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Muthusaram, Karasev: Savory Indian Snacks

By Delectable Victuals


naazhi Muthusaram, karasev, Kaaraasev: Savory Indian Snacks

Among the many home-made snacks my mom had handy when we were little, the top favorites of mine were Muthusaram and Ribbon Pakkoda.

Usually, most of these were traditional snacks made during special festivals, but, during summer vacations, when families gathered and kids were home and hungry all the time, my mom had huge metal containers filled with a variety of sweets and savories... feels like a dream, like another lifetime, just thinking about it now.

Typically, rice flour, chickpea flour, urad flour, salt, chili powder, water is all that is used to make these deep-fried savory snacks. Each family has its own slight variations to the standard recipe handed down through generations. My recipe here is based on my mom's, although I tinker with the proportions sometimes.

Muthusaram, also known as Mullu Murukku (thorny murukku), when done just right, sort of melts in the mouth and is hard to stop eating. At least for me :) I make it with just plain rice flour and a bit of urad flour, with a bit of cumin seeds for flavor and health benefits.

Kaaraasev is made with chickpea flour and a bit of rice flour. I like to add a bit of garlic and curry leaves for flavor and their health benefits.

Another mild sweet+savory kind of crunchy snack my mom used to make, called Maida Biscuit, is typically small diamond or square shaped biscuit, mildly sweet with a hint of salt, another year-round favorite. It is usually made with maida flour. I use my regular wholewheat flour, and this can be baked just fine, no need to deep fry.

These days, just about every snack, even crackers, seem to list HFCS as one of the first few ingredients and the so-called healthier ones in the market are not quite within my limited budget. So, when possible, I make a goodish batch of home-made snacks and store them for the kids, whose high point of the day seems to be snack time!

Of course, it is deep fried in oil, and baking it doesn't work out as well, but, as long as the oil temperature is right, it is not greasy; and compared to the hydrogenated oils used in store-bought crackers and snack items, zero trans fat Canola Oil seems a safer bet.

I don't really check the temperature with an oil thermometer when I cook - just learnt from my mom to drop a small pea-sized dough into the oil and see if it rises to the top in 5 seconds or so. If the oil is too hot, the outsides burn before insides are cooked, naturally; and if it is not hot enough, the end product is terribly greasy. Trial and error works best. Nothing like experience to figure it out, as my mom says :)

naazhi Muthusaram, Kaaraasev: Savory Indian Snacks

Of course, a Naazhi (dough press of sorts) would be essential to make these the right way as it has star-shaped holes that make the thorny texture of the Muthusaram. But, a ketchup or mustard dispenser would work just as well, only the Muthusaram will be more like Thenkuzhal with smooth outside.

As usual, my recipes are not always authentic or traditional, just something I've tried and liked. Here I add Flax Meal to the flours, plus some Nutritional Yeast (not the leavening active dry yeast). Incorporating flax meal wherever I can has become a habit, born out of necessity, thanks to kids' irregularity.

Since they are deep fried in oil, storing in air-tight containers in a cool dark place is good. After a week or 10 days, the oil could start giving off a rancid smell, and I've found that leaving the air-tight container in the fridge delays this rancidity.

Proportions of the flours are all that matter, so we can make a small batch starting with a quarter cup of urad flour and adding a cup and a half of rice flour to make the Muthusaram. So, am just listing 'measure' here.


Muthusaram
naazhi Muthusaram, Kaaraasev: Savory Indian Snacks

Ingredients for Muthusaram:
1 measure urad flour
1 measure flax meal
6 measures rice flour
1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
½ to 1 measure chili powder (optional)
2 to 4 tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste

Canola oil for deep frying

Preparation
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, add a little warm water at a time to make a loose yet thickish dough that can be pressed through the slots/holes of the dispenser easily, but not too watery/runny as it has to be dropped into hot oilDeep fry a small batch at a time at the right oil temperature, drain on paper towels or cheese cloth, allow to cool, store in an air tight container



Kaaraasev
naazhi Muthusaram, Kaaraasev: Savory Indian Snacks

Ingredients for Kaaraasev:
1 measure rice flour
1 measure flax meal
4 measures chickpea flour
1 Tbsp Nutritional yeast
salt to taste
2 cloves of garlic finely grated
a handful of chopped curry leaves (optional)
½ measure chili powder
water as needed

Canola Oil for deep frying

Preparation
Combine the dry ingredients, add a little water at a time to knead into a smooth yet loose dough that can be squeezed through a dispenser or naazhiDeep fry in oil, drain on paper towels or cheese cloth, allow to cool, store in an air tight container


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