Friday, December 17, 2010

Jhalmuri, Jhalmuri!

My beliefs as a pre-teen were mostly based on fantasy. I made myself believe that I could live happily ever after with a Jhalmuri wala from our neighborhood. He was young, wore a clean dhuti, skinny, and most importantly, not married. He also whisked out the best Jhalmuri in town. His hands worked magic with the ingredients on his push cart. Chopping, cutting, mixing and tossing an array of items in a steel can, sizzling it all up with lavish drops of mustard oil and finishing off each serving with finely chopped fresh coriander. Perfection was his persona. And I was in awe.
One day I told my Mother about my infatuation.  I was all about 13, and learnt the word “entrepreneur” in English class. I realized it perfectly fit the description of my street-food crush.

Mother was slow to react to my precociously coherent longing of an entrepreneur jamai for her. Then one day she freaked out when she realized that I had given two measly pieces of sondesh to my crush. Things were escalated to my Father, who said he had lost all hope in me. He also feared I would elope with that fellow. That day I saw a look of dejected sadness on his face. With her cold, stony silence, even my little sister made me realize I was the family pariah and had no business either eating or longing for “junk”. Let alone marry one. My Dida said all this was bad for my health!

Today, I am happily married to a man who is neither an entrepreneur nor a jhalmuri wala. But loves this Calcutta street food with as much passion as I do. Much of our long-distance courtship was spent in talking about whether I knew how to make Jhalmuri, and if I could do it in Canada for my deprived fiancé.

IMG_3657 Bengali cuisine is never complete without talking about Jhalmuri. Puffed rice has never been treated with so much respect and reverence, as it is in this anytime snack which has its origins in the streets of Bengal.

Mere handfuls of puffed rice (muri) is transformed into a perky bowl of intense flavors, often rapaciously devoured by anyone who can stomach some heat, some sour, some crunch and some raw shorshe tel (mustard oil).

IMG_3664Ingredients for Jhalmuri are:

2-3 handfuls of puffed rice/ muri
2-3 handfuls of Chanachur/ jhal dalmut as per your preference (make sure it has peanuts)
1-2 tablespoons roasted gram
1-2 tablespoons boiled red gram/ lal chola
1 medium boiled potato, peeled, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, very finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons cucumber, finely chopped
3-4 green chilies, finely chopped (do not add if you are making for kids)
1-2 tablespoons coconut, finely chopped (I did not have it at home, and did not add in this recipe)
Handful of finely chopped fresh coriander
Lemon juice
Drizzle of mustard oil
Pinch of red chili powder
1 teaspoon bhaja moshla
Half teaspoon chaat masala
Black salt

IMG_3649 Keep your Jhalmuri station ready to avoid any last minute missing ingredients. I like to make little portions for individual persons based on their heat and spice quotients. The rule to Jhalmuri is to mix in the wet/raw ingredients in the end to prevent the muri from getting soggy and limp.

(If you are using muri which has been lying in your kitchen for some time and is not as crunchy as you’d like it to be, throw some in a bowl and microwave for under a minute to get its texture back.)

IMG_3653IMG_3654 Okay, so now mix together the chanachur and muri along with the roasted gram and give it a toss. Add the spices and mix well. Check the seasoning, if your chanachur is quite salty already, go easy on the black salt.

IMG_3655 IMG_3656Toss in the chopped onion, cucumber, boiled potato, red gram, green chilies, fresh coriander and few drops of mustard oil and lemon juice. Give it a good mix and serve immediately in paper cones or bowls. A cup of hot chai is most often enjoyed with this Jhalmuri. Make sure you share this with your friends, it just doubles up the whole experience.



Sayantani said...

ami abosyo ice cream wala ke biye korbo thik korechilam...even amader tin bondhu mile ice cream, jhalmuri ar fuchka wala ke biye korbo thik korechilam jate sabsamay egulo khete pai.
darun baniecho...jodi santini jao kakhano train e jeo. okhankar jhalmuri ar lebu cha jagot bikhyato.

