I was waiting in the queue at a checkout counter of a mall and there were these two boys ahead of me, pushing a trolley full of soft drink cans, chips, cookies, frozen food and the kind and they were discussing about the movies that they can download and playlist of party songs that they need to decide upon. The kids, not even in their teens, were shopping crazily and I couldn’t help but compare their swag with my boorish persona when I was in my teens.
I have very distinct memories of my childhood when kids in neighborhood would get a daily ‘pocket money’ of around 25-50 paise to buy stuff of their own choice. Clutching the 25/50 paise coin in their tiny hands, buzzing around the strategically placed glass barnis at provision store that were filled with assorted candies, lollipops, biscuits, chocolates and chakli, struggling hard to decide what they should buy, comparing rates and finally buying things of their own choice, marching towards home with a contented smile, relishing their tiny treats, these kids were the most regular customers of the vendors.
My siblings and I were not a part of this brigade since we never got the so called pocket money. My father, a foodie, would make sure to keep the pantry stocked with munchies of various types. His trips to Sahakari Bandar or to local grocery store would mean a bag full of goodies for us to savour throughout the month. Saichuro ( Chivda), Dal moth, Dal nakul, chakli, Papdi, gathiya, Bhoimung (roasted peanuts), biscuits, Bhavnagri singhar (Sev) and many other savouries , along with Eclairs (Cadbury’s) or Kismi (Parle’s cardamom flavoured caramel chocolates) chocolates, were stocked regularly in various permutations and combinations and were served to guests and to greedy kids at home (but strictly rationed).
We seldom ventured out to buy the tiny treats but I would often accompany my father to grocery stores and vegetable market. The glass jars filled with variety of goodies would enchant the child in me but buying things inanely was not encouraged in our family since we thrived on a moderate budget.
Amongst the junk in the glass jars, there used to be a clay lookalike that would fascinate us, and it was known as Bhuri. Our parents encouraged us to eat it and though it appeared intriguing, it would taste awful.
Boori /Bhoori/Bhuri or also known as Bhurrani mitti, was a pale yellow delicacy that would crumble in hands and melt in the mouth. As a kid I never could appreciate the chalky aftertaste of Bhuri or the slightly fermented floral flavours with earthy undertones of that yellow powder. I always thought it was a kind of clay (like Multani mitti) and would wonder why our parents allowed us to consume it. Years went by and Bhuri almost disappeared from the grocery stores and I forgot about its existence.
After decades, Vandita Kumar, a follower of Sindhirasoi Fb page, reminded me about this forgotten gem. It was then that my hunt for Bhuri began. I was curious to know about its source/s and the benefits of consuming the same. I discussed the same with many of my friends and finally it was Kusum Hitesh Rajai, who told me that Bhuri is still available at Khubchand Pasari store in Ulhasnagar. I finally found it.
Now that I had Bhuri, I was curious to know more about it and thanks to the owner of Khubchand Pasari store, Mr Ram Khubchand, I am able to share this little bit of information with you all….
Bhuri is supplied by a person who is secretive about its origin and recipe. Mr Ram told me that it is perhaps made from the ‘powder’ (I assume it to be pollen) of a particular flower that blooms around lakes/ponds somewhere between Shivratri and Holi (Feb-March) and that the ‘powder’ is steamed and compressed (naturally, perhaps by tying in bundles) and is available around April-May. The shelf life is impacted by the moisture and Bhuri could get infested with moths or weevils, fungus or even gather webs if not stored properly. He suggested refrigerating bhuri if you are unable to exhaust it in 2 months or if the weather is humid.
Mr Ram told me that Bhuri is known for its immunity boosting properties and that even kids can consume it throughout the year. It is purely a vegetarian product and is available at selected shops.
I am still looking out for more details, about the flower, about the health benefits and whether we can consider Bhuri as a super food if it is indeed made from flower pollen.
Do you have any information about this? Have you ever tasted Bhuri? Would you like to buy it? If you need any help for purchasing this, you can approach me via contact form.
I am obliged to my friend Mina Joshi, for her efforts to find out the details about Bhuri.
She led me to this wonderful article and suddenly I could connect all the dots. In case the link is not working, do try this one
So as per the respected blogger and writer Nawal Nasrallah, Bhuri, known as Khirret in local language, could have originated in marshy areas of South Iraq.
So now we know that Bhuri is made from the pollen of Bardi , a plant belonging to Typha species, also known as Cat tail or Reedmace.
During spring season, the pollen grains of Cattail plant are collected and dried in sun. The grains are then sifted and mixed with sugar. A pan or a pot is filled with water and heated. When the water starts boiling, a clean cloth is tied over it and the pollen grains are spread over it and covered with another piece of cloth. The mixture of pollen and sugar is allowed to steam cook till clumps are formed.
These clumps are nothing else but the Bhuri/Bhurrani/Boorani mitti.
New Update: I came across this video yesterday and till I get the permission to share the video here, just have a look on making of Boorani!