Call them kurmura, murmura, muri or puffed rice – their taste is just as good. They are lightweight, they are crisp, and they can be mixed with some other ingredients to make a delicious snack that can be had anytime. They do settle the hunger pangs in between meals and yet do not spoil your appetite for the main meal. And I simply love them.
What is puffed rice
As the name indicates, puffed rice is made from rice, where the grains are expanded through high-pressure heating. In India rice is slow roasted with sand in huge iron kadais, stirring continuously. It does need a lot of patience since the heat has to be low so that the rice grains do not burn. Again as per the name, puffed rice has greater volume than regular rice but is less in calories. This means that given equal sized servings, puffed rice will have fewer calories than rice.
Vacation time snack
They come in especially handy during the vacations when the kids are home. Kids being kids are always overactive and when they are on vacation their physical activity reaches a peak resulting, but naturally, in their feeling hungry almost every two hours. And each time they want to be served something different. At such time it is easiest to rustle up a quick snack with murmura. At home, Alyona makes sure that we always have the chutneys that are such an integral part of bhel – sweet date and tamarind chutney, red chilli and garlic chutney and green chutney – kept ready in the freezer in small portions. There are boiled potatoes as well. All she has to do is thaw single portions of the chutneys, peel and chop a couple of boiled potatoes as well as cucumber and fresh coriander leaves. Just combine all these with crisp murmura and lo and behold – delicious bhel is ready at a moment’s notice. All you need to do is dish up in individual bowls and watch the children gobble up in gay abandon.
She also makes a quick and easy murmure ka chivda. Roast murmura and mix with roasted chana dal, roasted peanuts. Mix in a tadka of green chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric powder. Mix everything together, cool and store in airtight tins. It is healthy, it gets digested in no time and above all it is very tasty and to me it is a comfort food.
I can distinctly recall my childhood in Delhi where puffed rice is called kurmura. We looked forward to the month of January and Lohri when my mother used to make large quantities of kurmura phulian aur gud ke laddoo and we children would gorge on them. Winter months, as we well know, increases appetite and these were ideal to settle our hunger pangs which would appear anytime. They are so very easy to make. Just melt some grated jaggery and simmer till it thickens a little. Remove from heat, add sufficient quantities of kurmure and phulian so that all got well coated with the jaggery syrup, dampen your palms, take small quantities of the mixture and shape into laddoos when still hot. These have to be done quickly as they tend to harden very fast.
Kolkata has their own version of bhel and they call it Jhaal Muri. Muri in Bengali means murmura. This has murmura mixed with chopped onion, cucumber, tomato, green chillies, sliced fresh coconut, boiled brown chana, roasted peanuts, mustard oil and jhaal muri masala. But you should remember to serve it immediately after mixing all these aromatic ingredients. Unlike the bhel of Mumbai, this snack does not have the chutneys but nevertheless it is so awesomely tasty that you can devour a bowlful of jhaal muri in no time.
Puffed rice is ideal for the weight watchers. 1 cup of puffed rice has only 54 calories, 0.13 gram fat, 12.29 grams carbohydrates and 0.98 gram protein. There are also traces of dietary fiber and iron. Soon after eating it does give you a sense of fullness, but it digests ever so fast that within a couple of hours you are ready for the next meal.
Add a bowl full of blanched sprouts to bhel and they will not only add a delicious crunch but also plenty of proteins which are otherwise missing in murmura.