Satrupa said...

Pree ..... Can't stop laughing. U n ur entrepreneur Crush
The jhal muri looks gr8. The thing I loved about traveling by train in India is getting to eat all these stuff.

Lovely Write up once again ....

What is that written on the tea cup in bengali ?

Anpu said...

Lovely post Pree...actually have it often as lunch...:-) My cousin and I add lots of sprouts and baby spinach and finely grated this makes it so yummy,healthy and we get teh greens too...:-)))

GB said...

Oh yummm! You're making my mouth water!

So I can make out the first (hazard a guess, actually)word--"jhamudi" what's the next one? Love your jhalmudi station....

PreeOccupied said...

Just an FYI - the text on the chai cup is Jhalmuri Khabe? Meaning Do you want to have Jhalmuri?

Priya said...

Woww feel like having some..irresistible..

Anpu said...

Pree - just made some...and having it with Adrakwali Chai...:-)

Sanchita said...

Nice post Pree :) I absolutely love the mug. Did you made it yourself? I love jhalmuri, thank you so much for this post I remember last time I went to West Bengal I took a photo of a jhalmuriwala's jhuri, and since then I never made it at home ..but now I will. Thank you :)

Cham said...

Another witty post, the chai cup and snack are well clicked, I never made at home!

TheKeyBunch said...

Hehe the story of your first crush had me in splits!:) see, u managed very well without having to marry the jhalmuri wallah!:)


kannaji e said...

Thanks pree..for ur appreciation on my "green ideas"blog...please do visit my blog "my he'art'beats nd strokes" on
..and ur photo graphical presentation is very good..
and just i wanna kno that waht is the meaning of pree? just for my knoledge

Sayantani said...

ei cup ta tumi baniecho?

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Pree
Very nice posting I enjoyed reading it...please do write more in your style.
Bhalo theko

PreeOccupied said...

Thank you all for liking this soul of Bengal. Just the thought of Jhalmuri makes my mouth water, every time.

@Sayantani, nooooooo. I did not make that cup. I bought it from a coffee shop called Second Cup. I liked it 'coz the colors go with the colors of my Blog/Logo and that I can also write on it with a chalk. :-)

purplehomes said...

loved your post & how you have talked about jhalmuri. A big fav with me...but my bong DH & in laws don't like it! So they can't understand everytime I get excited seeing a jhalmuri wala whenever I visit them :)

The mug is too cute!

aipi said...

I can have this for lunch, dinner n anytime in

US Masala

rama said...

It was really good to read through this particular blog of yours.
Jalmuri is my favorite too, and it is so easy to make too. My husband is pretty good in making instant jalmuri, though he has never lived in Calcutta, but when we were in Calcutta for a few days I introduced him to Jalmuri, and from that time he knows exactly how it should taste.
We always have a bottle of Sarso ka tel in our house,so that is also not a problem.
I remember how I used to eat , Jalmuri, puchkas, choormur, and googni,in my college days in Calcutta. Those were the real fun days, how i miss them!
Though I am a pukka Tamilian, I am a good cook and cook all kinds of vegetarian dishes from all states.
Enjoyed your pictures of Jalmuri very much. Thanks for sharing them and also the recipe.

Sound Horn Please said...

Pree- Where did you get that Chalkboard mug from? I want!! I saw an Indian blogger have one too, but she said she got it from B'lore. How do I get hold of one here in NA?

PreeOccupied said...

@Rama, thank you for visiting and sharing your street food memories from Calcutta. I have never lived in Calcutta (longest stay was a week!) and long to experience all that in person.

If you ever run out of mustard oil at home, the best thing to add is the slick oil from one of the pickle bottles. It works wonders.

@Divya, its from Second Cup. Its Canadian, so you will have to come up north to get it. :-)