Growing up in a typical Tamil Brahmin Iyer family can be wonderful for the children and coming from just such a family has made me feel nostalgic around tales from the kitchen. Rituals play a very important role in Brahmin families and food is not far behind as far as staying true to the traditions are concerned. Those days the ‘Bhakshanams’, (Dry snacks to be given to the guests as a take away), were made by the ladies of the house. They would assemble in the courtyard after their bath with the thin white towel loosely tied around their buns.
One such incident is fresh in my memory as my brother’s Upanayanam (Thread ceremony) was being hosted by my family. The children are fed some things and pushed away to play or do whatever or wherever fancy takes them. Those days parenting had a healthy dose of neglect; something that our generation can learn from. The grand Bhakshanam –the Murukku was going to be made by hand and that too in a mammoth quantity as the Indian mentality is that nothing should be less. Surplus is fine.
Why is that event fresh in my memory? I remember my mother and aunts making way for the courtyard with that busy look in their faces which meant that it was safer to steer clear from them. But who wants to be safe? My cousin and I were thrown out of the cricket match unceremoniously for our poor batting and that snooty look –“Girls!” Our next bet was the photographer who was called to cover the events for the D-day. We could always pose for pictures so as to give the photographer some practice. We had not heard of mobiles or even owning a camera was a distant dream. And we in our childhood innocence have posed for all the pictures bent down so as to be captured properly by the camera!
Now coming to the star dish of the day; we joined the group of ladies, indulging in light banter, as the first lot of Murrukus had been fried and had managed to get a good color. I don’t remember if they could taste the dishes as they were first meant to be offered to God. There is an interesting story behind the color of the murrukku. It has to be just a tinge of brown but crisp and a sharp snap sound to ensue when broken. The murukkus cannot be dark brown. If they managed to achieve the snap and the color then the mission has been accomplished. The story goes that if murrukus have this quality then the bride has a pure mind (if made during marriages) just as the whiteness of the murukku.
Then my cousin and I (7 and 9 years respectively) joined the ladies group to try our hand at making murrukus which seemed hardly a task. The batter is taken in one palm, dumped on the white dhotis, the center measured and then twisted, twisted, twisted in to a four centimeter radius circle. We were given some dough to try our hand. And gosh! Was it easy? Phew! The dough would just break or crumble or just be round with no twists. And I looked at all the lovely shapes spread out on the white canvas and looked at my amoeba like shaped murukku. Embarrassed I was about to run away when my youngest aunt looked and laughed and good humoredly patted on my head. She remarked, “There is all the time in the world to do this but only now is the time to hit the books and make a mark for yourself. Go on, finish your homework or read a book.”
My cousin and I beat a hasty retreat. Now, looking in retrospective, I have renewed respect for the earlier generation women who managed to do so much and still had a hearty laugh and a kind word for everyone.
I have conquered other South Indian snacks but ‘Murukku’ still eludes me. I just don’t seem to muster the courage to try my hand at this. The machine made ‘murukkus’ are available in plenty but can they replicate the handmade ones made by the ladies of the house. A big thumbs up to this Times of India initiative as it has given a platform to share such recipes. Kudos to all those women who have started blogs and use their time and technology to the best possible use. Do we also have to take responsibility of preserving some long forgotten recipes? Or lay we bare to the accusation again that we do not have a written history?
- 1 cup Rice , soaked for 40 min
- 2 tablespoons White Urad Dal (Whole)
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1/4 teaspoon Cumin (Jeera) seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Asafoetida (hing)
- Salt , to taste
- Cooking oil , for deep frying
- Chilled water , to bind
How to make Kai Murukku Recipe – South Indian Diwali Snack
- To begin making the Kai Murukku Recipe, we need to first make the flours required for the dough.
To prepare the rice flour:
- First Soak the rice for 40 minutes, strain the water and dry on a towel. Do not over dry, it must be just dry (slight moisture is essential). Blend into a powder. Once blended sift to get a fine rice flour. The flour must be used immediately to make the Kai Murukku.
- To prepare the urad flour:
- Roast about 2 tablespoons urad dal, color should be light golden. Cool and powder immediately. Sift to get fine powder.
To prepare the kai murukku dough
- Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida including the flours into a large bowl. Add in the butter and ice cold water and knead well to make a soft and smooth dough. Dough should neither be too thick nor too sticky. It should be malleable.
Shaping the Kai Murruku: Twirling the dough:
- Divide the dough into lemon sized balls. Keep the dough covered with a wet muslin cloth to avoid drying. Now, oil your fingers especially your fingertips.
- Gently pinch the dough and make it into an elongated shape. Twist and twirl with greased fingers and form a circular pattern of about 4-5 turns, as shown in the image. Place each one of these kai murukku in a greased plate until you have all ready for frying.
- Preheat the oil for deep frying. Once the oil is hot; slide the murruku from the plate into the hot oil. Fry on medium heat until golden brown in color. Drain and allow it cool. The cooling process makes the murruku crisper.
- Make and serve this delicious Kai Murukku recipe to your family and friends. You can also make this special murukku for diwali festival.
Serve this Kai Murukku Recipe as an evening snack with a hot cuppa