Munch. Munch and talk. Munch and walk in the maidan. Munch and see the world pass by. Munch and romance. Munch and ramble down the riverside. Munch and **rok'er adda (the bengalee-group discussion about anything from leonardo - da vinci / bernstien / di caprio - we bengalees know it all). The meet-and-greet munch.
**rok - rock = any place to rest the derrière on the pavement - be it steps / buttrest at the entrance of any house / leaning-on-the-lamp-post or whatever.
Jhaal Muri epitomises the 'go' snack - either physical and/or verbal. Nah, it's not a snack that'll alleviate your senses nor tantalise them tastebuds. It's a feel-good. A well-being. All's-right-with-the-world kinda sensory. It's the munch of a fleeting moment.
Thyyamdancer shooting the Jhaal Muriwallah
The Must-Have's when making Jhaal Muri
These are must have's in my opinion.
- Puffed rice - it's the base.
- Peanuts - roasted
- Onions - raw red onions cut small
- Coconut - small pieces
- Potatoes - boiled and cut into tiny pieces
- Dried yellow peas - soaked overnight and boiled (a tough find, few vendors have it)
- Green chilly - cut into tiny pieces
All the above is put into a mog (usually aluminium, resembling a huge mug)
To that is added a splash of mustard oil, dash of salt, dash of the masala-mix (gawdknows what magic ingredients that is made of) and a squeeze of lime. Garnished with cilantro - a lil bit more of the coconut (on request) and bhujia (tiny crispy flavoured 'sticks' of fried gram flour).
Avoid this when preparing Jhaal Muri
- Tamarind juice - some vendors only have this and not lime. This makes the puffed rice soggy - taking out the crunch in the munch. It's a positive NO.
- Tomato and/or Cucumber - this again makes the puffed rice soggy. Besides, this ain't a salad.
- Thin creamish puffed rice - these are good for Bhel Puri. For Jhaal Muri it's gotta be white and puffy - the puffier, the better the crunch.
- Chanachur - this is the much spicier Bengali version of the 'Bombay Mix'. It's a savoury mix of fried lentils, peanuts, chickpea flour noodles, flaked rice. Having a strong flavour, it more often than not, cut's out any other flavour in the Muri.
- Being served in a cone made from paper. The finished product must come in a thonga (packet made from newspaper). It's easier to pour the Jhaal Muri out.
Please do not eat with finger tips - all the flavours and the crunch will never come together. It's not a nibble. You gotta munch.
Pour a mouthful in the palm, then plunk it into your mouth. This aint about table manners.
Here's how ...
Tell the vendor before he begins the preparation - no chilli, lil salt, not this, not that. Give him instructions. Don't feel shy.
Jhaal Muri is the Bengali variant of the Bhel Puri. Jhaal = spicy. Muri = puffed rice.
With the first plonk-in-the-mouth - you get the tangy taste of the 'magic' masala and a hint of lime juice. If you're not used to raw mustard oil - I'm sure the pungent smell of the oil will come through too.
With the first bite you'll encounter, maybe the crunch of the coconut, maybe the soft potato, maybe roasted peanut and/or the dried green pea.
You never know what you're going to encounter with each bite. Each bite is different. It's a surprise. A revelation.
This is one snack which don't feed you to your gullet. Which is why, with the last handful - one wishes for a repeat order. By then, you've gone way past the Jhaal Muriwallah. Oh well...
Jhaal Muri always keeps you wanting more.
It's the munch of a fleeting moment - you wish, would never end.
Where to get Jhaal Muri
Jhaal Muri vendors too have their 'constant' spot. One finds more of them in the office para's (neighbourhoods). Muri is had between breakfast and lunch. Definitely with your cuppa chai in the evening. Or whilst leaving work - on the way to catch a bus or train.
As with the Phuchkawallahs - you'll see them too in the parks/maidan, street corner, or wherever there is a bunch of street-food vendors.
In trains, whether travelling in Bengal - or whether the train is coming into Bengal. They're in the train. Not the best Jhaal Muri. Travelling from Chennai, and the gawdawful inevitable stop at Satragachi - one just gives in. Haven't had the stuff for more than a week - anything'll do!!
I have two till-death-do-us-apart vendors in the city.
The first is the man who sits on the pavement outside Vardan Market in Camac Street. Probably from either Bihar or UP - he's on the spot by 11am everyday. He has this HUGE bag of Muri - next to all the other ingredients. Nope, he don't have no chanachur or tomato nor cucumber or tamarind juice. He squeezes one full half-lime into the mixture. His seasonings are just-so. It's perfect. The man is a genious. He is well well aware of flavours. He is a tad more expensive than the rest - but heck, he sure is worth every bit of the extra INR 5.
The other is a Bengali. His spot - Triangular Park, south Kolkata. He sells Muri only in the evenings, for extra income. He has some other job in the morning. His wares are kept on a wicker stand - the Muri kept in a big square tin. He is the only man who I've discovered has the boiled dried yellow peas. Haven't come across too many vendors who have that. Wonder if he's still there - probably not.
Next time you're in Kolkata - either rambling or on the go - do yourself a favour. Have some Jhaal Muri. Munch. The world, for just that moment - will seem a better place.
I'd like to dedicate the Jhaal Muri article to the 'good' Captain Mahajan! It was/is his favourite Bengali 'treat'. Wonder… how jhaal was his muri?
