Around the World: Traditional Breakfasts
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and starting the day with not just a healthy, but an ample amount of mouthwatering food boosts your energy and leads to a productive and full of action day.
Good food equals a good mood.
You could never go wrong with breakfast. Breakfast makes you think that you have something to look forward to. Something to be grateful for. Every kind of food has its origin and history. And every set of meals tells a whole lot, different stories.
We all have our own preference of a good breakfast meal, don’t we? And for sure, we are curious about whether we have the same or different traditional breakfast meals along with other countries. This is why we will dig deep and explore the different breakfast meals from around the world.
First featured breakfast is called Medialunas, which is originally from Argentina
Medialunas are traditional Argentinian sweet croissants. You will find them in panaderias in Buenos Aires and throughout Argentina. Medialunas on occasion is filled with dulce de leche or pastry cream. Legend has it that in the early 16th Century during the Ottoman attack on Vienna, Austrians created a crescent-shaped puff pastry, similar to a croissant, in reference to the crescent moon and star that are a widely recognized symbol of Islam. Austrians would eat these crescents in front of Turkish soldiers as a way to blaspheme their occupiers. Centuries later when the European pastries made their way to South America; known today in Argentina as medialunas, the pastries are topped with a sticky layer of saccharine syrup.
Next up is food that originated from Australia, Vegemite
This one is a thick, black spread that’s made from brewer’s yeast extract, and is known as Vegemite. This brewer’s yeast extract is indeed a by-product of beer manufacture and, along with salt, malt extract from barley, vegetable extract, and B vitamins, it’s what gives Vegemite its unique flavor. Vegemite has a history spanning over 90 years. Back in 1922, cheesemaker Fred Walker joined forces with a young chemist to produce a yeast-based savory spread. Originally called ‘Pure Vegetable Extract’, after a nationwide naming competition, Walker’s daughter selected the winning name, Vegemite. Fast forward to today and Vegemite is 94 years old, and it’s become one of the country’s most ‘Australian’ foods. Over 22 million jars are sold and 6,800 tonnes are produced each year.
Third food is from Bangladesh more commonly known as Chapati
Chapati is a type of Indian flatbread, it’s very popular in India. It is a staple and made of really simple ingredients: wheat flour, salt, and water. Chapati and roti are almost exactly the same.
Both are unleavened flatbreads but the main difference comes from the method of cooking but even that varies as the difference depends mostly on what region you are in. Some say that Chapati came from the Egyptian Indus Valley civilization 5000 years ago. Others claim it was founded in East Africa and brought over to India. However, the most common evidence is that it was founded in Southern India. Chapati is mentioned in an old Sanskrit text from over 6000 years ago.
Next food is called Banitsa, which originated from Bulgaria
It is a pastry that can be enjoyed hot or cold that is made by layering whisked eggs and cheese between sheets of filo pastry before being baked and is traditionally served along with plain yogurt or with ayran (a yogurt-based drink) or boza (a fermented grain drink). This delicious Bulgarian Feta Pie “Banitsa” is a true gem of Balkan cuisine. Made with layers of filo dough, crumbled feta, and eggs, it makes a perfect breakfast or mid-day snack. The Bulgarian word banitsa (баница) derives from the old Bulgarian (гъбнѫти) and means “to lie down”. In Bulgaria, banitsa is a symbol of Bulgarian cuisine and traditions. Banitsa is a filled pastry that can be sweet or savory depending on the ingredients used.
Onto the next breakfast food is a meal known as Jianbing
In Taiwan, a kind of crepe called jianbing is common street food and a typical breakfast. The name literally means “fried pancake.” Made from egg and wheat flour, the crepes can be topped with an array of different ingredients from ham and scallions to soybeans, peanuts, eggs, or pork as well as hoisin and chili sauce. Jianbing stands are the ephemeral breakfast architecture of every Chinese city. At around five in the morning, the vendors appear with everything they need, packed on the back of a bicycle or motorbike: A heavy circular grill, a few tubs of ingredients, and a tin box for collecting their takes. Jianbing has a longer history than almost any other Chinese street food. Thought to have originated in Shandong Province during the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280 AD), military strategist Zhuge Liang had his soldiers cook batter on shields held over the fire after their works were lost.
