Breakfast is undoubtedly the most important meal of the day. But hot and humid weather makes it difficult to down regular morning staples like paratha, poori bhaji, or even eggs. Not only do they look and taste unappetizing, they don’t have the best effect on the body either.
So the first rule for a healthy breakfast, particularly during hot, humid weather, is to stick basically to more protein, some carbs and very little fat.
“Fried foods contain a lot of fat, which has a thermal effect on the body, leading to an increase in its temperature,” explains Jyothi Prasad, consultant nutritionist, Bangalore.
“To stay healthy, you have to keep the body in tune with nature, so we should always begin the day with a cooling breakfast,” says Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist and director, Whole Foods India, Delhi. “The best way to ensure this is to have cooling foods. Sattu, barley, all lentils, specially green moong, yogurt, fruits and most vegetables, and seafoods are cooling,” she adds. If eating cooling foods is the Rx, take your pick from the breakfast options below—all have cooling foods as their core ingredients. To maximize the benefits, pair these with a cooling drink .
Change the staples
Take inspiration from Bihar and Jharkhand and beat the heat with sattu (roasted chickpea flour). Try sattu paratha (makuni roti). Kanu Somany, a Delhi-based naturalist and organic farmer, shares the recipe:
You will need 50g of sattu flour, half a spoon of oil (optional), a pinch each of grated ginger and amchoor (dry mango powder), two pinches each of salt and red chilli powder. Mix all the ingredients and shape into lemon-sized balls. Roll a tomato-sized ball of wholewheat dough into a thin disc. Place the sattu ball in the centre, gather the edges of the dough and pinch, sealing in the sattu. Press gently into a thick disc and roll into a thin roti. Cook both sides on a hot skillet. “Instead of aloo paratha, eat this with dahi,” Somany says.
Jayashree Joshi Eashwar, co-founder of Dubdengreen, which retails organic food items through a shop in Delhi and the website , suggests switching to barley or amaranth porridge, instead of regular dalia. “Both are extremely cooling and are now easily available,” she adds.
In a hurry? Have fruit with yogurt. To make this a perfect hot weather breakfast, chop some fruits and add to a bowl of cold yogurt. “Most fruits have high water content, so it will help maintain your body fluid (which is lost rapidly in the heat) and yogurt is a cooling food. My vote goes for bananas as they are a rich source of potassium, which helps to regulate body fluid lost through excessive sweating, and are thus extremely cooling,” says Prasad.
Healthy:Vegetable salad or sprouts are a nutritious way to start the day.
Somany has a fabulous recipe for a quick sandwich: using cucumber, mint and yogurt. “Take hung curd, add salt, pepper, some chopped mint leaves and apply as a paste on two slices of bread. Then put thin slices of cucumber in between and chill in the fridge for a while before eating,” she says.
Craving for something spicy? Try a cooling potato chaat. Pressure-cook potatoes (about 150g) for about 7-8 minutes, then dice them into small cubes and make into a chaat-like salad with crushed chivda/roasted chana flakes, a tablespoon each of imli (tamarind) sauce and yogurt, a handful of sprouts (make it green moong sprouts), and a few slices of cucumber. If you have paneer (cottage cheese) handy, add a few pieces to boost some protein. Ideally, keep the boiled potatoes and tamarind sauce ready and refrigerated the night before.
You could try a simple fruit salad too: To make the dressing, combine 1 tsp honey, 1 tbsp orange juice, 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, juice of one lemon, a pinch each of poppy seeds, salt, and mustard in a jar with a tight lid; cover and shake well. Chop an apple and a banana, and toss these in a bowl with the juice of one lemon (to prevent the fruit from turning brown). Now combine the fruit, a few raisins and almonds (that have been soaked in water overnight and peeled) in a bowl. Add the dressing, stir gently, spread on red-leaf lettuce and dig in.
Get lentil power
To make a bean and vegetable salad, mash boiled rajma (kidney beans) or lobia (black-eyed beans) and mix with low-fat plain yogurt. Add spices and herbs as desired (mustard, dill, parsley or pepper). Spread on multigrain bread and top with lettuce, sliced cucumber and tomato. Chill and eat.
You can even try the seasoned sprouts that Renuka Kelkar, a cooking enthusiast, writer and photographer based in Delhi, suggests: Heat oil. Add a pinch each of mustard seeds, cumin, one slit chilli, hing or asafoetida (in this order). Immediately add half a cup or 75g of sprouts and stir-fry for about 2 minutes. Add salt (to taste), 1/4 tsp sugar and stir for another 15 seconds. Turn off the heat. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Season with chopped coriander while still hot.
Don’t have sprouts handy? Then make Kosambari, a no-cooking mix-and-match recipe from Karnataka; it has cooling lentils as the main ingredient. Soak 25g dal (split green moong or yellow moong lentils) for an hour. Discard the water and add half a carrot, grated; half a cucumber, chopped; and shredded coconut to the lentils. Add salt to taste, the juice of half a lemon, and some chopped coriander leaves. Mix well. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they start popping, add curry leaves, asafoetida and a dry red chilli, broken into pieces. Add the lentil mixture to this. Mix well and dig in. You can add some finely chopped apple on top too (apple is a cooling fruit).
Turn to the sea
Sid Khullar, CEO at Brands at Large in Noida, and a food blogger, suggests these options for those who like some meat in the morning:
Spicy Tuna Onion Salad: Toss 3 tbsp tuna (from a can) with 1 tbsp chopped onions, 1 chopped green chilli and 1 tbsp mayonnaise. Use as a sandwich filling.
Smoked Salmon and Golden Corn Parcels: Mix 2 tbsp golden corn and a few mashed capers with 1 tbsp mayonnaise or tartar sauce and spread on two wide strips of smoked salmon. Wrap each as a parcel so the corn doesn’t show through. Have chilled.
Prawn and Lettuce Rolls: Toss 2 tbsp of pre-cooked and chopped prawns in 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 pods of finely chopped garlic, a few basil leaves, freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt (to taste). Spoon on to large, lettuce leaves, roll, skewer, serve chilled.
‘Jamun’, barley and yogurt are perfect ingredients for a healthy beverage
• ‘Jamun’ sherbet: Crush 100g jamun without deseeding, add 1 tbsp powdered sugar, cover with muslin and leave in the sun for 20 minutes. Remove the seeds now, crush the pulp and strain. Add water to the juice to dilute.
• Barley drink: Add barley powder to water with a little lemon juice, salt, ‘bhuna jeera’ (roasted cumin) powder and ‘kala namak’.
• ‘Chaach’: Take yogurt, add water, black salt and roasted ‘jeera’, shake well. Add jaggery if you want it sweet.
• ‘Sattu’ drink: Take 1 tbsp ‘sattu’ powder, mix it in half a glass of water and half a glass of buttermilk, add powdered roasted ‘jeera’ and salt. Or simply mix some ‘sattu’ powder in water, and add jaggery.
• ‘Bael’ sherbet: Take ‘bael’ fruit or stone apple. Cut from the middle. Take out the the pulp and add to water. Leave for an hour or so. Then strain and chill. Add some jaggery if you like it sweet.
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