Benne Murukku

Benne Murukku was featured on the kitchn on Oct 14 2011
Back in the olden days, making Murukku traditionally was quite an elaborate affair. Short grain rice would be washed and allowed to dry spread out on a clean white cloth. When dried, it would then be stone ground in small handful batches to a fine powdery flour and the same repeated for roasted Urad dal/split Black gram as well. And the whole process would easily take couple of days before the actual making begins!
I know it verbatim because that was exactly how it was made in my grand dad’s house every year for the festival of Gokulashtami up until a decade ago. No wonder those murukkus were heavenly!
And little wonder why no one makes them that way these days..
Now we neither have the stone grinders, nor time or the patience and probably the stamina to stone grind as well, having been so used to all the luxuries of modern life.. Quite naturally my murukku making starts directly with store-bought rice and lentil flours and takes a fraction of the time it took for the traditional obsolete method.. And it turns out quite well too. But, stone grinding is quite an experience and exercise, take my word for it!

I learnt this recipe from my aunt who has been making lovely crispy white murukku for years.
Benne which means Butter in Kannada is a key ingredient that results in this crispy crunchy typical South Indian snack.
Don’t stare me in the eye because I said ‘Butter’! I’d rather use real butter any day than dalda which is rather extinct even in grocery stores these days or hydrogenated vegetable oils or margarine. And since we don’t make murukkus every other day, I guess it should be ok to indulge once in a while…

One other time when Murukkus were almost certainly made in miniature sizes was on one of the ten days during the festival of Dasara or “Bombe Habba” (Doll Festival) as it is popularly known in Karnataka.

I could not arrange “Bombe/Gombe” for display here as my entire collection of traditional dolls sits boxed up in storage back home. So, last week, I visited the Meenakshi temple instead for a visual feast of the Bommai Golu and made Murukku at home to relive the sweet memories of those “never to come back” golden days of childhood..
Born in the royal city of Mysore, Dasara was no ordinary affair for us. As kids, it was a tradition during Dasara to go to each house in the neighborhood asking “Bombe koorsideera?” (kannada) meaning “Have you arranged the dolls?” visiting those who did. In return, we were given a handful of “Bombe Baageena” (kannada) ~ goodies in short. Murukku was an absolute kid’s favorite owing to its taste and portability.

Murukku or Chakli making might seem quite daunting at first. Once you try, you’ll know how easy it is and probably even repent why you never did all these days..

Benne Murukku Recipe

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup urad/black gram flour
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/8 tsp  or a pinch of asafoetida (I prefer to use L.G Hing)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cold butter or hot peanut oil
  • salt
  • peanut oil for deep-frying
Other:
  • Murukku/Chakli press – I use a bronze Murukku press
  • disc with star at the centre (comes with the Murukku press)
  • banana leaf /aluminium foil / parchment paper / wax sheet
  • slotted ladles
How it’s done:
Wash the Murukku press, assemble the disc and keep aside.
Dry roast urad flour on medium heat until fragrant and golden brown. Be careful not to burn it. Alternatively, dry roast urad dal until fragrant and golden brown and grind it to a fine flour in a mixer when cooled.
Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl and mix all the dry ingredients well. Cut in cold butter and mix well using your fingers until incorporated. If not using butter, heat oil to deep-frying temperature or until shimmering and not smoking (test – cumin seeds sizzle) and pour it onto the flour mix and blend. This procedure is called ‘Saati”
When lightly pressed in your palm, this flour should hold shape without crumbling away. If not, adjust butter, mix and test again. The flour is ready to be mixed with water if it passes this test.
In a kadai / thick bottomed saucepan, heat oil for deep-frying so that oil is ready when Murukku is pressed and ready to be deep-fried. Keep the banana leaf /lining sheet of your choice ready.
Divide the buttered flour into two portions, keeping your working portion small so that when mixed, it should be the size of your fist. Sprinkling approx 2 tbsp of water at a time mix the working portion until it is soft, well mixed and holds good shape. The dough should neither be too wet nor too dry. If crumbs are falling off then it is too dry and too wet if the dough is sticky. When correctly mixed, even though it was sticky to start with, it should come off your palm and hold together. Shape the dough into a fist sized cylindrical roll.
Grease the insides of the press for the turning type and both inside and outsides for the pressing type of Murukku press. Doing this lets the dough slide easily inside the press. Fill the dough roll into the press and press onto a banana leaf or wet clean cloth or lining sheet of your choice in circular motion. Don’t worry if the first few strands break or don’t turn out perfectly like they should. The dough is quite forgiving, so if it breaks, just fix the ends or simply re-fill and press away.
To check the oil temperature, drop a tiny piece of dough. It should rise to the top as soon as it hits the bottom of the pan. If not, wait until the oil reaches the desired temperature and then switch heat to medium.
To transfer the murukkus into the deep-frying pan or kadai, slide one hand below the sheet holding on top of the murukku with the other palm, gently flip the sheet to transfer it into your other palm. secure the murukku with your thumb and gently slide it into the oil along the edge of the pan, palm facing down. Be quick to pull back your hand to avoid any oil spatter. If this is your first time, transfer the murukku as described onto a slotted ladle and slide the ladle into the oil and murukku will release itself.
Once murukku rises to the top, flip and deep fry until sizzling stops and the large number of tiny bubbles around the murukku die down to a few. Remove onto a tissue paper using the slotted ladle.
While the deep frying continues, press the next batch of murukkus and repeat.
Enjoy the “karrum – kurrum” as is or with cuppa of your choice!
Let cool and store in an air tight container. Stores well for at least 2 weeks.
Notes:
  • For larger quantities, just remember the rice : lentil flour ratio is 4 : 1
  • Good crispy Murukku depends entirely on how the flour is mixed with butter then water and how it is fried (temperature). So pay more attention to those.
  • Do not mix water to the entire flour. Mix small portions at a time sprinkling couple of tbsp of water at a time
  • Do not press Murukku way ahead of deep frying as the dough dries out and easily breaks when deep-fried
  • If the dough is too dry, just dip your fingers in clean water and mix again until it comes to the right consistency.
  • The color of the Murukku depends on the temperature of the oil. For super crispy (not brittle) and white murukku, deep fry at medium to medium-high heat only.
  • So far I have not found L.G. Hing in the Indian grocery stores here (I bring a stash from India). The most common ones are SSP and Vandevi.
  • Murukku/Chakli press is sold in almost all Indian grocery stores. I find the turning types much less stressful on the hands than the pressing types. 
  • If you are having trouble getting the round shape, don’t fret. With a little practice you should be just fine. Until then, you could even press the dough directly into the frying pan. Cut off the strands with your fingers when you want to stop.

