Christmas Murukku

A giant murukku is fun to serve at a cozy gathering, as a communal snack. This unusual size takes a little dexterity to pull off but worth the effort. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Murukku (extrusion) mould; Silicone silpat or wire rack with the baking tray.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice flour + 1 cup besan
  • 1 tbsp ajwain (carom) + 1 tbsp white sesame seed + 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper + 1 tbsp EVOO + salt to taste

Make a hard dough using a little cold water (about 3 oz). Divide the dough into two equal halves and shape each into a cylinder to fit the mould. I used one half to make a gigantic swirl and the other half to make about a dozen small ones (see picture). Gently place the swirls using spatula on a wire rack or a silicone silpat.

Bake at 275 F for 30-45 mins till crisp (and oak colored). Cool and serve or store in airtight container.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Note the traditional murukku is deep fried.
  2. Use rice flour from Indian grocery stores, not SouthEast Asian stores. The latter is usually not preprocessed and is glutinous– this will not work for this recipe.
  3. If the dough is soft, it will not retain the tiny spikes (from the star-shaped hole in the disc of the mould) while extrusion, so make sure the dough is pliable but on the hard side.
  4. Lie the mould flat on the edge of the counter and use the lever handle (as you would a pasta roller). This technique is unorthodox but effective.

Rice Vermicelli Salad

I never paid much attention to the ubiquitous pink pickled onions dotting the tables of many Indian restaurants in the west. I was taken aback once when I was asked about this “iconic” condiment by an eager gourmand. Embarrassed by my bias, I was determined to bring it center-stage.

Flash pickled onions in white balsamic is what puts this otherwise plain salad over the top. The white truffle oil only gilds the lily. You will be surprised by how well the simple ingredients come together in this tangy-sweet, sharp, bright salad. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

None.

INGREDIENTS

  • Rice:
    • 1 cup brown basmati
    • 1/2 cup loosely packed broken vermicelli, dry pan-toasted till golden brown
    • cooking liquid: 1/2 cup champagne + 1 1/2 cup water
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pickled onions: 2 cipollini onions, thinly sliced and soaked in 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar + pinch salt, for 15 minutes
  • Dressing: 3 tbsp (white truffle) EVOO
  • Greens: 1 1/2 cup loosely packed baby red Russian kale
  • Nuts : 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • Topping: micro greens (optional: shaved Dill Havarti)

METHOD

In a pot, place the rice and the cooking liquid. Simmer on low-medium for 15 minutes. Add the toasted vermicelli, mix and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn off heat and fluff the rice. [Adjust with the cooking time of the rice of your choice, by adding the vermicelli at the mid point]. Season with salt and pepper while the rice is still warm.

To wilt the greens, fold in while the rice is still warm.

Drain the shallots and reserve the liquid for the dressing. Make a light dressing with the reserved liquid and EVOO. Mix shallots and the nuts in the rice, when slightly cooled.

Dress the salad and serve (cold or at room temperature) with the topping. 

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. Champagne can, of course, be replaced by your favorite dry white wine if you don’t want to exhaust your precious bubbly.
  2. Notice that there are two layers of greens in this: the wilted greens and the topping greens. This is deliberate to contrast the texture and sharpness of the two classes.
  3. The creaminess of Havarti contrasts well with the chewiness of brown rice.
  4. Shallots is a good substitute for cipollini. Even regular onions- just slice it very thin.
  5. Additional greens like baby spinach, arugula is also welcome.
  6. The combination of fragrant rice, nutty vermicelli and almonds is a Persian inspiration. Albeit, without the brown butter (ghee).