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World's Most Classic Breakfasts

Dim sum breakfast spread at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong in the Harbour room.

Photo: Berton Chang

Indonesia and Malaysia

The morning meal in Bali, Jakarta, and Kuala Lumpur reflects the hegemony of rice. Variations include nasi goreng (fried rice with prawns, chicken, and egg), nasi lemak (coconut-infused rice with crisp anchovies), and bubur ayam (rice porridge with chicken, egg, and shallots). For the sweet tooth there’s pisang goreng (banana fritters with palm sugar).


Another soup-for-breakfast culture, with offerings that include floating fish balls or wontons. Tau suan (mung-bean soup) topped with slices of fried dough is a morning dessert. Toast is slathered with kaya, a coconut-egg jam that may be shockingly green from the addition of vanilla-scented pandan leaves.


Traditional South Indian breakfast means masala dosa (lacy crêpes filled with spiced potato and turmeric), idli (steamed lentil dumplings), and sambar, a tamarind-scented vegetarian soup. In Mumbai, you’ll find pohe (beaten rice flakes with aromatic spices); in Goa, egg curry; and in Rajasthan, puffy kachoris stuffed with beans or lentils, then fried in hot oil and served with assorted chutneys such as mint or coriander. The legendary breads of India include fluffy puris, flaky parathas, and soft buns called pao bhaji, served with a vegetable curry. The drink of choice is yogurt lassi, either sweet or salted.


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