick, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and absolutely divine. Add onions and chopped green chilies — it really packs a punch. Uttapam is guaranteed to keep you full and satisfied all day long.

4. Vada 

Vada reminds me of special occasions — weddings, family functions, you name it. These savory, deep-fried, doughnut-like fritters bring a festive feel to your morning meal. Just like the others, they too can be enjoyed plain, or with sambar and various chutneys. The only downsides are that they are harder to prepare and not the healthiest, and can leave you feeling too full. 

5. Upma 

Waking up to find out that there is upma for breakfast feels like getting a C on a test. Crushing disappointment, but hey, at least you didn’t fail. Compared to the other breakfast foods, this mushy, porridge-like concoction isn’t the best South India has to offer. Interestingly, the elders in the family all seem to love it. Perhaps, it is an acquired taste. For now, however, it’s a pass from me. 

6. Poha 

Poha is the villain of this ensemble. Nothing with whole peanuts in it should ever be trusted. 1/10. 

We hope you enjoyed this impassioned power-ranking. If you ever find yourself in South India, or at any of the countless South Indian restaurants in the Bay Area, you now know what to order.

Contact Saamya Mungamuru at [email protected].