Sending this to Blog Hop Wednesdays ~ Week 6 at Tickling Palates
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Rosemary and Garlic roasted Purple Potatoes

 

Right from the time I first saw them on Discovery or some such channel  I was quite fascinated with them. Years later, very recently I was thrilled when I got to buy them at whole foods. That was the first time ever that I held a purple potato in my life. You must be surprised at the way I talk about this rare (at least to me) vegetable as if it is worth its weight in gold.

So incredible is the feeling of discovering/exploring a new food ingredient!

Ever since I started blogging, everyday is a discovery of something new to me, blogging has left the doors of learning wide open. Now I always have my eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary when I stroll around the food market.

Nature displays her sense of color in fascinating ways. There is something magical about food in unusual colors, a pure delight.

Contrary to popular skepticism, purple potatoes even as they appear outlandish, are not genetically modified. Thank God!
Purple potatoes it seems were among the first to be cultivated in the Peruvian Andes by the Incas, reserved as a special treat for the kings.
Potatoes are off-late the most frowned upon food for their high starch content and for being just what they are, ‘carbs’. Purple potato with its vivid deep navy blue mixed purple color is both bold and beautiful, bold in hue and beautiful in looks and just like blueberries, it is supposedly rich in antioxidants.
Now that I have revealed the good news, aren’t there more reasons to pick up this purple tater than its whiter namesake?

I know exactly what’s on your mind now. What about its texture and taste? I am coming to it right away.
Some say they taste just like potatoes. I felt they taste quite purple, in a nice way, really. I don’t know if it was just me or the potatoes themselves.
The texture is creamy with a velvety feel to the bite, a tad bit sweet with a skin thinner. Some even say it is subtly nutty with a grassy note, may be it just depends on the produce or the season.
They are smaller, cook fast and turn almost an elephant grey on cooking.

I guess you can cook them in all the same ways as you would the regular spud but I wanted a recipe as flamboyant as their looks.
My least favorite way to eat them is all mushy in mashed potatoes. I feel slices and chunks flatter them better and thus roasting came as the natural choice.
Next time around, I’d love to explore them in a mixed bag along with their gold and rose counterparts as the contrasting colors sound rather interesting.

They are a bit pricey compared to the regular ones, but hey! I feel they are worth the premium. They are more nutritious and I love to eat them.


Rosemary being intensely aromatic perfectly accentuates this purple tuber united with the characteristic pungency of garlic.
Intensely flavorful and deeply satisfying, these healthy roasted purple potatoes are the perfect recipe to replace french fries. Neither the calories nor the guilt!
Purple potatoes are not something you see often served in a restaurant or in someone’s house. Hope you got a new recipe to share some good-eat moments with friends and family.
Do have your eyes out when you hit the farmer’s market this spring/summer.
May be I should grow them in my balcony garden…

 My next exploration would be purple potatoes with lavendar and fleur de sel in place of sea salt for a whimsical taste with perfect saltiness, another time. A pinch of food for thought, eh?
 Have you ever had a rendezvous with purple potatoes? How would you describe its taste?

