Making ‘Kai Murukku’ one of the most popular savouries of Tamil Nadu, is an art. Perfectly shaped Kai Murukku with delicious taste and crunchiness comes with much practice. ‘Kai’ means ‘hand’ in Tamil. It is shaped into a circular pattern with fingers and not by using any moulds like other murukku varieties.
Kai Murukku, is commonly prepared during festivals like Janmashtami and Diwali in Tamil Nadu. It’s a mainstay savoury in Brahmin community weddings as one of the ‘Seer Bakshanams’. For seer bakshnam, kai murukku is made in bigger size with odd number of rounds like 5, 7, 9, 11 and more (anju chuthu, yelu chuthu etc).
Whenever I relish this traditional South Indian savoury, I go down the memory lane to the time we visited my native place during vacations. My Grandma, great Grandma and Periamma spreading a large muslin cloth on the clean kitchen floor, making huge batches of Kai Murukku, Tattai, Seedai etc and we as kids gobbled down to our heart’s content.
For more Diwali sweets and savouries, please check Mysore Pak, Wheat Halwa, Badam Halwa, Almond Chia Seeds Laddu, Makkan Peda, Urad Dhal Laddu, Diwali Legiyam, Boondi Laddu, Microwave Kesar Coconut Barfi..
How to make Kai Murukku?
Dough made of grounded rice and urad dhal flour are twisted and turned using fingers to form circular shaped murukkus. There are two types of Kai Murukku. One by using boiled rice (puzhungal arisi) and the other with raw rice(pacha arisi).
If using boiled rice, we have to soak the rice for few hours and grind it into smooth dough. If it is raw rice, we have to prepare wet rice flour out of it by briefly soaking the rice, pat drying and powdering into fine flour.
My native place Kallidai Kurichi in Nellai district, Tamil Nadu is well-known for Puzhungal Arisi (boiled rice) Kai Murukku. Many small scale industries flourishes with Kai Murukku as their chief product. Each and every household are well-versed in preparing these with the technique handed down by their ancestors. Naturally, mine also is one such heirloom version. Here’s the Kai Murukku recipe given in a simple format.
- Boiled Rice – 1 cup
- Urad Dhal – 2 tbsp
- Unsalted Butter – 2 tbsp
- Roasted Jeera – ½ tsp, coarsely powdered
- Hing – ¼ tsp
- Salt – ½ tsp
- Cooking Oil for deep frying
- Soak boiled rice for 3 hours.
- Dry roast urad dhal till light golden colour. Grind it into a powder and sieve twice to get very fine urad dhal flour.
- Drain the water from soaked rice. Grind it into thick fine dough adding very little amount of water. Using wet grinder gives butter-like smooth dough.
- Dissolve salt and hing in 2 tbsp of water. Add it to the dough along with urad dhal flour, butter and roasted jeera powder. Mix well.
- Consistency of the dough should be like soft chapathi dough.
- Spread a butter sheet or clean muslin cloth on kitchen top. Keep a small bowl of oil nearby.
- Grease your fingers with oil. Take a lemon-sized dough, slightly dip it in small bowl to coat it with oil.
- Roll the dough into an elongated thread using your fingers(as shown in video). Twist and turn to make 2-3 rounds of murukku leaving space at the centre. You can also use a small bottle cap to have uniformed space at the centre.
- Repeat the above step and shape the entire batch into murukkus.
- In a thick-bottomed kadai, pour cooking oil for deep frying. Heat the oil in medium flame. Once heated, turn the flame to low-medium. (plz check Notes 6 for correct oil temperature)
- Carefully take murukkus one by one from butter sheet and gently drop them in oil (slide at a corner of the kadai).
- Depending upon the space in kadai, you can fry 5 to 6 murukkus at a time. Keep the flame low-medium while frying.
- Remove the murukkus from oil once the bubbles disappear and sizzling sound of the oil diminishes.
- Drain excess oil using a kitchen tissue. Let it cool. Store them in an air-tight container.
- This recipe calls for boiled rice(puzhungal arisi). It is also known as parboiled rice. Any traditional South Indian rice varieties that are non-aromatic can be used for making murukku. Old stock rice gives crunchy murukkus.
- The texture of urad dhal flour and rice dough should be very smooth for crispy murukkus. If they have thick granules / are coarsely grounded, murukkus will harden up while frying.
- Murukku dough should neither be thick nor gooey. It should be pliable to be able to shape it with twists and turns.
- Always add salt and hing dissolved in little bit of water. Don’t add salt while grinding the dough to prevent murukku from bursting.
- The oil temperature plays an important role in making perfect crispy murukkus. The flame should be medium while heating oil and low-medium while frying.
- To check the oil temperature, drop a small piece of dough in oil. If it raises to the surface immediately, the oil is well-heated and suitable to fry murukkus. If the piece of dough settles at bottom, oil temperature is not enough to fry. If the dough darkens in colour as soon as we drop in oil, oil is too hot to fry. Pause the flame for a minute or two to bring the oil to desired heat, switch on the flame again, keep in low-medium flame and start deep frying murukkus.
- To deep fry, you can use any cold pressed cooking oil like coconut oil, groundnut oil or canola oil. Traditionally, coconut oil was preferred as it renders nice aroma to murukkus.