By Santhana Somasundaram
Murukku is a savoury snack originating from South India and Sri Lanka.
While it’s consumed year-round, it’s a hot favourite during Deepavali (some call it Diwali), the Indian festival of light.
Murukku’s characteristic spiral shape is derived from the origins of its name which means twisted. Curry leaves, carom (“omam” in Tamil, “ajwain” in Hindi) and cumin seeds raise the oomph factor, making this classic Indian savoury twist perfect for snacking anytime. Happy Deepavali!
Total time: 1 hour
Yields: 45 pieces
A: Murukku Dough
500g murukku flour mix, store-bought
4 tablespoons chilli powder
2 tablespoon carom seeds (ajwain), dry toasted and ground to a powder
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, dry toasted and ground to a powder
25g (1 cup) curry leaves, spines removed and finely minced
B: Coconut Milk Mixture
250ml thick coconut milk
3 tablespoons ghee
C: For Frying Murukku
1 litre cooking oil
Curry leaves, fried to a crisp
1. Curry leaves add aroma to this snack. Roll them up like cigars – this is called a chiffonade – using a sharp knife, slice leaves finely and then mince. It needs to be very fine otherwise the leaves cannot pass through the murukku press.
2. Murukku Dough: Add curry leaves to A ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Set it aside.
3. Combine B ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat. When it starts to boil, turn off heat immediately.
4. While still hot, pour B mixture into dry ingredients bit by bit. Stir using a wooden spatula – mix until a dough forms.
5. To prepare murukku press*, grease inside with oil. Divide dough into 4-5 portions, depending on size of press. Fill it up till three quarters full.
6. If using a brass or stainless steel press, hold both handles, press and squeeze. On the other hand, see Buying Tip below for guidelines on how to use a plastic press. Pipe in clockwise manner onto a piece of greaseproof paper, till you see a spiral shape forming. Use your fingers to break off dough before forming the next coil of dough.
7. Repeat until dough is used up.
8. Heat up oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium heat. Gently slide murukku piece by piece into oil – at this point, the oil will sizzle. Sizzling will cease when the temperature stabilises. Do not overcrowd pan with too many pieces or murukku will not brown well. It is crucial to control oil temperature while murukku is being fried to ensure it comes out brown and crisp.
9. While frying, use a spatula to flip murukku. Cook until both sides are brown.
10. Transfer murukku onto paper towels to drain excess oil. Allow them to cool down.
11. Store in air-tight containers.
TIP: Curry leaves can be substituted with sesame seeds (toasted, 2 tablespoons) or dried anchovies (ikan bilis, 100g) washed and chopped. For a more tender dough, add 1-2 more tablespoons of ghee. Adjust amount of chilli powder if a less spicy murukku is preferred.
BUYING TIP: Murukku press – The traditional and more common one is made of brass. It is also available in stainless steel and plastic. They all come with disks of different designs. Brass and stainless steel presses are equipped with 2 cylinders (1 hollow and the other is solid) and has handles.
The plastic version is most economical and easiest to use. It has a spiral press. To use, fit the desired disk — 1 star or 3 stars. Roll dough into a cylindrical shape and insert into cylinder. Using one hand, turn knob clockwise while holding on to the cylinder. Strands of dough will slowly come out. Pipe as per step 6.
TECHNIQUE: If dough is too hard, add some hot water and mix until pliable. However, if it’s too watery, add some rice flour and mix it in well. There must be sufficient water in the dough or murukku will break while pressing.
Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee
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