Spicy Puffed Rice Snack
This easily assembled snack food has only one problem: it's so delicious that you and your guests will go through piles of it. It is traditional in Bengal, eaten in handfuls from a large bowl. It has complex flavor as well as fresh crunch from the combination of spicing and finely chopped tomato and cucumber. The puffed rice helps all the flavors blend.
2 cups puffed rice
1 teaspoon mustard oil or peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon nigella seed
Pinch of anise seed
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup grated unsweetened fresh, frozen, or dried coconut
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 small plum tomato, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped European cucumber
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the puffed rice in a large bowl.
In a heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cumin, nigella, anise, and turmeric, stir briefly, and then cover until the mustard seeds have stopped popping. Pour the oil and seasonings over the puffed rice and stir and toss to coat.
Wash out and dry the skillet, then return to medium-high heat. Add the coconut and stir constantly until the coconut turns a light golden brown. Add to the puffed rice mixture, then add the cayenne and toss to mix well. (The recipe can be made ahead to this point and kept in a covered container in a cool place for several days.)
Shortly before serving (the rice will get soggy if the tomatoes and cucumber are added more than an hour ahead), add the remaining ingredients and toss to blend well.
You can reduce the heat by cutting back on the chiles and cayenne.
As prepared, each serving contains 50 calories, 3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 8g total carbohydrate and 1g protein.