We gujjus (short form for Gujaratis) love our snacks. My mother was an excellent snack maker and I was a great eater. It meant that while I learnt to appreciate the taste as my wasteline expanded, I never paid attention to how she made the delicious Gujarati snacks sev mumra and chevdo (like Bombay mix) let alone easy things like rotlis and puris.
When it’s really hot there is nother better than a nice bowl of sev mumra with a really ice-cold beer. Mind you in India, it’s eaten at snack times with a hot cup of tea …whatever floats your boat.
I used to resort to shop bought stuff. But pah to that! I can do it and that way I can get it exactly how I like it. As I’m a bit stubborn and didn’t want to ask advice from any aunts or cousins, I spent a lot of time on Google and went all Heston-Blumenthal-like trying out various recipes and cooking techniques etc. For now, I’m going to settle for the following. I won’t claim it’s a healthy snack but once in a while it can provide a good treat for toddlers. In which case, leave out the chili powder and reduce the salt.
To make this you will need a sev maker. These are available from good Indian cookware shops, ebay and my favourite Spices of India.
You will also need a deep fryer or a karai, a large bowl to put the cooked sev and mumra into lined with kitchen towel to soak up the oil, a large tray again lined with kitchen towel and an airtight jar for storage.
Ingredients for Sev (gram flour sticks):
- 1 cup gram flour (besan)
- 1 tsp chili powder (murcha) – optional
- 1/2 tsp turmeric (hurder)
- 1/2 asafoetida (hing)
- 1/2 black peppercorn ground – optional
- 1/2 cumin seeds – optional
- 2 tbs hot oil
- 3- 4 tbs water for dough
- Salt to taste. I went easy on this and had only 1 tsp
- Oil for deep-frying – this time I used groundnut but think I’ll switch to sunflower next time as it’s healthier
Ingredients for mumra (puffed rice)
- 1 cup easy cook long grain rice
- Oil for deep-frying as above
- Sift the gram flour into a bowl. Add the other dry ingredients and blend really well
- Add the oil and with a spoon (as it’s hot) mix it in thoroughly
- Add enough water to create a firm dough (perhaps to the consistency of old playdoh)
- Now grease the inside of the sev maker. The disc with the smallest holes is used to make sev
- Heat your oil in a karai or deep frying to medium heat. It’s ready when you drop in a tiny bit of the dough and it slowly rises to the surface
- Now put some dough in the maker and close the lid. Screw it down until it’s touching the dough (tiny bits should start popping out of the holes
- Carefully hold it above the hot oil and then turn the handle so that long strands start to come out. In a circular motion let these drop into the oil. APPARENTLY, to stop the strands you turn the handle the other way but this didn’t work for me so I just used my finger to pull them off and drop into the oil
- Cook the sev for a minute on each side. Don’t let it get too dark. The colour should be a light yellow
- Take out the sev with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl lined with kitchen paper
- Cook rest of sev this way
Cooking the mumra
In India mumra is cooked in a hot wok like device with black sand. In America, it was first cooked by being shot out of a cannon!! It can either be cooked with hot air in an oven (as Rice Crispies is) or a hot wok (didn’t work for me, the end result was distressing as brown rice kernels stuck to my lovely wok) or deep fried (not healthy! but works)
- Heat oil to medium to hot. Oil is ready when you drop in a kernel of rice, it quickly sizzles then puff to the top.
- Drop a few rice kernels in at a time. If you are using a karai or a large deep fryer, then use a sieve to drop them in as it’s easier to take them out
- When they puff up, quickly take them out with a slotted spoon. The result should be a puffed up white rice. If the rice ends up brown, your oil is too hot
- Take out and put into a bowl lined with kitchen paper
- To blot off excess oil, I also lined a large tray with kichen paper and laid the cooked rice on this
Once the sev is cooled, break it into very small bits, then combine the mumra. Put into an airtight jar.
NOTE: if it’s not going to be eaten by toddlers, then before putting it into storage, add salt, chili powder and sugar to the mix to taste.
It should last a few weeks in the jar.
A great way to eat it is chop up some white onion into very small dice, add the sev mumra, throw in a handful of boiled white chickpeas and a squeeze of lemon juice.
The recipe for sev is very flexible as I said above. You can make variations by adding garlic paste, or carom seeds (ajwain), or cumin seeds (jeera).