I am perfectly convinced that Jhal Muri (Savory Puffed rice) is one of those snacks that was discovered by accident, rather than by painstaking re-tries and refinements. How could a rational mind conjure that throwing some chopped veggies, peanuts, spices, sprouts on a lot of puffed rice and stirring vigorously would produce one of the tastiest snacks of West Bengal, a large state in India. Why puffed rice, you'd ask, it doesn't even have an aroma, you'd say, how can it taste good without cooking, you'd wonder - if you have never experienced Jhal Muri. In West Bengal - any kid that routinely stops at their favorite roadside stall, any office-goer that steps out for a quick afternoon snack, any housewife that wants a quick bite before heading home after grocery shopping, could tell you. Or you could just taste a spoonful and feel for yourself the light, spicy, tangy, crispy potpurri of flavors bursting into your mouth. It is a feeling of epiphany!
The term "Jhal Muri" is synonymous with its flavor - "Jhal" means spicy and "Muri" stands for "puffed rice". It is traditionally served in a paper cone, called "Thonga". Jhal Muri's ease of preparation, light and healthy nature, and great taste provides ample reasons for its popularity. Having spent my growing years in West Bengal, I naturally crave for Jhal Muri often. In my recipe, I have tried to replicate the great street taste of my childhood days, hope you enjoy sharing some of my past with me.
AUTHENTIC KOLKATA JHAL MURI RECIPE
1 tsp Lemon juice
3 tbsp finely chopped Onion
1/2 cup peeled & diced Cucumber
1/4 cup chopped Tomatoes (optional)
1/4 cup peeled, boiled & diced Potatoes (optional)
1-2 Serrano Green chillies or to taste; destemmed & finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh Cilantro (Coriander) leaves
1 tsp Chaat Masala (available in Indian Grocery Stores)
1/2 tsp Black salt or to taste
2 tsp Roasted Cumin Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper (red chilli powder) or to taste
1 tsp Mustard oil
2 tbsp sprouted Bengal gram (Black chana); optional
2 tbsp roasted, unsalted Peanuts (optional)
1 tbsp thinly sliced fresh Coconut(optional)
1/4 cup Sev (Gram flour Vermicelli); available in Indian Grocery Stores
How to make Jhal Muri
- In a broad bowl, toss in all the ingredients except salt, tomatoes, lemon juice, Mustard oil & sliced coconut. Mix well.
- Now add the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice and mustard oil. Mix again.
- Add salt as per your taste.
- Garnish with coconut.
- Serve immediately in bowls or paper cones.
- Mustard oil is a key ingredient in this dish so do not substitute this with any other oil.
- Puffed rice should be crisp for best results.
- To enjoy the crispiness of Jhal Muri, serve & consume immediately as mustard oil, lemon juice & tomatoes makes the puffed rice soggy.
- If you are calorie-conscious then skip the potatoes.
- If you prefer crisp Jhal Muri then skip Tomatoes as they make the puffed rice become soggy faster.
- Puffed Rice, Chaat masala & Sev are available at Indian Grocery stores.