Puffed rice and it's non Indian origins

Modern story of Puffed rice says that in 1901, a botanist named Alexander Pierce Anderson created puffed rice while experimenting with starch crystals in his laboratory.  His invention was known as food shot from guns at that time.

While experimenting he heated starch grain (Rice) that was sealed in a glass tube until they showed signs of browning.  He suspected that a reaction within the starch would occur if he broke the tube and set the steam free.

Therefore, Alexander smashed the glass and the resulting explosion produced a stick of pure puffed starch i.e. puffed rice.

History of Indian puffed Rice

Further examination with Indian puffed rice  history reveals that puffed rice is known as Murmura in Hindi and many of the Gujarati words has its origin in Hindi, Murmura is called Mamra in Gujarati. Flattened rice is called Pruthak in Sanskrit whereas Puffed or Popped rice is called Laja in Sanskrit.

At that time people used to consume this Indian  puffed rice with honey and it was called Madhulaja.

Puffed rice is used in marriage ceremony in Southern India during Gruhsutra ceremony wherein Laja (Puffed rice) is offered to Agni and known as Lajahoma. This Lajahoma was also performed during the marriage of Shiva & Parvati as noted by Kalidasa.

Therefore, it can be believed that Puffed Rice was known to Indian Culture since ancient times.

puffed rice history

Puffed rice today

The most common sight today would be Bhel puri - is a savoury snack originating from the Indian subcontinent, and is also a type of chaat. It is made of puffed rice, vegetables and a tangy tamarind sauce. Source :Wikipedia. In Mumbai it's Tangy spicy and the spicy version originates out of Kolkatta with Mustard oil & Chaana Chur a farsaan snack.  Jhaal means spices and muri is puffed rice. This snack had achieved legend status in it's respective cities & being from Mumbai, I have got along Bhel & Jhaal Muri being a Bengali by caste, they from my school college days and even a good share of today's junk food. Muri is the essential fixture in a Bengali; home. I grew up with it, they have reached home in huge plastic sacks all the way from West Bengal and Gitanjali Express to Bombay VT. 

Puffed rice & West Bengal

Muri is an everyday food not just in our household but in millions of households in India. The large square “muri’r tin” (a recycled air-tight metal container used to keep the puffed rice fresh and crisp) is rarely empty in our household. Muri is often served for breakfast with “aloo chorchori” (a potato curry with nigella seeds); or as an evening snack tossed in mustard oil accompanied by roasted peanuts, small diced cucumbers, red onions, fresh coconut, ginger and hot green chilies  (or served plain when heartburn threatens). “Jhal muri “, or spiced puffed rice with salad, served in a “kagocher thongha” (paper bag made of recycled newspaper), is a national favorite and a street experience often tried but seldom replicated at home.

Thanks Debanjali  this excerpt

 

Puffed Rice in Tibet

In Tibet they make puffed barley, in sand, the same way. Of course at altitude it takes more time to get the moisture in the grain hot enough to generate enough steam to pop it.

Preparation of Puffed Rice

Freshly harvested rice, dried in its husk until completely free of moisture. Then a wide mouthed clay pot half full of sand is heated and when the sand is really hot the un-hulled rice grains are dropped in. With the heat they pop out of their husk and puff up. Before they can burst out of the pot, they are lifted out with a perforated spoon that allows the sand and husk to skip through and neatly separates the puffed rice. Puffed rice looks like small white translucent popcorn. It is light papery and very fragile.

Puffed rice is made in sand just like popcorn is roasted in most parts using earthen pots, though here is an alternative unhealthy recipe.

 

Ingredients of puffed rice:

  • Oil – 2 cups
  • 1 bowl rice
  • Sugar – for sprinkling

Recipe of Puffed rice:

  1. Cook around 1 bowl of rice.
  2. Dry the rice by keeping them in a tray and use it after sometime when it is dried.
  3. Next add oil in a pan and its temperature should be hot.
  4. Afterwards add the dried rice into boiling oil by putting a sieve in the oil and shake for about 30 seconds. You will see the rice will start getting puffed soon.
  5. Pull up the sieve and drain the remaining oil and afterwards keep the rice in a separate plate.
  6. Similarly repeat it by adding more rice to the oil within a sieve.
  7. After you have put the rice on a separate plate, sprinkle some sugar on top it. Sprinkling the sugar still when the rice is warm is better.
  8. All the rice has to be then added to the sieve again and cooked again for about 30 seconds. Puffed rice are ready and you can come to know this by checking its crispiness.