Many nations eat some sort of puffed rice. In the West, it is generally used for breakfast cereal, to be eaten with milk and sugar. In India, it is eaten in hundreds of different ways, some sweet but most others savory and spicy.

    The recipe here is for a crunchy, nutty nibble, perfect with drinks. If I invite friends to watch television or a film at home, I hand them a drink and a homemade paper cone filled with this spicy murmura. That is the name for it in Delhi, and I find that most Indian stores in the West sell it by that name as well. Just ask for puffed rice or murmura, and the grocer will get what you want.

    This recipe cooks in 5 minutes or less, so have everything assembled before you start.


    • 3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
    • Generous pinch of ground asafetida
    • ½ teaspoon whole brown mustard seeds
    • 1–2 fresh hot green chilies, cut into fine rings
    • 6–7 fresh curry leaves, or Thai basil or small basil leaves, lightly crushed in your hand
    • ¼ cup raw cashews (this is a good opportunity to buy cashew halves or broken cashews)
    • ¼ cup raw peanuts (red skins on or off)
    • 4 cups puffed rice (murmura)
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon nice red chili powder, if needed
    • 1 teaspoon fine sugar

    1. Put the oil in a wok, karhai, or frying pan and set over medium heat. When hot, add the asafetida, quickly followed by the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds pop, in a matter of seconds, add the green chilies and curry leaves (take care, as they will splutter). Stir and fry for a minute or less, or until the last two ingredients dry out. Add the cashews and peanuts. Stir and fry briskly until they just turn golden.
    2. Quickly add all the puffed rice. Stir and fry for a minute. Add the salt, chili powder, if needed, and the sugar. Stir well, then turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool completely, and transfer it to an airtight jar or tin. It should stay fresh for at least a week.