Rosemary and Garlic roasted Purple Potatoes Recipe

recipe adapted from epicurious.com
Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 lb purple potatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves (about 1 sprig), minced
  • 2 garlic cloves or per taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt
Others
  • baking tray
  • aluminium foil to line the tray
How it’s done:
Preheat oven to 400°F
Line baking tray with aluminium foil and either brush or spray some olive oil.
Wash, dry and quarter the potatoes into wedges. To easily release rosemary leaves, hold the end of the sprig in one hand and pull the leaves backwards in a swift motion. Hold them all together to chop.
To easily mince garlic, let’s use the “smash the garlic clove with the knife” trick. Place the chef’s knife sideways on the garlic clove with one hand and smash it against the cutting board with the other palm as the hammer. Then peel and run your knife back and forth like a saw to chop/mince it.
In a large mixing bowl, quickly combine all the ingredients, salt being the last (to avoid sogginess) making sure that all the potato wedges are well coated with olive oil, herb and spices.
Arrange the wedges facing up on the baking tray and bake for 20 mins or until edges are brown and crisp and fork tender.
Do not over bake or leave the potatoes in the oven longer than the baking time or they’ll shrink.

Note

Dried rosemary should be fine too, though fresh works best. If it is your first time with this highly aromatic herb, here’s a handy video on how to chop Rosemary.
Thyme can also be used along with or instead of rosemary.
Fingerlings and gourmet potatoes work equally well with this recipe and result in crisp on the outside and buttery on the inside wedges.
White and red skinned potatoes work fine as well but not the russet potatoes.

Rosemary and Garlic roasted Purple Potatoes is my favorite post in April and hence sending it off to Your Best Recipe Roundup for April held by Nancy of Spicie Foodie

Also sending it as my entry to Hearth and Soul Hop volume 46 at the hub

Hearth and Soul Hop at the Hearth and Soul Hop Hub

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Thyme Garlic roasted Sweet Potatoes

Did you know the other uses of the conventional oven?
As extended storage space for heavy-duty cookware like the cast iron griddle, cast iron skillet, cast iron wok (kadai) and any other hard-to-lift cookware that are too big or hefty to fit inside the kitchen cabinets of a cozy apartment? That’s how it was for me until…I discovered the joy of baking, very lately. And since then, I cannot stop thinking about what I can cook in the oven next.
Even though conventional ovens were not a common sight in India back in my childhood years (even now it isn’t as much as the microwave), roasting sweet potatoes was not an unfamiliar concept. When we were kids, sweet potatoes belonged to the category of ‘fun eats’. Especially in my grand dad’s 100 ft long house in Mysore, at the fag-end of which was the old time bathroom with a pretty quarter of it occupied by a huge ancestral brass cauldron (hande, pronounced ‘hun day’ in kannada) for heating water. What has a boiling cauldron got to do with roasting sweet potatoes? Nothing. Except, the fireplace that heats it up from underneath while being mainly accessible from the outside of the bathroom, to place the firewood or light up the fire. On the hot flammable charcoal remnants in that fireplace was the perfect spot for roasting sweet potatoes covered in ashes and fiery red charcoal. I guess it wasn’t just the roasted sweet potatoes, but the whole process of roasting in itself that got the excitement written all over us. Those roasted sweet potatoes were uber simple with no special recipe to die for. But I guess I couldn’t help thinking about them ‘cos that’s how sweet potatoes were meant to be eaten, roasted not boiled nor steamed. Roasting really brings out the wild sweetness and the underground nuttiness of sweet potatoes like no other cooking method does. Along similar lines went the roasting of Jackfruit seeds (nuts) as well. Let me not drift off to another story lane now.
I have already posted in “Indian-American: A Fusion Thanksgiving Feast” how over the top I was in ‘the mood’ to celebrate Thanksgiving the American way, sans the turkey of course. After hogging on Food network for weeks before Thanksgiving, I was familiar with the festive menu to say the least. But when it was time to draw up my own fusion menu for the special day,  the recipe courtesy was by mr.google who brought me to this site where I found it and liked it.
I should admit that I approached the recipe with a lot of scepticism. How can something as sweet as this tuber taste scrumptious when seasoned with garlic, herb and red chilli flakes? But I left the better part of my judgement behind and now, I am thankful that I did.
The result? Luscious sweet potatoes, velvety on the inside with blistering brown outsides and delicious garlic herb flavors. Sweet potato and thyme in perfect harmony, the sweetness of it balanced by a hint of the red pepper flakes at the back of the tongue. Very satisfying as much as it is filling, absolutely easy as much as it is delicious.
As an amateur baker myself, I feel this is the easiest recipe there is to make in a conventional oven. So those of you who have avoided the ‘oven’ like the plague or have dressed it up for another job like I did for so long, let me tell you ~  if I could do it, you surely can too. Go dust your oven, so your kitchen can smell of warm aromas you have only read about…

recipe source: epicurious.com | November 2005| by Kathryn Matthews
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 large Sweet potato washed and cut into 1/2″ thick rounds
  • 2 big Garlic cloves, minced
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh Thyme
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes / 1 sachet crushed red pepper (pizza accompaniment)
  • ground black pepper (per taste)
  • sea salt
How it’s done:


  • Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium-size mixing bowl, add all the ingredients sprinkling salt and ground black pepper as per your taste and toss well to coat the spices and herb onto the sweet potato rounds.
  • On a large baking tray lined with quick-release aluminium foil, arrange the sweet potato rounds individually in a single layer. Oven roast the sweet potatoes placed on the top rack until tender and browned on top or about 40 mins. Check in between and more towards the end for otherwise burnt edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note:
I have roasted at 350°F and 400°F. If you want the sweet potatoes to be soft and tender and lightly browned, bake at 350°F. Or, if you want it to be crisp on the outside and softer on the inside, go for 400°F. Just be sure to check often with 400°F as the sweet potatoes tend to get burnt on the outside and the same goes to the garlic and herb as well.
Tips:
  • Place the sweet potatoes in the oven soon after adding salt.
  • Those little unused sachets of crushed red pepper from pizza home deliveries that you kept aside, this is the time to make use of it. That’s what I did. Though I had shelved them, I was pleasantly surprised that they came handy here indeed.
  • To release the tiny thyme leaves from the sprig easily, pull the leaves back rather than forward.

Paruppu Urundai

Savory Lentil Dumplings

[pa roo poo uroon dye](Tamil)
This recipe has been warming my drafts folder right from the day after Deepavali. Even though I have been meaning to get it out of my chest and ‘drafts’, other recipes took an unfair lead at being published so to speak. So, here I am presenting a little shy and not so much spoken about ‘Paruppu Urundai/Undai’.
I’d like to call it the lesser known healthy cousin of the Masala Ambode, with a taste well underestimated just because it did not take a plunge in the hot oil. I often wonder about its genesis, was it the cost of the oil that pushed them or did they just stumble upon while seeking for something healthier? In any case, we’ll let history be history and savor some good vegetarian protein in a healthier way and that’s what matters.
During my childhood years I was never quite fascinated by them and had probably decided at the back of my mind never to learn its recipe. And that is how recipes get lost in the family heirloom, to never make their way out of the black hole of the forgotten world. But then again, few recipes have their way of returning to you in a weird nostalgic way that you want to give them a try many years later and then, start respecting them in a whole new way altogether. Paruppu Undai is one such recipe for me as it was always a must-do on the menu to usher in Deepavali in my grand dad’s place. So, if not any other time of the year, we were sure to eat Paruppu undai the day before Deepavali. Being in the US and thousands of miles away from kith and kin, preparing Paruppu undai was a sure short cut way to walk through those memory lanes and re-live those beautiful Deepavali days.
This was my first time of making Paruppu undai and let me tell you that its preparation was not even remotely close to the difficulty I had imagined. So I urge you to go try it out before judging it as one of thosecan’t do difficult recipes‘. And, don’t let this simple looking dumpling fool you, it is quite filling, only you’ll ‘feel‘ it after 20 mins.

Things you’ll need:
Makes about 10 undai (rounds)
To grind:
  • 1/2 cup split Bengal gram
  • 1/4 cup Tuvar dal
  • 1 tbsp grated Coconut
  • 4 Red chillies
  • 1 Green chilli
  • pinch of hing/Asafoetida
  • salt to taste
To mix:
  • 3-4 stems curry leaves minced
  • 3-4 strands cilantro minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger grated
Other:
  • Pressure cooker/ Idli cooker
  • Idli stand/rack

How it’s done:

  • Soak the lentils in water for about 2-3 hours. Once soaked, give the lentils a nice wash until the water runs clear and drain.
  • In a mixer, grind the ‘to grind’  ingredients along with very little water to a grainy paste (not too pulpy and runny).
  • Mix the minced curry leaves, cilantro and grated ginger with the ground paste.
  • Shape them into small lemon sized dumplings by pressing them in your fist. Just an approximate oval shape will do, no need for a perfect round shape.
  • Place the lentil dumplings in the individual concave depressions of the Idli stand. Repeat and place on all the tiers of the Idli rack.
  • Pour in a glass of water in the pressure cooker and place the Idli stand inside.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and steam cook for about 15 mins on high heat, without the cooker whistle. Time it if required.
  • Once cooled, remove the steamed lentil dumplings from the Idli stand and serve warm.

{Arranged on a stacked up Idli stand, ready to be steamed}