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Breakfast as the new power lunch

Eggs and pancakes have embraced innovation as chefs give breakfast menus a creative upgrade for a busy clientele

Boteco's Açai with bananas berries and muesli.
Boteco's Açai with bananas berries and muesli. (Boteco)

Till a few years ago, the expectation from a breakfast menu was limited to eggs Benedict, avocado toast and smoothie bowls. Now, this meal has become a playground for chefs to flex their creativity.

Last month, chef Aarohi Sanghavi, hosted a French Alps themed winter breakfast at The Conservatory, a pop-up space in Bengaluru. It had Bourdaloue tart, oeuf cocotte (baked eggs) served with sourdough bread and cold cuts. Two years ago, Delhi’s popular AnnaMaya by Andaz introduced elaborate brunches to strike a balance between “comfort and creativity” with dishes such as pav bhaji donuts, a twist to the classic Indian recipe. These are breakfast menus channelling energy as the main ingredient.

Also read: A French Alps-inspired winter breakfast pop-up in Bengaluru

The rise in creative breakfast concepts is driven by a change in dining habits as people shift work meetings to early hours of the day. Food enthusiasts prefer to meet people over breakfast or brunch rather than dinner.

“Breakfast feels more wholesome. It’s nice to sit in daylight and not low-lit places just to have a good conversation,” says Maya Roy, who works in fashion technology in Bengaluru. Many people in Bengaluru have work meetings in the first half—over breakfast, brunch and coffee—to avoid traffic snarls. Sreeram Gangadharan, co-founder of the Maverick and Farmer café, agrees. “It’s become common now. From talking about funding for their start-ups to the usual corporate chatter, a lot can happen over coffee and a pulled pork sandwich.”

The breakfast space is still an uncrowded one, which allows chefs to innovate and unleash their creativity, says Akhila Srinivas, founder of The Conservatory. “Earlier the focus was on the quantity and the day-drinking aspect of brunch. People didn’t give too much thought to what the food will be. There was no theme, brunch itself was the concept,” says Srinivas. That is transforming with the first meal of the day getting an indulgent makeover, and a rise in demand for diverse breakfast experiences, leading to more elaborate and creative menus, she adds.

In November 2023, the Brazilian restaurant Boteco in Bengaluru launched a special breakfast menu. “We noticed a need for grander breakfasts and thought of showcasing the quintessential Brazilian breakfast experience,” says Boteco’s executive chef Guto Souza.

His menu has unexpected combinations to evoke a sense of surprise: Their toasties, combine sautéed spinach, cheese, garlic, poached eggs, ham and apricots to offer a blend of flavours. For healthy but indulgent acai bowls, they source acai from Brazil.

Some chefs have introduced traditional Indian breakfasts to cities where they might not be as popular in a premium dining set-up. Chef Amninder Sandhu has curated a new menu spotlighting Indian cuisine for his restaurant Bawri in Goa.

“A few years ago when people visited Goa, breakfast was a traditional European spread. Over time, this transitioned to smoothie bowls and avocado toasts. An Indian breakfast was never celebrated in the state,” she explains. Bawri’s new breakfast menu champions dishes from north and south India, like bedmi puri (lentil stuffed fried bread) with rassawala aloo (potato in a tangy tomato-based gravy) and halwa.

The search for novelty leads to innovation. Take the case of Bengaluru-based baker and chef Anurag Arora. A few years ago, he didn’t see any point in going out for breakfast because there was nothing that he couldn’t recreate at home.

During his travels, he realised that restaurants in cities like New York or Paris had so much to offer for breakfast— something that was missing in India. Back home, Arora, who is a designer, began to reimagine dishes and started a brunch club from his home in 2023.

Anurag Arora's prawn toast with curry
Anurag Arora's prawn toast with curry (Anurag Arora)

His offerings range from scallion waffles served with doenjang honey to gyoza bathed in sesame butter and chilli oil to potato hash accompanied by kimchi butter sauce. Arora usually organises these brunches once a month for around 30 people. “I wanted to bring a sense of excitement to the first meal of the day and offer something people usually can’t make at home,” he says.

Breakfast pop-ups have also found fans. Maverick and Farmer’s breakfast pop-ups in the last two years have focused on regionality. They organised a Kodaguthemed breakfast in August 2023 which included pandi curry and akki roti tacos, giving a Mexican twist to the classic dish.

Although breakfasts today are exploring different cultures and concepts, they are also reshaping the staples. Toast, for instance, is getting a new look. One of the most popular dishes on Arora’s menu is the prawn toast is topped with scallions and served with a curry that has a mix of Malaysian and Sri Lankan flavours.

While some have experimental breakfast menus, others offer waffles, Turkish eggs and pancakes through the day. In Mumbai, some of the most popular places are Bokka, Boojee Cafe and Kuckeliku. Chef Nuzha Ebrahim, who opened Kuckeliku Breakfast House in 2020, says, “Since the pandemic, people are not really sticking to traditional breakfast timing or foods. They come in to eat a good hearty breakfast during late afternoons, which was not the case before. Some restaurants cater to just lunch and dinner so why not have a place that serves just breakfasts.”

As breakfast is slowly taking centre stage, it wouldn’t be surprising if more places like Kuckeliku open to offer visually appealing yet satisfying meals. Souza puts it aptly, “People not only want to satisfy their hunger, they are looking for a culinary adventure.”

Also read: Time for Indian tea to show its fun side






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