Puffed rice is a type of puffed grain made from rice, commonly used in breakfast cereal or snack foods, and served as a popular street food in India. It is usually made by heating rice kernels under high pressure in the presence of steam, though the method of manufacture varies widely.
A traditional puffed rice called muri (sometimes spelled mouri) is made by heating rice in a sand-filled oven. Muri is to rice as popcorn is to corn. The processing involved makes rice less perishable. Mandakki is a staple food in many parts of Rayalaseema, North Karnataka, Odisha, Tripura, West Bengal and Bangladesh. Jhalmuri or Masalemandakki is a very popular preparation made from mandakki (muri).
Puffed rice is formed by the reaction of both starch and moisture when heated within the shell of the grain. Unlike popcorn, rice kernels are naturally lacking in moisture and must first be conditioned with steam. Puffed rice can be created by heating the steam-conditioned kernels either with oil or in an oven. Rice puffed in this way is crisp, and known as "crisped rice". Oven-crisped rice is used to produce the Rice Krispies breakfast cereal as well as the crisped rice used in Lion Bars, Nestlé Crunch, Krackel, and similar chocolate bars. Though not as dramatic a change when compared to popcorn, the process and end result are the same.
Another method of puffing rice is "gun puffing", where the grain is conditioned to the correct level of moisture and pressurised to around 200 PSI. When the pressure is suddenly released, the pressure stored inside the kernel causes it to puff out. This method produces a puffed rice which is spongy in texture.
Rice can also be puffed by making a rice dough, and extruding small pellets which are then rapidly heated. The moisture in the dough flash boils and puffs the rice up. A cereal such as Cap'n Crunch is extruded, cooked, cut, pressurized, puffed and dried in a continuous process.
Modern "Puffed Rice" is attributed to an American, Dr. Alexander P. Anderson who, stumbling across "puffing" while trying to ascertain the water content of a single granule of starch, introduced the first puffing machine at the World's Fair in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1904. His eights "guns" that puffed grains for Fair goers were dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World" by an advertising billboard poster. Once the puffing principle, technique and technology had been discovered by Anderson, the competition to puff ready-to-eat American breakfast cereal took over the economy of Battle Creek, Michigan, with Kellogg's and Quaker Oats being two memorable and still active names to endure through the early puffing frenzy. After puffed breakfast cereal, came puffed rice cakes. Health reform and emphasis on natural foods began in the late 1800s and was principally centered in Battle Creek. Two leaders were men with the well known name of Kellogg: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his brother Will Keith Kellogg, most notable for his idea of adding sugar to Dr. Kellogg's manufactured corn flakes.
Puffed rice is an ingredient of bhel puri, a popular Indian chaat (snack). It is offered to Hindu gods and goddesses in all poojas in the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Pilgrims of Sabarimala often pack puffed rice in their Irumudikettu along with jaggery meant to be offered to Lord Ayyappan. Tamil saints say that Lord Ganesh loves pori, so it should be offered to him without fail. Pori has been mentioned in various Tamil literatures as an offering to Hindu deities. Offerings of pori and jaggery made to Vinayagar (Lord Ganesh) are mentioned in the Tiruppugazh, a 15th-century anthology of Tamil religious songs, written by Tamil poet Arunagirinathar.
Pori production has been the main family business for centuries among many villages around Namakkal, Avinashi in Tamil Nadu. In Telangana, as a snack typically given to children, puffed rice or bongulu is made into ball with jaggery sugar syrup or bellam pakam.
Mudhi is a staple food of people of Odisha. northern Odisha, especially Baripada, Mayurbhanj district is significant for the production of Mudhi, where throughout the state it is eaten in breakfast. NGOs have taken forward initiatives to engage village women of northern Odisha for producing Mudhi. Intellectual property rights (IPR) Cell of Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) has decided to bring out Geographical indication (GI) registration of Mudhi.
Puffed rice is referred to as mur-mure in some parts of India. In many parts of Andhra Pradesh, North Karnataka uggani along with Merapakai Bajji (Chilli Bajjis) are popular. In Karnataka, Mandakki Usli made from mandakki is also famous. In Mithila area, "murhi" is had with "kachari"-fried potato/onion chops, fried fish or with mutton curry. "Jhal-murhi" and "Murhi-Bhuja" are also very popular snacks in this area. In Madhya Pradesh, this is referred to as Parmal and its very often eaten with Sev as a snack and also used in Bhel.
In the United States and Europe, puffed rice is served with milk as a breakfast cereal, such as the brand Rice Krispies. Some chocolate bars, such as the Nestlé Crunch, include puffed rice, and puffed rice cakes are sold as low-calorie snacks.
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