Murukkus are traditional South Indian savoury and crispy snacks usually made during festivals. There are lots of varieties of murukku. Thenkuzhal is one such murukku traditionally made in our households during the Deepavali/Diwali festival.
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Thenkuzhal is basically made from rice flour and urad dal flour. The flours are mixed with water, made into a soft dough, and deep-fried by squeezing into the oil with a murukku press. Urad dal is replaced by besan or chana dal flour or roasted gram flour to give other murukku varieties.
Generally, in Tamil families, huge quantities of the thenkuzhal murukku are made and stored in big air-tight tins. These are distributed to friends and neighbors during the festival. It stays good for almost a month and we loved munching these back from school.
In those days the flour was homemade and milled locally. Today, most people rely on store-bought flours. Even readymade murukku mixes and doughs have come up for sales for people with time constraints.
These murukkus are made using a special mold having 3 smooth holes in a murukku maker. The dough is squeezed into the oil in twisted shapes and deep-fried. Hence the name murukku which translates to a ‘twist’.
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The recipe is universal, with the ratio of the rice flour to dal being more or less the same and slight variations here and there. Some people use butter or ghee to make the dough, while some use oil. Mom used to add a big ladleful of hot oil, which was always a rough estimate.
I kept dabbling with the urad dal and butter proportions, starting out with half a cup of urad flour and a tbsp of butter. Finally, after umpteen trials, I have settled with this one. This is hands down the best thenkuzhal I have ever made.
I have opted for store-bought idiappam flour as well as urad flour. This murukku is usually white or mild golden in color, as no chilly powder is added. It is hollow in the middle, like a tube which translates to kuzhal in Tamil, and that partly explains the name.
Do give it a try my way and you will not look any further 🙂 .
Over to the recipe…
- 2 cups Idiappam flour
- ¼ cup urad dal flour /mash flour
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
- 1 tsp salt (or as needed)
- ⅛ tsp hing/ asafoetida powder
- 1½ cups water(or as needed)
- oil as needed for deep-frying
- Measure out the flours into a container. Melt and add the butter, salt, sesame seeds, and hing.
- Mix together to incorporate the butter into the flour, till it resembles bread crumbs.
- Add water little by little and make a smooth dough. Cover with a wet cloth and keep aside.
- Grease the murukku press and heat up oil in a pan. Fill the mold with the dough and squeeze into the oil.
- Remove when the bubbles die down and the 'zzzz' oil sound stops. Remove from the oil and drain onto a paper towel.
- Cooldown completely and store in air-tight tins or containers. Enjoy munching!
- If you cannot access urad dal flour, dry roast whole white urad without browning much, grind and sieve before using.
- I have not roasted the flours before using them.
- The black sesame seeds can be replaced with white ones or even cumin seeds if you like.
- You can replace the butter with oil or use a mix of oil and butter too.
- Decreasing the quantity of butter will also work, but you will not get that softness. Too much butter and the dough will disintegrate in the oil. So do not increase the quantity of butter.
- Always keep the oil on medium heat. High heat will brown up the murukku without cooking and in low heat, it will absorb too much oil.
- Drop a small bit of dough in the oil if it comes up in a few seconds, you are good to go.
- The surface of the thenkuzhal is smooth. If you get a ragged surface, it means water is less. So add a bit more water and proceed.
Do look up my other snack recipes