What do Sindhis eat for breakfast? Dal pakwan on Sundays and koki with chai on weekdays? Nah! That’s not how it is. While Dal pakwan is one of the most popular weekend breakfasts, and we do love our regular fix of koki with tea or dahi, there are several other dishes as well. Let’s talk about some of the most favourite breakfast items of the community.
Dal pakwan: This ‘fit for the kings’ breakfast is often held responsible for slipping people in food coma after a lazy Sunday brunch. The creamy chana dal topped with spicy mint coriander chutney scooped with a bite-sized crunchy, deep fried maida roti known as pakwan, is such a heady combination that you are bound to overeat. An indulgent Sunday meal that every Sindhi look forward to!
Chola dhabal and the very-popular Dal pakwan (right)
Dal moong-koki:At a Sindhi dominated neighbourhood, you will find carts and roadside shops adorned with huge aluminum Sipri (actually 2-3 of them), a special cooking vessel that Sindhi people use for cooking, placed on charcoal sigri. Generally, one filled with Moong (green gram, spiced up with garam masala) or matki (moth beans), second with chana dal (Bengal gram) and third with makhreen dal (yellow lentils cooked with salt and turmeric till creamy). The vendor will scoop few teaspoons from each container, and plonk it either on a big fresh leaf, or callously drop it in a dried leaf dona (nowadays they also use the modern aluminum foil containers). A dash of spicy chutney and a generous pinch of secret spice mix, some chopped tomatoes, onions, beetroot and potato chunks to notch up the flavours and you are ready to dig in. Piping hot dal moong with onion and annardana flavoured Koki is a match made in heaven.
Chola dhabhal: Yet another Sunday special breakfast at our home to give our dear mother a much deserved break from the kitchen. Chola is garbanzo beans while dhabhal in Sindhi refers to bread (or pao). Gupta Chole waala, opposite Satramdas hospital in Ulhasnagar was famous for its chola dhabhal as well as falooda. His cart had a stove with a large aluminum container, filled with dense spicy garbanzo curry, arranged on the sides of the container. The centre of the container was intermittently filled with dilute version of the gravy; a portion of dense curry (with beans) was then mixed with the dilute gravy, and allowed to simmer for a while. Few chunks of pao were then immersed in the simmering curry, scooped out and placed in a takeaway container, topped with some curry and beans, chunks of boiled potato, chutney and spice mix, some coriander leaves and nylon sev for the garnish.
Juar Jo Bathu is a porridge eaten usually during winters.
Seyun patata: A unique, sweet and savoury combination that Sindhis love to have on special days, particularly on the next day of the wedding, seyun patata is nothing but the sweet vermicelli served with shallow fried potato chunks spiced with red chilli powder, amchoor and coriander powder, along with salt and turmeric.
Seyal pao: Sindhis love pao! Period. The Mumbaiya laadi pao is a hot favourite and we not only love it with chickpeas curry, mutton curry, Kheema curry (got the drift?), but also use it to make a typical Sindhi dish called Seyal pao. Chopped potatoes and onions are cooked with some garlic and ginger, chopped tomatoes, chillies, some dry spices and coriander leaves to which a little water is added. Chunks of pao are then added to the simmering mixture till the bread absorbs all the water. This seyal pao with Sindhi papad is my personal favourite. A variation known as Seyal maani is made using leftover rotis instead of bread and generally instead of potato and onion, pounded mixture of coriander leaves, chilies, ginger and garlic is used as a base.
Seyal Pao (left) and Seyun Patata, which is sweet vermicelli served with potatoes.
Juar jo bathu: A must-have breakfast during winters, this porridge is made from coarse sorghum powder, slow cooked using water and green cardamom. Once cooked, a portion of it is ladled into a bowl, and some boiled milk (sweetened or unsweetened, depending on your choice) is added. Some also add a tempering of mustard seeds and ghee to the porridge. Strange but that’s how I too prefer my Juar jo bathu.
Apart from these dishes, patted jowar roti called Dodo, Bori (crumbled wheatflour roti with added sugar and tempered with ghee), malpura, koki with omelette, Lolo and stuffed paratha are also popular in most Sindhi homes.