Jhal Muri – Kolkata’s Favorite Snack

By Mark Wiens 15 Comments
Famous Bengali street snack - Jhal Muri
Famous Bengali street snack – Jhal Muri

Along with pani puri and ghugni chat, jhal muri is one of the most praised and widely present Bengali street food snacks.

In Kolkata you’ll find jhal muri at just about every street corner and directly outside of nearly every important door you ever exit (outside of banks, hospitals, transportation stations, museums, etc.).

Jhal muri vendor in Kolkata, India
Jhal muri vendor in Kolkata, India

Jhal Muri

Eager to sample as many Indian street foods as possible when I was in Kolkata, jhal muri was something that couldn’t be missed.

It’s a dry snack, perfect for walking and snacking, or as a snack while riding any form of transportation. It’s the type of snack I would have loved to be munching on while I was driving a truck back in University, or sitting in a movie slowly munching.

Bag of puffed rice for jhal muri
Bag of puffed rice for jhal muri

Puffed rice, which is essentially the same thing as Kellog’s Rice Krispies (a puffed rice cereal popular in the US), is the staple ingredient of any jhal muri mixture. I’m sure India was eating puffed rice long before Kellog’s began marketing it.

You’ll immediately know a vendor serves jhal muri by his overly large sack of muri (puffed rice) positioned somewhere at the street stall.

Accompanying the puffed rice are a variety of dry nuts and crunchy looking things, as well as a plate of sliced coriander leaves, red onions, and some limes. Finally, you’ll notice a few unmarked jars or bottles filled with spices and a variety of oils.

Fresh onions and herbs
Fresh onions and herbs

For jhal muri, the vendor will grab a metal can, toss in a handful of puffed rice, some lentils, roasted peanuts, possibly some other crunchy items, coriander (cilantro), onions, and fresh chopped chillies.

He then seasons it with a squirt of fragrant mustard oil, a squeeze of lime, and a few pinches of masala powder, and stirs everything together in a metal can using a stick.

Served in a newspaper bag
Served in a newspaper bag

Like many good Kolkata street food snacks in India (dry snacks that is), jhal muri is served in a little bag made from recycled newspaper.

Jhal Muri in Kolkata, India
Jhal Muri in Kolkata, India

Though it’s not a snack I’d eat everyday, I did enjoy the mixture. The puffed rice went well with the slivers of onions and chillies and every now and then I’d get a peanut or fried lentil. What really makes jhal muri so delightful is the mustard oil, which gives it a lovely flavor.

In Kolkata many vendors will give you a choice of what size packet you’d like to order. Depending on how snacky you may feel, you can get the 10, 15, or 20 Rupee newspaper bag full.

Here’s the video to go with this article. Press play now!

(If you can’t see the video, click here to watch it on YouTube)


15 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Kim turim

    2 years ago

    So no tomatoes
    Just dry ingredients
    Puffed rice-red onions-cocoanut-peanuts-sev-cilantro-spices-mustard oil
    (What else??

  • Seo Audit

    3 years ago

    great blog, you just done a faboulous job. i read your all blog

  • Jonas

    7 years ago

    Your work is incredible, whenever I can come here to read your posts that are wonderful

  • kim

    9 years ago

    Hey. Thanks for this video. We made this today and loved it!!! For our taste we will use a little less onion (maybe a spring onion) with a finer chop but otherwise, brilliant. (we are in New Zealand)

    • Mark Wiens

      9 years ago

      Hey Kim, you’re welcome, and great to hear you made it and enjoyed it!

  • Thomas

    11 years ago

    Its look almost like a pick and mix, Bombay Mix, you know the sort you get pre mixed around the world? Lush!

  • Mike

    11 years ago

    The recycled bag is awesome! I bet all those flavors together were great! This seems like a perfect on the go snack when you’re hungry but don’t have time to eat a larger meal. Excellent set of images, too.

  • Maria

    11 years ago

    Man-o-man that looks good and love the paper bag.

  • simon

    11 years ago

    this snack looks like it has been brought to Malaysia decades ago through the migrant workers and evolved a bit. Here its called ‘kacang putih’ (white nuts) because they coat the nuts in flour and honey. The trade is dying out here, I remember as a boy an Indian man would come on a bicycle selling it stuff in a newspaper cone. One day mom got concerned with him using newspaper (I bought from him every time he came ringing his bicycle bell) that my mom gave him an old telephone directory to use as paper cones.

    • Mark Wiens

      11 years ago

      Hey Simon, awesome, thanks a lot for sharing! That’s a great story, and I hope the snack doesn’t completely die out in Malaysia!

  • Annette | Bucket List Journey

    11 years ago

    Though this sounds like a tasty combination, what I really love is the newspaper bag!