The Sensitive Kitchen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Murukku (Chakli)

Traditionally these spicy palm-sized treats are fried by pressing dough in spirals directly into hot oil. I am neither that talented nor that brave, so I pre-press them in batches onto the oiled backs of metal bowls, then invert the bowls carefully into the hot oil. The oil detaches them and they keep their shape perfectly as they fry. You may also use a flat perforated metal ladle, if you own such a thing.

1/2 c moong dal
1/4 c chana dal
3 c rice flour
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp untoasted sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsp salt
large pinch asafetida powder
1 1/2 Tbsp ghee
1 to 1 1/2 c water
rice bran oil or other high-heat oil

In a large skillet, dry-roast moong dal until very slightly brown. Remove and let cool. Grind until very fine; sieve and re-grind large pieces. Repeat with chana dal. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine dal powders, rice flour, cumin and sesame seeds, salt, and asafetida. Stir to combine. Drizzle in ghee, working it in with your fingers to a breadcrumb consistency. Add water, starting with 1 cup and adding by tablespoons until proper consistency is reached. Dough should be very stiff but not crumbly.

Heat a 2" depth of oil to a frying temperature of 375 (temperature setting 6.5 on my induction cooktop). Place a quantity of dough in your murukku press. Squeeze dough out into spirals, giving 4 or 5 revolutions per murukku, onto oiled bottoms of metal bowls or an oiled perforated metal ladle. Fry until intense bubbling stops and murukku is lightly browned. Remove to a metal rack set over a sheet pan to drain and cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in an airtight lidded container.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kara Sev

Time once again for Diwali preparations! I get a little braver every year, so this time around I'm making my own namkeen (spicy snacks). This one is traditionally made by rubbing dough through the holes of a sevai ladle. This struck me as unnecessarily laborious, and anyway I don't have a sevai ladle. So I used my murukku maker. If you don't have one, I'm sure something could be worked out using a spritz press, or even a handheld (not box) grater. You might not get the traditional short-fried-noodle shape of kara sev, but they would still be delicious.

1 c besan (chickpea flour)
1 c rice flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ghee
Water (5-6 Tbsp)
Rice bran oil for deep-frying

Sift together besan and rice flour to remove lumps. (Besan will clump up a traditional sifter, so it's better to use a metal sieve.) Add baking soda, pepper, cayenne and salt; stir to combine. Add ghee and 4 Tbsp water. Mix this, adding water by tablespoonfuls, until you have a moderately stiff but not crumbly dough.

Heat oil on high until it shimmers, then back off to medium-ish (I used 6.5 setting). While oil is heating, prepare a resting place: put a single layer of paper towels on a cooling rack, and set this on a sheet pan to catch any drips.

Put dough in a murukku maker with the sevai plate (many large holes). Squeeze out 1" lengths and cut them off into the frying oil. Fry until bubbling subsides and sevai are just golden. Remove with a spider to your cooling rack. When completely cooled, store in an airtight container. Makes 6 cups.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

I got the idea for this pie looking in the fridge at a container of already-roasted sweet potatoes and then in the freezer at an unbaked pie shell. Next time I think I'll add some fresh grated ginger and maybe some vanilla extract.
20 ounces sweet potatoes, roasted whole, then peeled
1 1/4 c nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
3/4 c Sucanat or other dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 9" deep-dish frozen pie shell
Preheat oven to 350. Place sweet potatoes in work bowl of a food processor; process until well blended. Add yogurt, brown sugar, spices, eggs and salt; process until well combined. Pour batter into pie shell; smooth top with wet fingertips. Bake 1 hour or until done. Remove from oven; set on rack to cool. Refrigerate any leftovers.

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