August 30, 2013

Kai Murukku

Kai Murukku is a crunchy, hand-made south-Indian savory snack, primarily made with rice flour. Murukku is usually prepared for special occasions & festivals. Making murukku is a laborious process and the technicality of getting perfect swirls & crunchy texture comes only with practice.

My maternal great grand-ma (கொள்ளு பாட்டி in Tamil) used to visit us during summer holidays. It was always a delight to see her and be with her not only for all the delicious food/snacks that she makes, but also for the love that she had for us, for the wisdom & warmth that she gave us, for all the small engaging stories that she told us, and for all those fun & native games that she played with us. Of all the games that we play, தாயகட்டம் (Indian Dice Game), பல்லாங்குழி (Traditional Mancala game), கூழாங்கல் (five stones game) were our favorites.

Other than spending quality time with us, she dedicates her time in cooking starting from day-day cooking to making special & traditional snacks for us. I 've always been a big fan of her kai murukku. Oh! what a sight it is to see my great grand-ma and my mom making murukku/swirls with such precision & ease. The best part of 'murukku making' process is that my patti gives me also a small ball of the dough and lets me practice making murukku on the side. Man! how I miss those rich & treasured times that I got to spend with my great grand-ma. The memories are so deep & powerful that I get very emotional when I think of her. I miss you so much 'geethamma' and I could only wish that you were around!!

And, I am dedicating this post for you amma, totally!! Who else in the world can give such detailed 'to-the-point' recipes other than mom?! Her 35+ years of kitchen experience is clearly shown in the tips (see the recipe below) that she gave when I asked her the recipe for murukku. Valuable & Priceless! Love you loads, Amma!

Basic Info
Complexity - Difficult
Prep time - 2-3 hrs
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 20 nos

Raw rice - 1 cup (I used sona masoori rice)
Whole urad dal - 1/5 cup (a little less than 1/4 cup)
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Hing - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Butter - 1.5 tbsp
Vegetable oil - for frying
Coconut oil - for greasing the hands

Wash & soak raw rice in water for 45 mins - 1 hr.

Dry roast urad dal until golden brown. Let it cool and grind it into a fine powder.

Drain and spread it in a clean cloth / kitchen towel to absorb excess water. Let it dry completely, about 30 mins. Tip: Drying under the sun is quick & effective.

Using a mixer, grind the rice into very fine powder. Mix to combine 1.5 tbsp of urad dal powder with rice flour.

Using a sieve, separate finely powdered rice from coarse rice. Sieve the flour twice; Do not press/rub the flour through the sieve. Grind the collected coarse rice and sieve it one more time to filter finely powdered rice. Discard the coarsely powdered rice. I got about 2 cups of rice flour for 1 cup of rice. Tip: Skip all the steps above and just use 2 cups of store-bought rice flour and sieve it twice.

Dry roast the sieved flour until nice aroma wafts. Tip: The color of the flour shouldn't change.

In a big bowl, mix rice flour, salt, butter, cumin seeds, hing well to combine. Add water little by little and knead it into a smooth pliable dough. The dough should neither be too loose nor too tight, but just right enough to make swirls / murukku. Tip: Make the dough just before you are ready to make murukku. Don't let the dough sit for too long.

Grease your hands with coconut oil and make murukku/swirls in a dry kitchen towel/ clean cloth and let it dry for atleast 30 mins. Refer the video to make murukku. Tip: If you let it dry for too long, murukku might break when transferring to oil.

Heat oil in a frying pan on medium flame, and fry until golden brown. Tip: Watch out for the boiling sound (தப்பளாக் கொதி in Tamil) to flip murukku to the other side (or) remove them from the oil.

Drain excess oil in a dry kitchen towel, and store it in a air-tight container after it cools completely.

Check out the video to see how to make murukku swirls!

Linking this to Gayathri's Cook Spot - Tribute to my mom - Special Event.