Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which keeps us healthy and sharp. But foods eaten for breakfast vary wildly from place to place. Kuwait Times spoke with several people of diverse nationalities to learn more about the traditional breakfast here and from other places.
Kuwait has a variety of traditional breakfast items. Balaleet, a sweet vermicelli pasta served with a fried egg is a very popular dish. In older times, bajila (jumbo beans) and nekhi (chick peas) were local favorites. They were typically eaten with fresh Iranian bread. A modern Kuwaiti breakfast may include unsalted white cheese, watermelon jam, Iranian bread, chives and tea with milk.
In other cultures, eggs and beans are common as well as rice. Ayat Nour Al-Dine told Kuwait Times that in Lebanon, the most famous breakfast dish is soda (liver) and raw meat. The Lebanese breakfast has a lot of variety, such as mankousheh, kishik, etc.
For Rana Mzanra, a traditional Syrian breakfast will always include foul, hummus, fattah and cheese in olive oil. But if she is going to have breakfast in the Halabi (Aleppo) way, mamounia will be the main dish. “It is a wonderful Syrian dessert that comes from the city of Aleppo. Mamounia is a smooth and velvety semolina pudding that is usually topped with cinnamon and nuts and is served with shaabyat (warbat) or cheese and pita bread,” she said.
The Egyptian breakfast is a popular one in the Middle East, with foul medames made from fava beans, chickpeas, garlic and lemon, topped with olive oil, cayenne and tahini sauce and served with falafel. Sherehan Yousef told Kuwait Times that this is not the only Egyptian breakfast item. Egyptians also crave pastrami (cured dried spiced beef) with scrambled eggs. If you love something sweet, you can have black honey with tahini.
Aniket Nimje said breakfast items in India vary by region, but you’ll often find paratha (Indian bread) with chutneys and dips. “There is a simple breakfast or snack item, which is often served with banana, called puttu. This is one of the main breakfast items in Kerala, and it is also served with kadala (chickpea) or chicken curries,” he said.
In the Philippines, people love having sinangag (fried rice) for breakfast. “For keeping your energy levels up, rice is the top choice, served with sausages, known as longganisa. We fry the rice with salt and garlic. The sinangag is then combined with egg, meat and beans,” John de la Cruz told Kuwait Times. He added that sometimes the simplest breakfast can be pandesal (bread) with butter or cheese.
For Iraqis, it is all about fat. Zainab Al-Abaiji said Iraqis love to add extra oil and samen (fat) to their food to make it tasty. “We have a traditional bean dish of Maltese origins called bigilla bil dehen. It is popular both as a breakfast dish and snack. The main ingredient of bigilla is a special type of broad bean called “ful ta girba”. The beans are soaked overnight and mixed with olive oil and other ingredients to form a paste or dip,” she explained. Abaiji added that bigilla is usually served with bread. Iraqis have two kinds of bread for breakfast – flatbread known as “khubz arouk” and an oval-shaped loaf of bread called “samoon hajari”.
Ghalia Amer explained that in Saudi Arabia, a sandwich called “samoonet saba” has all kinds of breakfast items – cheese, falafel, tomato, potato, etc. “We also have Saudi bread called khubz tameez, which is served with lentils and smooth mashed beans,” she added.
Americans are known for their bacon (only beef bacon in Kuwait, of course), pancakes and eggs. But this is slowly changing and muesli, granola and oatmeal are making a resurgence to challenge more unhealthy foods.
In the UK, a full English breakfast will likely include a fried egg, sausage, pudding, mushrooms, baked beans, potatoes and tomato.
Thankfully in Kuwait nowadays almost all of these breakfasts can be found in a budding community of breakfast-only or breakfast focused restaurants and cafes catering to the early morning crowd.
By Faten Omar