Murukku: Twisty Tales of a Timeless Traditional Snack

“If there’s no Murukku, there is no Deepavali.”

Credit: revisfoodography.com

Good day everyone! Welcome to Regina’s class of muruku 101 for beginners out there. Yes, you heard me right! Today I will be talking all about murukku. Before we proceed, I shall warn you that this post contains strong, descriptive words and tantalizing visuals of murukku that may cause craving, hunger and extra shed of calories and fats. In case of any weight gain, I shall not be held accountable for that. If we have come to an agreement, please take a deep breath and let’s enjoy the snack… I mean read.

The number one most important thing you should always remember about murukku is how satisfyingly crispy, amazingly good every bite can be. If you understand that by your heart and stomach, further information provided below will be easy to digest.

Second of all, the origin of the snack is from South India, or Tamil Nadu precisely. The news of the delicious snack traveled fast as it went into various other South Indian states where regional varieties and names started to emerge. Therefore, don’t be surprised to see a lot of different types of murukku available in the market.

Credit: zdrav40.ru

Why do we call it murukku? Well, the name derives from the Tamil word for “twisted,” referring to its twisted, tangled shape. It does make a lot of sense! I can’t seem to imagine calling murukku some other names except, probably “my favourite snack.”

If this delicious snack originated from India, how did it get so famous here in Malaysia? It has a long history, but cutting it to the chase, a lot of Indians migrated to Malaysia during the British colonialisation. Today, our nation is home to one of the largest population of Indian migrants in the world, constituting approximately 7% of Malaysia. Yay to that!

Every household holds its twists and turns of murukku’s recipe. Putting aside everyone’s secret recipe, four items will always be on the list: rice flour, urad dal (black gram flour), salt, and oil. But that is not enough to make a perfect murukku. There’s a lot of factors involved, such as the deftness of the maker’s hand.

Legend has it that the colour of the snack depends on the maker’s mood. Therefore, please don’t make it on a cloudy day or else it will be a deep brown with a hard texture. We wouldn’t want that now do we!

A little trivia: The love of a town in India called Manapparai for murukku is on another level. The Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology has applied for a Geographical Indication Tag for it. Hats off to them for setting the standard bar so high. Think you can beat their dedication for murukku?

 

Credit: swapnaskitchen.com

It takes a lifetime to master the perfect shape, size, and texture. The best part is that you have plenty of time to follow the five steps to get the “just right” amount of murukku’s crunchiness. First and foremost, mix all the dry ingredients together with your favorite flavourings. Slowly add hot oil to make them light, before pouring water gradually to make a smooth, non-sticky dough.

Too sticky will cause the dough to absorb a lot of oil but too dry will cause the murukku to break. If you have found the right consistency, scoop a handful of the dough to the greased murukku maker. Then, slowly press the mold to either a moist cloth or parchment paper to make a spiral. Carefully flip it with a metal spatula and deep fry them in medium hot oil until golden brown hue.

The snack comes in many different forms, and the most Instagram friendly #instafood is the lanky, spiral kind with a speck of cumin powder and a pinch of chili powder. Of course, life gets dull without some spice and flavors.

So, as the flexibility of the dough allows, murukku comes in many varieties; some are delicately tied into a ribbon (kara murukku), some are on a sweeter note in a shape of a flower (achu murukku), some are hand spun with an intricate weavings (kai murukku), and some has that extra kick of fire (kaara murukku).

A lot of people tend to associate it with Indians. Of course, that’s not entirely wrong. However, murukku has a secret charm of its own. It doesn’t matter your race, whether you are Chinese, Malay or Indian celebrating Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or Deepavali. This traditional Indian snack is just as loved and enjoyed by everyone.

 

Credit: archanaskitchen.com

It’s almost always a staple snack during Chinese New Year and Hari Raya celebrations, and at times, it even steals the spotlight of other snacks. It becomes the topic of conversation of family and friends. It’s a snack enjoyed universally and that, to me, is the most significant thing about the presence of murukku in Malaysia.

From meters away, we can already smell the aromatic fragrance of murukku which permeates from the kitchen. We all love a bowl of fresh batch murukku sitting on the kitchen counter. Loves go hand in hand with an action.

At the end of the day, murukku is a part of an Indian food heritage from the ancestors that one must carry on. It should be a habit instilled at a young age as a mean to spend quality time with the family. It is a process one did do and will always do as they breathe to keep the traditions alive in the years to come.

 

 

As we celebrate Deepavali, Butterkicap and I would like to wish everyone a very happy Deepavali. May the festival of light illuminate your life and bring the shower of prosperity and peace. On a side note, thank you so much for bringing murukku to us, we owe you tons of murukku!

P.S: Murukku is appropriate to have around the office, impress dinner guests, gifts for people like me who love food too much, part of a hamper and of course, your own consumption! Saying that, I would be more than happy to accept a box of murukku from you.

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Regina Wiriadinata
Regina Wiriadinata

Hello there, pleasure to meat you.. oops, I mean meet. Hunger tends to get the best of me, which happens almost 24/7. You can probably find me at a gelateria, holding triple scoops of gelato in a cone. Please donut talk about my diet because I always end up with a slice of cake at the end of the day.

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