Colombia also has their own their traditional breakfast known as Changua
In the central Andres regions of Colombia, a hearty breakfast often included changua — a soup made with water, milk, and potatoes that are typically served with an egg on top. When the soup boils, a fresh egg is cracked over it without breaking the yolk and then allowed to cook in the hot broth. It may be served with a sprinkling of fried scallions or cilantro as well as stale bread (which is softened in the soup) and perhaps even some pieces of cheese melted into it. The traditional changua recipe, and individual variations of it, are said to have been passed down by mothers and grandmothers from generation to generation leading back to the Muisca tribe. The Muisca tribe, or Chibcha, is an indigenous community that predominantly lived in the central Andean highlands of Colombia; they lived with the mountains and prepared the majority of their food from scratch.
For Costa Rica, there is nothing better to eat other than their traditional breakfast, Gallo Pinto
Gallo Pinto is a delicious combination of rice and beans that are first cooked separately and then fried together, seasoned with cilantro, and often served with fried eggs and plantains. Gallo Pinto means, quite literally, “Spotted Rooster” in Spanish, characterizing the speckled appearance of the dark beans against the white rice. According to legend, Gallo Pinto was created in the San Jose neighborhood of San Sabastian in 1930. According to the story, a small farm owner spent several months fattening up a spotted rooster for a dinner party he was having. The exact origins of Gallo Pinto are hotly debated in Central America and have sparked an unparalleled rivalry between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, with both countries claiming that the dish originated on its soil.
Eastern Africa have their own fair share of delicacies, and one particular delicacy is their breakfast food named Mandazi
In Eastern Africa, one breakfast that is particularly common is mandazi (sometimes called mahamri). These soft, triangular doughnuts, often made with coconut milk and flavored with ground cardamom, are usually enjoyed with a cup of simple tea or spiced chai. In Eastern Africa, mandazi is a Kenyan food that is made from a simple dough that is deep-fried until puffy and light. It has a slightly sweet, sometimes spicy flavor that has made it popular as a breakfast or dessert dish and as a daytime snack. The dough can have ingredients such as crushed peanuts or toasted coconut mixed in with it, and the finished bread can be coated in sugar or fruit preserves.
The next breakfast food is from Egypt, Ful Medames
Ful Medames, the national dish of Egypt is a fava bean stew that some have suggested dates back to ancient Egyptian times. It is made with dried fava beans that are gently cooked and simply flavored. Once it is time to eat, small dishes of flavorings and aromatics like extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes, crushed garlic, lemon, and cumin are passed around. Other garnishes, like hard-boiled eggs, cucumber and tomato salad, scallions, and tahini, are also sometimes included.
Our tenth meal is Haleem from Iran
Haleem is a dish popular throughout the Middle East as well as Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. It is a stew similar to farina and is made from wheat, barley, minced beef or mutton, lentil, lots of spices, and sometimes rice. The ingredients are all cooked together on low heat for up to eight hours, which yields a thick puree-like consistency that is garnished with fried onion, chaat masala, chili, ginger, cilantro, and lemon. Haleem originated as an Arabic dish with meat and pounded wheat as the chief ingredients. It was introduced to Hyderabad by the Arab diaspora during the rule of the sixth Nizam, Mahbub Ali Khan, and later became an integral part of Hyderabadi cuisine during the rule of the seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan.
Next up is a breakfast from Israel called, Shakshuka
In Israel, it is the communal style of breakfast rather than the food itself which is so distinctive. The communal style of dining together stems from the collective farming communities; individuals who lived together in a kibbutz shared all belongings and ate together in a communal dining hall — which was considered to be a very important part of the communal way of life. These days many hotels offer a hearty, self-service breakfast buffet, once promoted as “Israeli breakfast” in a nod to the style in which the kibbutz meals were eaten. Shakshuka, a dish of eggs poached in a tomato sauce that’s flavored with onion, chili pepper, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper, is a dish commonly found at these buffet-style breakfasts.