Latest comments for Jhaal Muri and Street Food in Kolkata
am truly humbled. thank you and you and you.
street food is very, bhery close to my heart - and it truly gives me great pleasure
to be able to 'express' myself - and to IM for giving me the opportunity to do so.
there is no resemblance between the Jhaal Muri and Bhel Puri.
we have both in Kolkata
... as there're very lil similarity between the Phuchka, Golgappa and Pani Puri.
arre baba - instead of concentrating on the differences and which is better -
think of the innumerable permutations and combinations that make each one of them so different.
this land has 4 common spices, whichever the region - chilli / turmeric / coriander / cummin powder/s.
marvel at the incredible plethora of dishes - which are so different from another - going from one region to another.
it's INCREDIBLE !!
dunno how much they cost nowadays - on the ferry, it'd be cheaper.
but, 6+ years ago - the guy outside vardaan market, camac street took, i think - Rs25.
he is a bit more expensive than the others. location. location.
as for not having to google - yea right, boibhob, i believe you... kinda
... and how differently each household prepared the muri... depending on the region one came from. positively fascinating
at home - kaalo jeera [black nigella seeds ?] and dried red chillies was roasted with the muri in mustard oil.
served with thinly sliced raw red onions.
it was the snack to have when in 'adda', golposholpo [story telling, kinda] in rainy days, watching a cricket match - and invariably, whilst playing ludo
we called it - muri bhaja [fried muri].
thank you for them reminisces - onek onek thank you [lots]
" I have a sad story to share about Jhal-Muri.
When I was a young-un in Khulna, there was this really enterprising bengali muri-wallah.
He used to sell awesome jhal-muri at the Circuit House maidan with a great show.
He would mix the muri in his aluminum glass with a dance that was part "Proloy nachon nachle jakhon" and part "Pinakete lage Tankar" and would yell out sonorously "Ma-Sa-L-LA muri".
We the audience would bow our head, thank God, and say Masha-Allah, Masha-Allah.
I mean the muri was really "shaken, not stirred" and the dance was better than any Sufi dervish doing the whirly.
Now sometime later, one of those General Khans (Ayub, Yahya, whatever) declared Martial Law in Pakistan, and these dumb ignoramous West Pakistani soldiers grabbed him one day and put him to jail.
His offense - he was ridiculing Martial Law by saying Ma-Sa-L-La muri.
By the way, since I grew up studying Physics, I have to point out that you missed a great Leonardo in your list. It is the son of Bonacci - Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa, after whom the Fibonacci series is named although the series was known to Indian mathematician before him.
To his credit, in his book he advocated strongly modus Indorum (Indian method), numeration with the digits 0–9 and place value. The western world was freed from the ridiculous Roman numerals.
Finally, to tell you truly, I thought your jhal-muri writing lacked a little spice, the masala of your language, the at-your-face up-front diction that you use. Is jhal-muri not so sallivating to you as the other items you wrote about? "
basu da, the commentator of above and I continue our golposholpo over mails.
fascinating tales of long ago's - reminds me of listening to your stories, Jyotida
Please, please do post some more narratives and reminisces, it's what makes the 'food' so, so memorable.
I think one does not drool over the way the jhal muri is being prepared, one simply looks at it in a matter of fact way, but one certainly drools over the preparation of the roll and the phuchka. Its the preparation that draws the saliva.
- Join Date:
- Oct 2013
I was raised in an English household that was so traditional in its ways and cooking. My mother would have had a fit if any foodstuff with the remotest suggestion of flavour was brought into the house.
Jhaal Muri would have gone straight into the bin, along with the peelings from the potatoes (to be served boiled and plain) and carrots (sliced, then boiled for the same time as the potatoes, at least 30 mins, until all the vitamins had gone into the water, that was then poured down the sink).
I didn't discover garlic until I was 15. It was something foreign, obviously to be viewed with suspicion.
Have just cooked some spiced lentils for this evening's dinner. I live in France, but that doesn't put me off. An unauthentic spice mixture perhaps, but then I have the handicap of being an English whitie and therefore blessed with a natural inability to make anything taste nice.
Just a caution about - just how much spice your tummy can handle, harvestmouse
Each state in India has their own speciality - absolutely different from all other states.
NomadicBoo just tried out a few in Kolkata. You can read about them here.
Depending where you're headed - IM'ers can give you suggestions about the eats in that region.
Bon appetit !
I have heard that a typical Andhra person (hope this is the political correct thing to say these days) is really satisfied with his meal when he gets beads of sweat under his eyes, because of the heavy dose of spices. I do not know about the truth of this , but what I can assure you is that you do get those beads of sweat, and I speak from experience. The taste of the Andhra food is great, especially the non veg stuff, but as they say, forewarned is forearmed !
- Join Date:
- Oct 2013
The only food that literally brought tears to my eyes was golgappa (spelling??). There were moments when I just wanted to eat something without any spices. Hurrah for porridge in the morning! It can be nice when food makes you sweat a little, but not when there is so much chilli that you can't taste anything else.
- Join Date:
- Oct 2013
Could Rice Krispies cereal be used as a last resort?
For some reason there are almost no Indian shops in France. Loads in England, but I don't live there any more. Don't miss the country, but do miss the huge amounts of curry available everywhere.
Ideas for rice??