Madhumita tells us about Masala Muri or Jhaal Muri, a popular Indian snack, also known as Churmura or Bhelpuri, that unites the country. A large bowl of Jhaal Muri is a must for adda, no matter which time of the year it is.
India is a country of diversity with multiple languages and culture, culinary and gastronomic varieties. It prides on the thread of unity that runs through the rubric of diversity. And among the many common likes and features that unite all Indians is the Masala Muri or Jhaal Muri as is also the Phuchka or Gol Gappa.
Phuchka or Golgappa, though have recently entered the Indian kitchen, it is essentially street food. Though packets of readymade crisp little phulkas, the round wafer-thin balls made of ground lentil batter, are readily available in the market, making the potato filling, with an
assortment of ingredients added that would go into the balls, the top broken with a little tap and press of the thumb to stuff a little of the filling in, and readying a jug full of the tangy sour and hot tamarind water that the filled up balls would be dipped into, are laborious. I am an ardent and enthusiastic fan of the phuchka and have been since the school days.
Yet I would rather not go through the lengthy process of making the delicious snack that would disappear in seconds, into mouths gathered around the dining table. I would rather go, and have all others go, to the roadside phuchka stall and have a good fill, tummy and soul content.
The Jhaal Muri or Masala Muri is comparatively easier to prepare in a jiffy. Puffed rice mixed with diced onions and chopped green chillies (the real connoisseur prefers a generous amount), a good amount of Bombay Mix and a few drops of mustard oil. Chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, little pieces of
boiled potato are also added at times, according to individual preference, with a seasoning of lemon juice or tamarind. And a most divine snack is prepared in minutes.
No Bengali adda, a gathering of friends in the late afternoon or early evening is complete without big bowls of Jhaal Muri. And it is more loved if it is accompanied with telebhaja, an assortment of vegetables fried, thin slices dipped in a batter of gram flour. On lazy summer evenings, on rain-drenched afternoons or on shawl-wrapped shivering winter days, this snack is welcome in Indian homes.
The Masala Muri or Jhaal Muri is a great leveler. For the people in the four corners of our land, the rich and the poor, puffed rice mixed with all the ingredients is loved by all. It is called Churmura, in UP and Bihar and Bhelpuri, in Mumbai. There are minor differences how it is prepared, elsewhere. It might be the only snack for the poor. It might be an enjoyment for the affluent. But it is the only snack that is found in all Indian homes at some time or the other.
Pix from Net