Sunday, March 11, 2007

jhaal(hot) muri-the iconic snack food of bengal




just like bhel is to mumbai, so is jhaal muri to kolkata. i cannot imagine returning to mumbai from kolkata without having jhaal muri. it is 'de rigouer' in my office. as a snack in the evening when you need something sharp and spicy and tangy to keep you going for a couple of hours more.

jhaal muri is puffed rice mixed with sliced onions,cucumbers,tomatoes,and boiled potatoes,peanuts,green chillies and shaken up with mustard oil. and topped with sweetened tamarind chutney.(when you heat sand in a pot and then add grains of rice you get puffed rice).you will find muriwallas all over the city dishing out muri to their clients in paper cones. i have been having jhaal muri from childhood in my kolkata days and miss the daily dose in mumbai. bhel is a desirable option no doubt. it is not that i love bhel less but that i love jhaal muri more.

read jhumpa lahiri's first page in "the namesake" and you will get the recipe. "combining rice Krispies and Planters peanuts and chopped red onion in a bowl.add salt,lemon juice,thin slices of green chilli pepper and( wishing there were) mustard oil to pour into the mix". mira nair was amused when while watching the release of "the namesake" and the scene where pregnant, ashima who craves for jhaal muri is preparing it in her boston kitchen she overheard a gujerati senior citizen telling his wife "chevda banaave che".

you may be a mamma's boy but this is one area where you have to admit that the muriwallah beats her hands down.try as she might,mamma just cannot come up to the muriwala's magic. you will be licking your fingers and enjoying the savoury bites till you reach home.

6 comments:

Lotus Reads said...

What a great post, gs and I am so glad you reminded me of the recipe in "The Namesake". Believe it or not, when I read the book around 3 years ago, I was in a train , but the snack sounded so tempting that I hunted for a pen and paper to copy the recipe,lol! I have yet to make it though. I am told the Bangladeshi shops here sell nice mustard oil, will pick up some the next time I'm in Mississauga.

Loved the pictures, too. Thanks!

gs said...

hi lr
i miss my daily muri in mumbai and wish there were muriwallahs too here.you must try it out and see whether you can work the magic with your hands.

Soumitra Velkar said...

I had the jhal muri thing last week on my 1st visit to Kolkata and very honestly came back feeling a litlle disappointed. May I get away saying that it's way too over hyped??

It was spicy n tangy and all that but I so prefer Bhel Puri... I think its over hyped and as eco friendly as those rectangular paper bags may be, they sure are inconvenient to eat in as compared to the conical mumbai 'pudi'...The bhel also has a lot more flavors combined though your mudi may be a few notches up in terms of texture.

Soumitra Velkar said...

I had the jhal muri thing last week on my 1st visit to Kolkata and very honestly came back feeling a litlle disappointed. May I get away saying that it's way too over hyped??

It was spicy n tangy and all that but I so prefer Bhel Puri... I think its over hyped and as eco friendly as those rectangular paper bags may be, they sure are inconvenient to eat in as compared to the conical mumbai 'pudi'...The bhel also has a lot more flavors combined though your mudi may be a few notches up in terms of texture.

gs said...

hello soumitra
there are jhal muris and jhal muris.what is important is whether it was prepared the way it ought to be.and also it is a bit of a cultivated taste.i love bhelpuri too; but if two plates are placed before me,one of bhel and the other of muri,no marks for guessing which i will pickup.

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