Pori or puffed rice is a snack that I can rarely resist at any time of the year. Thick walled glass bottles filled to the brim with puffed rice flakes tempered with delicious spices was a permanent occupant of our pantry shelves all through childhood. A few months ago my sister in law’s aunt came across an unusual ingredient at her local super market. The label said ‘“puffed wheat” . She bought a packet just to see what it would taste like. It turned out to be so delicious that she just had to share her discovery with the rest of the family. That’s how I got the chance to taste it !
The pieces of puffed wheat are much larger than that of the rice. Not only does it add a great deal more texture but is also a lot crunchier. While I love my rice pori snack , I enjoyed eating this godhumai pori simply because the taste was familiar and yet so different. I was tempted to make it at home and share this simple home-made treat with friends. The recipe I stuck to was the traditional one which made use of cold pressed coconut oil , turmeric powder and other uniquely South Indian ‘pori’ flavourings. Into the slightly warmed coconut oil , went in a smattering of mustard seeds , curry leaves , crushed garlic pods , a few sun-browned morru molagais and a generous helping of pottu kadalai. The mouth does start to water as one waits for the garlic to get all burnished and sticky in the hot oil , that’s one of the high points of eating pori ! The buttermilk soaked and sun dried chillies crisp up and get all crumbly after being fried in the hot oil. The crispy skin and seeds impart a salty heat that coats the rest of the ingredients. It’s for this reason that we use very little salt for seasoning. Once all these ingredients are properly tempered,it’s time to add a sprinkling of turmeric powder . I love the way the puffed flakes get evenly stained to a mouth-watering yellow colour that also serves to highlight the rest of the ingredients. The green of the crisp curry leaves looks so fetching that I cannot help but add one bright red chilli to finish the look. In go the unusually shaped puffed wheat kernels, right at the end. The flame is turned off at this point .The heat emanating from the pan is more than enough to ensure that the spices stick to the puffed wheat . It needs to be tossed several times to and fro in the deep pan so that it gets coated evenly. At this stage the mixture is a bit soft and chewy when hot. As it cools in the pan it develops that irresistible crunch !
As always when trying something new I’m as excited as a puppy with a new toy and can’t wait to share my dish. Every person who tasted it that day , loved it as much as I did. When I asked around , not many had heard of or tasted this particular puffed cereal. Curious to know more , I headed to the place where it was sold. Premier Max Supermarket at Kalapatti are the retailers for this puffed wheat snack. The owner Mr.Krishnamoorthy says he came across this product while visiting Jeyam Traders , a local wholesale distributor. He says a lot of people have dietary restrictions when it comes to rice. That’s what prompted him to stock this at his store. Amrish at Jeyam Traders also believe in sourcing snacks that are nutritious. This puffed wheat comes from Sangli in Maharashtra where the wheat is boiled , the outer husk removed and then puffed. It is in no way refined or polished at any stage. Apparently it’s fairly common in the North of India and he suggests tempering it with some garam masala to make it more yummy.
The lack of uniformity in shape of this godhumai pori makes it visually appealing as well. It can also be mixed with jaggery syrup or molasses to make a sweeter version. It may not be as easy to roll as the pori urandai but it can be flattened on a slightly greased dish and cut into squares when cooled.
In the era of instant snacks and pre-packaged food ,a natural ingredient like this is great for those seeking alternate solutions to meet their specific diet requirements. The one thing we Indians have in common for sure is an affinity for the ‘crunch n munch’ !
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