Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Snacks: Masala Pori (Spicy Puffed-Rice)
There is a humble snack that is prepared at homes, or is sold in many parts of India, with slight variations in taste. It is nothing but pori (puffed rice/murmura/kurmura) dressed up in different, usually spicy, ways. The pori whose recipe I've written below is typical to parts of Tamilnadu, makes a nice filler snack, is fairly healthy, and if you add a handful of peanuts, sesame seeds, and pottukkadalai (puffed channa dal), it is even better nutritionally, and taste-wise. Most importantly, the taste takes me and my family to early evenings when pori and peanut vendors used to come ringing their presence in push-carts and ladle the hot snack in newspaper cones for as little as 10 paisa, and for as much as 1 rupee. Upon its departure from the threshold of the house, the cart, with its tiny petromax lantern, would leave a trail of smoke from the snacks and the lantern, and the faint tapping and ringing of the iron ladle on the iron kadai/wok could be heard for a long time. We would sit around in the verandah or balcony of the house or on the footsteps, watching people, catching up, teasing each other, and sharing in the crunchy, spicy, delicacy.
Here is a simple way to prepare this snack. Go get together with your family or friends, get yourself a bowl of this, and watch time fly. The masala pori can be prepared in large quantities and stored in an airtight jar. I used the microwave to make this, but you can use a kadai/wok.
3 large cloves of garlic or 1/2 tsp powdered asafoetida (hing/perungayam)
1 tsp salt
1/2 sprig curry leaves
1-2 tsp red chilli powder ( you may use whole red chillies or red chilli flakes and grind them)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp. coconut oil (you may use vegetable oil at some obvious loss of flavor)
4 C or 1 litre plain puffed rice (muttaippori). Do NOT use the rice crispies cereal
1/2 C raw peanuts (with skin) and/or,
1/4 C pottukkadalai (channa dalia or puffed channa dal) and/or,
1 Tbsp black/white/brown sesame seeds
1. Dry roast separately: the peanuts; the sesame seeds.
If using a kadai/wok, simply heat the kadai and add the peanuts and keep stirring it on medium heat until it is fragrant and the color has changed to indicate that it is roasted. Keep aside on a plate to cool. Do the same for sesame seeds. They'll burst and crackle softly when they are done. Keep aside to cool.
If using the microwave, spread the peanuts on a microwave safe plate in a single layer. Microwave on high for 2.5 to 3 minutes, stirring twice in between. Repeat for sesame seeds. Keep aside to cool.
2. In the small mixie/blender jar or using a mortar and pestle as in the picture, grind the following to a paste without adding any water: the peeled garlic (or asafoetida/hing), curry leaves, red chilli powder, turmeric, salt.
3. In a large microwave-safe bowl, mix the puffed rice with the cooled peanuts, sesame seeds, and pottukkadalai.
4. Mix the semi-dry paste with the coconut oil well; using your fingers, mix this thoroughly with the puffed rice blend ensuring that not a single grain of rice remains unspiced/untouched by the spice-oil mixture. [If you are scared of dealing with chilli powder on bare fingers, you may wear those transparent plastic food-service gloves prior to doing this].
5. Microwave this on high, uncovered, for a minute or two, and when done, spread it out so that it doesn't sweat and make itself soggy. If using a kadai, heat the kadai, and simply add the mixture to this. Stir with a large spoon for a minute or two.
Serve right away when still warm. May also be served cold. Great monsoon season snack with a cup of hot chai.
To store: Cool the mixture thoroughly on a shallow tray or plate and store the cooled mixture in an air-tight container. Serve as is, or microwave each serving for a few seconds.