Malikhali puffed rice made traditionally, chemical-free

Habibur Rahman with Andrew Eagle

When a customer goes to the market to buy puffed rice, locally known as muri, they buy it in the knowledge that chemicals were used in processing the muri, making it injurious to health. But in various villages of Malikhali union in Pirojpur’s Nazirpur upazila, muri connoisseurs enjoy the same snack worry-free.

In Malikhali’s villages muri is still prepared in the traditional way, without chemicals. Muri-making is a tradition that’s endured for over a century in the area, locals say. Many families first buy paddy which is processed at home into rice. Next, they make muri.

“I prepare muri year-round,” says Lopa Bashu, 40, of Lawra village. “But of course it’s during the month of Ramadan that demand shoots up.” Muri is a traditional foodstuff used by Bangladeshi Muslims during the month of fasting.

Bashu says she has been preparing muri from the days of her youth following a technique learnt from her mother. First they fry rice and sand separately in mud pots before pouring the fried rice into the hot sand.

“We don’t use any chemicals with our muri,” she says, “We don’t even know what chemicals others use.” Unlike its commercial counterpart, the traditionally made muri is not pure white or as consistent in form. But it’s tasty and more importantly, safe to enjoy.

Bashu recommends enjoying muri with tea or making sweet balls with it.

Like her, other village women are also experts in making traditional muri, a scenario common to the 20 villages of Malikhali union. Indeed, even the village men have been known to help.

“I buy paddy from Sreerumkathi bazaar,” says Mihir Basu, 50, a neighbour. “And it’s important to choose carefully since muri can’t be prepared from all types of rice.”

“It’s also the men who take the finished muri to the wholesale market Boithakata bazaar by boat,” he says. “That is our main contribution.”

According to local muri-makers, four maunds of paddy costing about Tk 3,200 with additional production costs of around Tk 500 can produce 95 kilograms of muri, to be sold in the wholesale market for approximately Tk 65 per kilogram.

Although the profits from muri-making are modest, many village women gain satisfaction from adding to their family’s income.

“In the home, we don’t have any income source. What we earn making muri is enough for us,” said Kanika Rani, a villager of Sachiya village in the union.

Source: The Daily Star. Date: February 11, 2016