Coming up is the morning meal Ackee and Saltfish
Ackee and saltfish is the national dish of Jamaica and ackee — a fruit that belongs to the same family as the lychee — is also the national fruit of Jamaica. To prepare the dish, saltfish (also known as salt cod) gets sautéed with boiled ackee (often canned ackee is used), onions, scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes, and spices and is most commonly served with breadfruit, bread, and fried plantain.
Youtiao is one traditional breakfast that originated from China
In mainland China (as well as parts of East and Southeast Asia), deep-fried breadsticks called youtiao — sometimes called “Chinese doughnuts” or “Chinese crullers” abroad — are a breakfast staple. They’re lightly salted strips of savory rather than sweet dough that is shaped so that they tear lengthwise in half easily. Youtiao is usually served with congee (rice porridge) or warm soy milk. Youtiao had its origin dating back to the story of Yue Fei during the Southern Song Dynasty.
Malaysia also has their own version of breakfast, Nasi Lemak
Nasi lemak, an aromatic rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, is the national dish of Malaysia. It is a simple and hearty dish that’s sure to keep you satisfied until lunchtime. Nasi lemak is an incredibly versatile dish that, though usually eaten in the morning, can in fact be eaten throughout the day. It’s often served with sambal, boiled eggs, peanuts, sliced cucumber, and deep-fried anchovies. The origins of Nasi Lemak can be traced back to 1909 when it was first mentioned in a book titled “The Circumstances of Malay Life”, written by Sir Richard Olof Winstedt. It is recognized as a Malay dish and was popularised as a breakfast food.
15th on the list is a dish called Chilaquiles
Though the dish changes depending on the region, chilaquiles is a uniquely Mexican dish. Corn tortillas are cut into pieces and lightly fried, then simmered in salsa or mole until the tortillas begin to soften slightly. The mixture is then topped with any number and combination of garnishes — from crema or queso fresco to pulled chicken, raw onion, avocado, or a fried egg — and usually accompanied by rice and beans. Chilaquiles are said to have been first brought to America in a cookbook by Encarnación Pinedo, “The Spanish Cook” in 1898. The basic makings of traditional chilaquiles are simply crunchy fried corn tortilla pieces, with a chile salsa over them; simmered until the tortilla starts softening to absorb the sauce’s flavor.
Morocco has their Msemen as a traditional breakfast
Of course, in Morocco, mint tea is a must at any time of day. Along with mint tea, “msemen” is a great way to break the night’s fast. Msemen are rich, pancake-like bread that are made by rolling out the dough as thin as possible on an oiled surface before folding it to create eight layers that yield a crispy exterior and chewy middle once cooked. Msemen is usually served with butter and honey or jam, but can also be stuffed with vegetables or meat for a more savory breakfast. The recipe uses flour, semolina, yeast, water, sugar, and clarified butter: this traditionally square Moroccan pancake is composed of a series of thin overlapping layers of dough folded onto each other, to form a kind of thick and fluffy pancake. They are cooked on a hot plate lightly greased with a little oil or butter, usually stuffed with vegetables or meat, according to preference. The origin of the name is Arabic samen or smen, which means “clarified butter.” The word me-samen means, therefore, “with clarified butter”, an essential ingredient for the preparation of this product.
Another breakfast meal is Mohinga, which is from Myanmar
Considered by many to be the national dish of Myanmar, mohinga is a breakfast noodle soup. Made with river catfish, vermicelli noodles, banana tree stems, lemongrass, onions, garlic, ginger, fish paste, and fish sauce and garnished with lime juice, cilantro, spring onions, and dried chiles, this soup is all about a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors. What better way to shake the sleep from your eyes than with a bowlful of flavor? Mohinga is comfort food, a taste of home.” And that’s why it’s the perfect dish for getting to know this wonderfully diverse country, home to more than 100 ethnicities and bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. When it comes to the origin, various accounts exist, some of them dating as far back to the first century. By the 19th century, mohinga was regarded as a working-class meal due to its low cost, but over time, it has become so popular that today it can even be purchased as a ready-made soup.
