12 International breakfasts you’ve probably never heard of

By Abigail D’Souza @abi_dsouzaa

Rise and shine! 

Hailed as the most important meal of the day, breakfast takes on a myriad of forms and flavours across the globe, reflecting the diversity of our culinary traditions.  

And by exploring these regional tastes, routines, and techniques, we begin to paint the vivid tapestry that is food.  

  1. Çılbır – Turkey 

A dish making its debut across Aussie cafes, the comforting Turkish breakfast combines cold garlic yoghurt contrasted by warm eggs poached in a shallow pan. Melted butter or olive oil combined with aleppo pepper flakes known as “pul biber” is then poured on top of the eggs. 

The runny yolks and sauce are best mopped up with Turkish breads like simit or barbari. 

Turkish breakfast is simple, nutritious and satisfying. Photo: vaaseenaa/Adobe Stock  
  1. Tapsilog – Phillipines 

An umami wonderland of fragrant garlic fried rice (sinangag), tender strips of marinated beef (tapa) and a fried egg (itlog). Combine these three Filipino words and you get the portmanteau, Tapsilog.  

For pork lovers, another delicious variation ‘lapsilog’ swaps the beef tapa for Filipino longganisa sausage. 

The warm nature of Filipino people can be experienced in their cooking. Photo: Michael Edwards/iStock 
  1. Mandazi- Kenya  

Hailing from the Swahili coast, mandazi is an addictive cardamon-infused donut with a slight sweetness and comforting nature. Although it resembles the renowned French Beignet, mandazi’s distinct flavour and triangular shape distinguishes it from its adjacents, the Nigerian “puff-puff”, Fijian “babakau”, and Samoan “panikeke”.  

Mandazi is paired perfectly with a hot cup of chai or coffee. 

Fried doughnuts for breakfast are always a guaranteed win. Photo: Maria/Adobe Stock
  1. Ful Mudammas – Egypt 

A dish dating back to the pharaohs, ful is a hearty vegan dish of stewed, mashed fava beans. Traditionally cooked in a pot called a “kedra”, the beans are slow cooked with fresh parsley, onion, tomatoes, spices, and lemon, then drizzled with olive oil. Ful also has different variations across the Middle East. 

Enjoy the dish with “aish baladi”, an Egyptian flatbread 

Food tastes better when you eat it with your hands. Photo: uckyo/Adobe Stock 
  1. Idli and dosa- India 

Idli is a popular South Indian dish made by steaming fermented rice and lentil batter in an idli mold until it resembles a fluffy cake. Dosa uses the same batter, which is spread thinly across a hotplate or dosa pan until golden and crispy before being folded, rolled up and sometimes filled. 

Both idli and dosa are served with sambar, a spicy vegetable stew, and a variety of coconut-based chutneys. 

South-Indian food is criminally overlooked. vm2002/Adobe Stock
  1. Mangú con los tres golpes – Dominican Republic 

You’ve heard of mashed potatoes. How about mashed plantains? Mangu is made by mashing boiled green plantains with water and butter or oil until creamy. The “con los tres golpes”, meaning three strikes, comes from frying up some eggs, Dominican salami and queso para freir, a firm white cheese, to accompany the mangu.  

Finish with a refreshingly acidic accompaniment of pickled red onions and sliced avocado. 

Latin America’s delicious answer to the ‘fry up.’ Photo: Rob Byron/Adobe Stock

7. Syrniki – Russia 

Although seemingly unassuming, Syrniki aren’t your typical breakfast pancakes. “Syr”, meaning cheese in Russian, is the primary ingredient where a farmer’s cheese called “tvorog” is used specifically. Tvorog can be likened to a hybrid of ricotta and cottage cheese with the sourness of yoghurt. When added to the batter the pancake achieves a soft and creamy interior.  

They’re often accompanied by fruit preserves and sour cream. 

These pancakes are enjoyed throughout Slavic countries. Photo: La_vanda/iStock 

8. Pan con chicharron – Peru 

A texture and flavour sensation, this Peruvian breakfast is popular in the capital city, Lima. Crunchy pork belly known as chicharron, crispy fried sweet potato and a pickled onion relish called salsa criolla are sandwiched between a French roll, providing satiation for several hours. 

There’s no wonder Peru is known for its A-class sandwiches. 

The Peruvians know their way around flavour. Photo: uckyo/Adobe Stock

9. Youtiao – China 

Youtiao is a fried doughnut stick found in street vendors across East and Southeast Asia, going by different names in each region. The breakfast staple is comprised of very simple ingredients and is crispy on the outside, airy and slightly chewy within. 

The fried dough is eaten alongside fresh soy milk or congee, a comforting and savoury rice porridge. 

Youtiao is best eaten fresh out of the fryer. Photo: wind-moon/iStock

10. Doubles – Trinidad and Tobago 

Speak to any Trinbagonian and you’ll hear just how beloved the street food “doubles” are to the nation. Fried bread, called bara, is filled with curried chickpeas (channa) and a variety of fresh, tangy condiments such as hot pepper sauce, chadon beni sauce, tamarind chutney, coconut chutney, kuchela, and grated cucumber. 

Trinidad and Tobago have strong Indian influences which can be seen in this dish, a Carribean play on the South Asian dish “chole bhature”. 

No better way to wake up than with a touch of spice. Photo: RayhaanJ/Adobe Stock

11. Chilaquiles – Mexico 

Chilaquiles takes two delicious ingredients, crispy tortilla chips and salsa, and turns it into a satisfying breakfast dish. The sauce can vary from a green “verde” to a red “rojos”, in which the corn tortilla chips are simmered until the outside just starts to soften.  

Garnished with queso fresco and Mexican crema, chilaquiles can be served as is, alongside refried beans and avocado or topped with fried eggs for a complete meal. 

The Mexicans knew what they were doing when they created chilaquiles. Photo: Shelby/Adobe Stock

12. Italy – Maritozzi 

Talk about starting the day off right. The combination of delicate, buttery brioche generously filled with perfectly sweetened whipped cream makes for a sumptuous Roman breakfast.  

Traditionally infused with honey, raisins and citrus zest or enjoyed plain, the maritozzo has evolved as an Italian pastry shop (or Pasticceria) classic. Along with pastries like sfogliatella, cornetto (brioche in the North) and biscotti, these make their way to every Italian household. 

And of course, no Italian breakfast is complete without a cappuccino. 

A trip to the local Pasticceria is all part of the Italian ‘dolce vita’. Photo: bonchan/iStock 

Featured image: Give the soggy Weet-bix a break. Photo: lunamarina/Adobe Stock  

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