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Murukku

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There is an Indian spice shop near Coolidge Corner in Brookline called Madras Masala where I stock up on most of my spice needs. It has way more selection than the grocery store and is also much cheaper (and cheaper than some of the more trendy spice merchants in the Boston area) I ran out of cumin recently (it happens a lot) and was excited to pop in for a re-up. Every time I go there I try some of the snacks by the register like freshly made potato samosa and other little fried pockets of fun. This time something caught my eye that I had never seen before. A crunchy cumin filled treat that looked like something from the Artisan Knot store in Portlandia. On first taste I dubbed it the Indian cheeto and looked up a recipe to make it at home. I didn't have all the ingredients though so I was forced to go back to Madras Masala! Such is life's vicious cycle.


Asafoetida is so stanky that I need to double bag it. In fact this is an unopened container that I bought only a few days ago and I STILL had to double bag it and you could still smell it when you opened the cabinet it was stored in. Don't get me wrong, I love the smell, but it isn't something I want my house to smell like and I don't think the roomies would appreciate that either.



The dough is super simple to make.



Some cold butter and water and we are ready to go.



I almost failed here because I thought I had my grandmothers sugar cookie gun and thought that it was going to be perfect for this step. I realized though that I left it in storage and had to scramble for another way to do it. One pastry bag was not strong enough for this thick dough, so I ended up needing to triple bag it for this to work!!!



I pressed them slightly just to get the nests to stay as one in the hot oil.



Salt and cool.



These are soo fun to me. And tasty too! They are an addicting snack that is fun to eat because of the weird shape.



I just love the funky look of them.



Also there is something magic about whole cumin seeds in the fryer.



It might be fun to make these into Celtic knots for St Patrick's day.


My dough was derived from a bunch of different recipes and techniques I saw online. A lot of recipes toasted the flours before making the dough, but I felt that that was overkill because we are toasting it while frying it right? I made sure to have plenty of cumin, ajwain, asafoetida, and salt, because that is where all the flavor comes from. I also made mine smooth which is how I ate them at madras masala, even though most recipes online use a star shaped extruder to create a more rough texture.

3 cups rice flour
1 cup urad flour
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whole cumin
1 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon ajwain powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all the dry ingredients Cut in the cold butter until it is well mixed. Slowly incorporate cold water about ¼ cup at a time until the dough is formed. About ¾ cup or 1 cup total water. You don't need to be super serious about the coldness of the butter and water like with a finicky pie crust. Knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. Adjust water if needed. Dough should not be crumbly (too dry) or sticky (too wet). Use a cookie press or something along those lines to make the tubes. Press it out onto a greased plate or piece of wax paper to first form your shape, then drop it into the fryer. Salt right when they come out of the fryer and allow to dry and cool before serving.


6 Comments

I have been reading you for years but I have to confess that I've never commented until today. Murruku was my absolute favorite snack growing up in Madras, although we've never attempted to make it at home.We would always buy bags of them I I inevitably seemed to polish off before anyone else had a go at them. I'm so glad you discovered them!

very cool idea! I've had these in India and never thought to make them at home.

Love the Celtic knot idea.

hate the name of your blog but what you've done here -- making murukkus -- is amazing..

This is great! Just curious though, is cumin powder better than turmeric powder (since you used cumin)? And yeah, why not make it for St. Patrick's Day? I'm sure that will be a hit! :)

It was amazing to know that you made the ‘murukku’. From its look I should say that it has come off very well just as any native [my grandmother, mother, wife . . .] person would do it! Kudos to you!!

The name ‘murukku’ is a misnomer as its real name is ‘thenkuzhal’ in the Tamil language. I am sure to pronounce ‘kuzh’ may be tongue twisting for you as the pronunciation is unique to the Tamil language. If you know any Tamil speaking person just ask him how to pronounce. Else settle with ‘murukku’ which is easier on the ‘tongue’! ‘Then’ in ‘thenkuzhal’ means honey, while ‘kuzhal’ means a pipe!

But the real murukku is different. But the ingredients are the exactly the same. The ‘dough string’ will be half-twisted, by hand, unlike the straight single cylindrical smooth pipe shape in thenkuzhal. While thenkuzhal is made with an extruder instrument having a piston inside a sheath, the real murukku could be made by hand only – to give the half twist. No extruder can do the job! Not many younger generation people know how to give the half-twist! My grandmother and mother were experts – but my wife no, even though she is an expert on her own right in making several food items! It is an art, to say the least, to make a real murukku!

The real ‘murukku’ is an integral part of any South Indian Hindu Brahmin marriage. The bride’s party would give the groom’s party among other things, either 101 or 51 murukku of about 10 to 12 inches diameter! Now people buy them from the stores – but when I was young it was made in our house only.

The murukku made from the parboiled rice flower rather than the raw rice flower tastes better.

Instead of adding butter it is better to use the hot oil. With butter it becomes more brittle.

The star shaped murukku is known as mullu-murukku. Mullu means thorn. But mullu-murukku ingredients are in general very different. But one can make mullu-murukku with the thenkuzhal / murukku dough.

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