Proceeding to the list, we have a food from Netherlands
The Netherlands must truly be a magical place because along with more typical breakfast foods like cheese, cold meats, and toast with jam or honey, the Dutch also enjoy hagelslag on their sliced and buttered bread. ”What is hagelslag?” you ask? Well, simply put, the wonderfully Roald Dahl-esque word actually refers to candy sprinkles. That’s right. Sprinkles. The hagelslag comes in chocolate, vanilla and fruit flavors, and this breakfast item (much like the “fairy toast” of Australia) is what childhood dreams are made of. According to the Amsterdam City Archives, hagelslag was first invented by B.E. Dieperink, director of the licorice sweet company VENCO, in 1919. He came upon the idea of making brittle, white aniseed-flavored sprinkles and using them as a bread topping during a hailstorm on a bleak autumn day, apparently.
Following Hagelsag is Kosai from Nigeria
In Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, fried bean cakes or fritters called kosai are a breakfast favorite. Made from black-eyed peas flavored with onions, dried chili, and fresh red chili peppers and then deep-fried in oil, this street food is enjoyed either hot from the oil or wrapped and saved for later. It also comes with different names in the various parts of Nigeria. While it is called Akara in Yoruba land, it is known as kosai in the Hausa language. You may not know that while Akara (the one called bean cake) is a popular snack in Nigeria, it is used as a sacrifice for the gods in Brazil, a report has shown.
Number 20 on the list is a dish called Chana Poori
In North India, chana poori is a combination of chana masala, a tasty chickpea and tomato curry, and poori —unleavened flatbreads that are deep-fried so that they puff up with steam to create a hollow center. Channa poori is often eaten on special days or ceremonial functions, but it’s also a common street food that is enjoyed for breakfast as well as a snack or light meal.
Similar to prior dish is a Halwa Puri from Pakistan
Like in northern India, puri or poori is also a breakfast staple in Pakistan, but instead of a savory pairing of chickpeas, puri in Pakistan are more often enjoyed with halwa, a slightly gelatinous sweet usually made from semolina, sugar, and ghee.
Following the list is Tacacho con Cecina from Peru
Popular street food and breakfast enjoyed by many, the Peruvian dish tacacho con cecina is simple and satisfying — roasted plantain fritters (tacachao) that are usually served with bits of pork on top. Tacacho is a traditional Peruvian meal that is typically served for breakfast. It originates from the Amazonas region, where the natives boil or grill the plantains, peel them, then mash them in a large wooden mortar. When mashed, the plantains are combined with lard, salt, and tiny pieces of pork rind. The combination is then rolled into a ball and served with chorizo, various freshly harvested regional vegetables, and salted dried pork known as cecina. There is also the Ecuadorian version of tacacho, known as bolón de verde. Even though this dish can easily be found in Lima, it is recommended to also try it in Madre de Dios, San Martín, and Iquitos.
Following Peru is a country that features Tapsilog as their famous breakfast meal, Philippines
In the Philippines, tapsilog is a great way to start the day. The word itself is actually a portmanteau of the names of the dishes that make up this breakfast food — tapa (thin slices of meat), sinangag (garlic fried rice), and itlog (eggs) — which all team up to make this delectable dish. The year was 1986—a momentous year for many reasons: It was the year the Oprah Winfrey Show debuted, the year the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster occurred, and, closer to home, the year the People Power Revolution shocked the world. As these world-changing events took place, a woman opened a humble tapa store in a little corner of a parking lot, not knowing that she, too, was starting a revolution that would change the country forever. She had no idea that her simple budget meal would become a national cultural icon: the tapsilog. Vivian Del Rosario popularized the beloved tapsilog, including its name. In 1986, she opened a simple canteen that catered to the masses: jeepney drivers, tricycle drivers, and people on a restricted budget. She named the store Tapsi ni Vivian at Bulaluhan, where she sold bulalo and tapsilog.
Poland has their own version of a good breakfast meal. It is known as Kanapki
Breakfast in Poland is a sustaining affair with bread rolls, butter, and jam as well as cheese, ham, sausages, and eggs. Diners often use a wide selection of ingredients to make individual kanapki, which are tasty open-faced sandwiches, which sound like a delicious thing to have first thing in the morning. Whether highbrow or everyday, Polish sandwich cuisine draws from a long tradition that may just surprise you. Kanapki (from the French word “canapés”) appeared in Poland at the end of the 19th century thanks to French cuisine. Smaller open sandwiches, or canapés, were actually called “tartinki”. The names have a certain irony here though, as “tartines” in France are actually large open sandwiches, while, as everybody knows, canapés are bite-sized. Though initially must-haves at the exclusive parties of the rich, tartinki were later democratized, and during the communist period, they were a crucial ingredient in the everyday diet of the average Pole. Big Anglo-Saxon-style sandwiches only became trendy in Poland comparatively recently.
