If it’s Monday it’s Boondi for breakfast. And very possibly on Tuesday as well. I seem to have invented Britain’s newest breakfast cereal but I doubt it will transform me into the Twenty-First Century version of Mr Kellogg but it does mean I can eat my very own ‘Sugar Puffs.’
Perhaps invention is a little too strong but I have certainly given an Anglo tweak to an Indian food you very rarely see in restaurants. I came across it when invited to a Hindu festival in Sheffield and the food afterwards included what looked like puffed wheat or rice in a sauce of watery yoghurt. This, I was told, was Boondi. It was pleasant: savoury but low key in flavour and I thought little more about it.
Then I came across packets of it at my local Indian shop which I visit for my lottery ticket, big bags of cashew nuts, poppadoms, spices and the like. I always like to browse the shelves and pick up a packet of this or that to try back home.
Boondi isn’t wheat or rice but made with chickpea (basen) flour so if you like breakfast cereals but are gluten intolerant this would be ideal. It is whisked into a thin batter with water and dropped through a kind of spatula with circular holes into boiling oil. If you get it right it forms perfect hollow spheres. Otherwise they look wobbly. For me, it’s easier to buy a packet, around £1.50 for 400g.
You can get it roasted or spiced but I have only seen it plain. To be honest, it’s really bland. So I added some to the oats and nuts the next time I made some granola. It worked pretty well. Then I tried eating it like Sugar Puffs in milk with a sprinkling of sugar. Not bad. But I was convinced I could do even better. And I have.
I gently heat a large heavy-based pan, melt some butter and honey, add some spice, stir in the Boondi and stir until every ‘grain’ is covered in the butter-honey-spice mix. Do all this on the lowest heat setting: you don’t want to fry. I add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon or two of icing sugar for extra sweetness, in much the same way as you make popcorn. And that’s it.
Here’s the recipe:
30g butter (I used leftover brandy butter!)
1 tbsp honey
I tsp of cinnamon, cardamom or mixed spice
Pinch of salt to taste
Icing sugar to taste
Proceed as above. To avoid the cereal turning into a solid lump turn out onto a baking try lined with greaseproof paper and stir every so often until cold. This filled a one litre Kilner jar which you might have to shake firmly before tipping the cereal into your bowl. You might think making this is a bit nerdy but I do like DIY breakfasts.
Indians use it to make a pudding, topping a layer of sweet boondi with a milk and breadcrumb mix and baking in the oven.