Kai Murukku

Nithya Balaji


Vegetarian, snack, South Indian

Nithya Balaji

Nithya Balaji holds an M.Phil. in Computer Science. Her food blog www.nithubala.com focuses mainly on South Indian Vegetarian Cuisine. She is interested in food photography, food art and floral rangoli. She is a writer of stories in Tamil and English. Her stories and recipes were featured in popular magazines.

Whenever I think about a fried snack, the first thing that hits my mind is Kai Murukku. Pankajavalli Patti, (Patti means grandmother in Tamil) my paternal grandmother, and Gandhimathi Patti, my maternal grandmother, were both experts in preparing Kai Murukku.

Left Gandhimathi Patti (standing), Srinu Thatha (sitting, her husband) Right Pankajavalli Patti (standing)  Ramachandran Thatha (sitting, her husband). Celebration of Nithya’s mother’s wedding. 1973.

You need time and patience to make good Kai Murukku. In the 1980s, when readymade mixes for Murukku were not used, the flour preparation would start at least a few days earlier. Since even a small error in making the dough could spoil the taste of the Murukku, my grandmothers would take utmost care in preparing the dough.

Kai Murukku

Once the dough was ready, they would take the dough to an open terrace. Here they would lay a mat on the floor, and cover it with a clean white cloth. Then, they would start rolling the spirals of the Murukku around a small lid of a bottle. They would place the spirals on the dried cloth to absorb the extra moisture.

My mom's job was to fry the Murukkus and drain the extra oil by placing them on a clean white cloth. She would then store them in air-tight containers. For the next few days Murukkus would be our routine snack in the evening along with a cup of tea.

I had not tried Kai Murukku on my own until a couple of years ago. My first attempt was a total flop. Even after few attempts, I couldn't make a perfect Murukku. Then, my aunt helped me to get the right shape and taste - just like what Grandmas used to make.


Makes 20 Murukkus


  • Par-Boiled Rice - 2 Cups
  • Urad dhal Flour - 1/4 Cup
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tbsp
  • Melted Butter - 1.5 tbsp
  • Oil - To fry
  • Salt - 1/4 tsp
  • Coconut oil - 1 tbsp (To grease fingers while rolling out the Murukku)



Grind rice to a fine paste with a little quantity of water after soaking it for about 3 hours.

Dry roast urad dhal flour on a medium flame for a few minutes. Let the flour cool down.

Now, combine ground rice, urad dal flour, cumin seeds, melted butter and salt in a bowl. Knead well to get a soft dough.

Spread a clean white cloth on a kitchen counter or on the floor.

Grease hands with coconut oil. Divide dough in equal parts and make lime-sized balls. Place the balls in a closed container to prevent the dough from drying.

Take one ball at a time, and roll it between your hands to form a dough rope.

Place a bottle lid on the cloth and roll out the dough rope by twisting and rotating around the lid with only with thumb and index finger to get the perfectly shaped Kai Murukku.

Place the dough spirals on the cloth for few minutes to absorb extra moisture.

Fry till light golden colour.

Drain extra oil by placing the Murukku on a kitchen towel.

Store in air-tight container.

© Nithya Balaji, USA 2011

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