For those of you who haven’t heard of this, a murukku is an South Indian savoury ‘Churro’ – that originated in Tamil Nadu. The name is derived from the Tamil word for ‘twisted’ which is how these look. Traditionally made by using a special dough press (henceforth mentioned here as the murukku acchu), these come in all shapes and sizes.
My husband and I love Murukku, and whenever we go back home to Chennai, we stock up on them, thanks to my mother-in-law, who magically conjures them with almost no effort at all! It’s like one minute she’s in the living room chatting with us, and the next, there’s a large drum of murukku cooling on the dining table. Magic, I tell ya!
Trying to replicate the same outside India (with carpeted floors, centralised air-conditioning, and windows that just don’t open enough), while not impossible, feels like what it is – too much work! Here’s why –
The smells! (this can be a bad thing too!)
Deep frying results in a house (and closet) that smells like oil for a week. I swear that when I go out, I can ‘smell the Indian‘ on me. And when I come back home, the house smells so oily, that lighting scented candles in every room seems not nearly enough.
Deep fry oil – Should I throw it? Should I keep it? Can I re-use it?
I hate wasting/discarding deep-fry oil. And yet, you can’t use them more than once for frying. Very few oils have high-smoking point and can withstand high temperatures before getting greasy. And grease is bad, very very bad for your health. Usually, once I’ve finished deep frying something, I filter and bottle up the oil in a clean glass jar with a tight lid, and use them for tadkas, or to roast dosas, rotis and the like – where I don’t need to re-heat them to very high temperatures for long.
The murukku acchu didn’t make the baggage cut
We all have that conundrum while packing our bags in India, where you have to decide which ones you absolutely need to take and which ones can wait till the next trip. Most of the time, stuff like the murukku acchu don’t make the cut because let’s face it – we don’t make murukkus everyday. But that extra bag of toor dal or tamarind pulp – makes the cut each time!
If you don’t have a murukku acchu, making murukku might seem impossible. False! A Murukku acchu is first and foremost just a dough press – something to process dough into a shape that makes it easier to cook evenly. The same thing that a pasta maker or even an icing bag with a tip can accomplish. So stop whining and take out those disposable piping bags!
For obvious health reasons – duh!
Last, but always the first thing on my mind, deep frying isn’t good for your health. Sure, here and there, once in a while – but considering my lifestyle where food is work and food is life – it can add up pretty quickly.
If one or more or all of the above reasons have deterred you from having the most beloved South-Indian snack, fret no more.
This version of the classic butter murukku is – 1. Baked 2. Does not need an acchu and 3. BAKED!
How does it taste?
When you buy baked potato chips instead of kettle fried – yes, there’s a difference in taste, but you don’t complain (out loud), do you? You get what you pay for – ok, that’s not fair, the healthy foods cost more than junk these days – but you get the idea!
Similarly, the baked murukku looks and feels exactly like its fried counterpart – crispy, golden brown and melts in your mouth – but it also feels more ‘grainy’. Just for a few bites though, and then you don’t even notice it.
All in all, it’s a win in my books!
*Rice flour – I used idiyappam flour, which is made using soaked rice instead of regular rice. Feel free to substitute with store bought rice flour instead. Slightly roast the flour over low-medium heat until slightly fragrant.
*Besan flour – This is just roasted chickpea flour that you can find in all asian super markets. Always dry roast the flour over medium heat, stirring constantly until fragrant. Remove before it changes colour.
* For urad dal (black lentils) flour, dry roast 1/2tbsp urad dhal till golden brown, cool and grind to a fine powder.
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