Saturday, 2 February 2013

Breakfast Business


Photos - Amruta Nargundkar 

Ever noticed the phrase ‘breaking bread’ is so intrinsically a social activity that it really needs no further qualification such as ‘together’ or ‘with’? That eating is a social and familial experience is universally recognised. Don’t we seek to eat with company – family, friends and colleagues?  Even fellow travellers in a train share their toshas, towering tiffin carriers and dabbas with a generosity that is  surpassed only by the bounteous sharing of in-law gossip. Sharing with strangers is with abandon, without the fear of repercussions.

Eating alone is not a very happy thing for most. When left home alone, one often resorts to TV dinners. I can’t imagine setting a place for just myself at the table, like Mr. Bean in an episode. So sad!  Eating alone in a restaurant can’t be much fun either. And if you are a woman in the India of my time and space, probably not very common, too.

I hadn’t travelled alone much before I got involved in the business, and one of the first concerns about the role was the travelling to strange places alone, staying in hotels and eating alone, seeing sights alone and navigating my way through the trip all by myself. In fact, an elderly aunt had once expressed shock that my husband hadn’t accompanied me on the tour. The first time I ate alone while travelling on business was in a restaurant was in India.  As soon as I was shown to a table, I became aware of people staring at me. A little girl and a boy came running and giggling down the aisle and stopped short of my table, staring at me and when I teasingly raised my eyebrows, ran away in a fright! The waiter prolonged my discomfiture by not giving me the menu as he thought I was waiting for someone. I had to beckon and ask to be served and did so boldly and tucked into my thali meal even more defiantly.

But did I enjoy the meal? Probably not. For I began to seek refuge in the in-dining service when I was not dining in company, at times even at breakfast. Then on a trip to Vizag, I was filling out my breakfast order to place on the doorknob, when the words pesarattu jumped up at me. I simply had to have this! Vizag was famous for this, and it had to be eaten off the tava!

No regrets going down for breakfast the following morning, for I had the best, crispiest and most savoury pesarattus ever from the live station and tucked into the various chutneys, including the allum pacchadi (ginger chutney).

I must have drawn quite a few stares that day. But more for the obvious enjoyment with which I was hogging the pesarattus, keenly watching the chef expertly pour them out and chatting with him about the recipes, than for the fact that I was the only woman in the coffee shop full of freshly showered and shaved men in stiff business shirts - talking incessantly on their mobile phones, furiously typing on their laptops or reading the Economic Times or the Financial Review like kids cramming for an exam - while I was having fun!

Pesarattu (whole moong dosa)

Pesarattu is a very popular breakfast dish or a snack from Andhra Pradesh. Made with whole green moong beans, it’s very nutritious, full of protein and fibre and is very tasty.

It is usually served with a coconut chutney and yes, the allum pacchadi (ginger chutney).

In some restaurants in Hyderabad, pesarattu is served with upma rolled inside. This is called the MLA pesarattu, which was devised to proved the Andhra Pradesh MLAs with a filling breakfast before the assembly sessions! Many add a fried onion mixture on a it and serve it folded. Another way is to sprinkle chopped raw onions and chillies on the top after pouring the peasarattu and allow the onions to cook with it.

Some people like to ferment this batter, but I prefer to make the pesarattus straight away. They taste better that way – and moreover, who has the patience to wait?



3 cups soaked whole moong (mung beans) or moong dal (green gram) with skin, (you can use sprouted moong too)
1 cup raw rice soaked for 2 hours

You can vary this ratio slightly, using less rice if you like very soft pesarattus. 

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion chopped
A pinch of hing
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 green chillies (or more)
Salt to taste
Oil to make the pesarattu


Grind all the ingredients into a smooth batter and add salt to taste. Adjust all the flavours to your satisfaction.

Pour a round ladle full of the batter on a medium hot well-tempered dosa tava and start spreading the mixture from the centre outwards in increasing concentric circles to get a round shape. Drizzle a few drops of oil on the pesarattu and cover for a few minutes and reduce heat when you hear the sizzling of the condensed water drops from the lid falling on the hot tava. Cook on low heat till golden brown and crisp. Remove the cover check if the top is cooked. If it doesn’t look raw there is no need to flip the pesarattu.

Fold and serve hot with allum pacchadi (ginger chutney) and coconut chutney.


  1. Hi Shruti,

    Your entire account of the coffee shop and dining alone, quietly leading up to the Pesarattu and its recipe has fascinated me. Judging by the post, it seems to be a mouth watering delicious recipe.
    Now, you've got me hungry and I have to try this one.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe, maybe I can get it made to savor the taste. Probably, it might not be as good as the coffee shop Pesarattu. :)


    My Newest Blog Post | My Entry to Indiblogger Get Published

  2. that looks delish and easy to to get hold of raw rice soon!

  3. It was a great read :) and its going to be this dosa tom for me .... cant wait

  4. Well tried it today and it was just awweessomme

  5. Dosa for me never worked so great :( Still I keep trying n getting almost there :P

    Loved this crispy dosa!!!


Welcome weary web wanderer!
I hope you have found whatever you were looking for!
I would love to know what you thought of my recipes and posts- so why don't you drop a line?!