Russia was known for their famous cuisines such as beef stroganoff, borscht and shashlik, although there is also something fascinating with their traditional breakfast
Kasha, one of Russia’s national dishes, is whole-grain buckwheat that is roasted whole. But the term kasha also refers more generally to porridge, which is a common breakfast in Russia and can be made from buckwheat as well as semolina or oats, often cooked with milk and sugar and served with jam. Porridge (kasha in Russian) is more than just a breakfast staple in Russia. Kasha has a long history, dating back to the pagan traditions of ancient Russia since porridge and the grains it was made from were gifts from Mother Earth. There were several important traditions and rituals related to porridge and major life events. When a child was born, kasha was cooked with the meat of a rooster for a boy, and a hen for a girl. When a couple decided to get married, they would cook porridge together to ensure prosperity and plenty in their life together. Before the battle, Russians would cook several cauldrons of porridge to feed all of the troops, and more kasha was cooked after victory and during reconciliation after a battle. A special type of porridge was made for Christmas Eve and for memorial services after a death.
Senegal has Cafe Touba as their standard breakfast.
In Senegal, café touba, a traditional coffee beverage, is particularly popular around breakfast time. It is made with coffee beans that are seasoned with grains of Selim pepper and cloves before being ground into a powder and brewed like drip coffee. The end result is a drink that is strong and spicy and is said to have amazing restorative powers. In the 19th century, people first started talking about this drink which, according to the most realistic version of the story, was introduced to Senegal thanks to a spiritual leader, the sheik Ahmadou Bamba. He founded the city from which this coffee takes its name, Touba (Tūbā in Arabic means “happiness”).
The Guinean pepper, used in the preparation of Touba coffee, was commonly found in Europe up until the 1500s. Following that time, the Venetian merchants started importing black pepper from India, the same that we still use today in our recipes. The flavor of Guinean pepper is quite spicy, with an almost smoky flavor, and has an aftertaste of nutmeg; it is used in pods, added to the preparation after having been coarsely ground. In the 19th century, people first started talking about this drink which, according to the most realistic version of the story, was introduced to Senegal thanks to a spiritual leader, the sheik Ahmadou Bamba. He founded the city from which this coffee takes its name, Touba (Tūbā in Arabic means “happiness”).
Let us proceed to another common breakfast in another Asian country
Kaya toast is a well-known and much-loved snack in Singapore and is considered by many to be a breakfast staple. It is made with toast that is then slathered in coconut jam called kaya — a mixture of coconut milk, sugar, and eggs — and sometimes topped with a pat of cold butter. Kaya toast is often accompanied by a boiled egg and a cup of coffee. It is the perfect snack that goes very well with a cup of local kopi (coffee) or teh (tea)—charcoal-grilled or toasted slices of bread enveloping slivers of cold butter and a generous spread of kaya (a traditional jam made from coconut and eggs).
Some eat this toasted sandwich for breakfast, others prefer it for tea. More often than not, it is accompanied by two soft-boiled eggs with runny yolks and translucent whites with a dash of dark soya and white pepper. The savory eggs are a good complement to the sweet kaya toast which has an appetizing crispy crunch, a melt-in-your-mouth layer of olive-green kaya, and a generous dollop of butter. This snack is credited to the Hainanese, such as the founders of Ya Kun Kaya Toast and Kheng Hoe Heng Coffeeshop – the predecessor to Killiney Kopitiam. Ya Kun, a coffee stall since 1944, is known for its wafer-thin brown bread slices and flavourful kaya. Kheng Hoe Heng, set up in 1919, is the oldest Hainanese coffee shop in Singapore, famous for its white bread kaya toast. It was bought over by a regular customer in 1993 who renamed it Killiney Kopitiam. But it was only after 2000 that the kaya toast scene took off in Singapore when Ya Kun and Killiney started expanding with new outlets in shopping malls. Since then, there has been a slew of new coffee joints selling kaya toast. There’re tons of variations in how kaya toast is prepared. Try this beloved breakfast staple at different outlets, and see if you can identify which version of the dish you’re being served with.
Somalia’s Canjeero is also among the list of customary breakfast around the world
In Somalia, canjeero is a fermented sourdough flatbread that looks like a large pancake and has a spongy texture. It is the cousin of the Ethiopian flatbread injera, and it is the base of most Somali breakfasts. It’s often eaten with savory foods at dinner, but for breakfast Somalians typically enjoy canjeero drizzled with ghee or butter and sugar along with a cup of tea. The anjero would be sprinkled with some sugar and drizzled with a little sesame oil or melted ghee. For those who can afford it, the anjero is served with liver and onions, with suqaar (small pieces of beef), or with oodkac (tiny pieces of jerky-style beef). Occasionally anjero is eaten during lunch. It is served with a tomato-based stew or with a goat and vegetable stew. Anjero was traditionally made of maize, flour, and water. Different types of flour were used; the most common being wheat flour, sorghum flour, and cornflour. The maize was ground finely and then made into a paste. This was then added to the flour and water and was left to ferment overnight. When the anjero was cooked in the morning, some of the fermented batters was left for preparing the next day’s anjero. Nowadays, Somalis use self-rising flour or a combination of all-purpose flour and baking powder. Yeast is used to cutting the time needed for fermentation. It is very common to combine different types of flour to help improve the texture of the anjero. Below, you will find several recipes of anjero using different ingredients. This will help you make anjero with ingredients that are more readily available in your area. You can also experiment with the different recipes and find the one that best suits your tastes.
South Africa also carries the idea of breakfast in the form of a porridge called Putu Pap
Putu pap, a porridge made with maize meal and water cooked together to form a dry and fluffy texture, is a common breakfast in South Africa. Also known as krummelpap, which means “crumbly texture,” it is often eaten with milk and sugar for breakfast and paired with more savory dishes late in the day.
Last but not the least on our list is a traditional breakfast called Pho which came all the way from Vietnam
Breakfast in Vietnam is very often a street-food affair, as lots of different food stands offer a fast and delicious meal to satisfy hungry stomachs. Among the most iconic and popular of Vietnamese breakfast foods is, of course, pho — a sustaining and delectable rice noodle soup with a clear broth (traditionally made with beef or chicken) that is topped with paper-thin slices of raw beef and an abundance of aromatic herbs, lime, crunchy bean sprouts, and spicy fresh chiles, all of which cook together in the comforting heat of the soup. People look at a bowl of pho and they think it’s an ancient food, but it’s not. It was invented sometime around the beginning of the 20th century in and around Hanoi; it’s Northern Vietnamese food. If you look at a map of Vietnam, Hanoi is very close to the Chinese. China is right there with its neighbors, and they influenced Vietnam on and off for a total of 1,000 years. The first pho was invented probably by someone of Chinese origin and sold as street food to a lot of coolies who worked on the Red River. Vietnam was under French colonial power at that point. The reason why pho came about was that the French colonials started slaughtering a lot of cows. Cows are traditionally draft animals, so there were a lot of spare parts left: tough cuts and bones. The Vietnamese street vendors at that time had a water buffalo, rice noodle, and broth dish. All of the sudden, there were these great sales on beef. The butchers were pushing a lot of beef, and the Vietnamese weren’t used to eating beef, because the cows were supposed to be working in the fields for you. The street vendors saw an opportunity; they switched the beef for the water buffalo. Eventually, they switched the round rice noodles — the vermicelli type of noodles – for a flat rice noodle, which is what we identify nowadays with pho or pad Thai. They kept tweaking things so that eventually we have pho as what we know it today. A lot of people think that pho is somehow related to French pot-au-feu –
We have reached the end of our list for delicious and irresistible breakfasts from around the world. What do you think? Have you had some of these foods before? Let us know if we missed something on our list. And remember…A good meal is always a good deal.