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Twists in the tale

KK Mustafah | Updated on November 16, 2018

Women of the Mannadiyar community have been engaged in making the popular murukku snack for generations

The love for murukkus, savoured with a steaming cup of tea or coffee, is an enduring one. And one that has shaped the destinies of women such as 70-year-old Meenakshi, who is a veteran in the intricate art of shaping this snack. Women from about 500 homes from the Mannadiyar community have been engaged in murukku making for generations over the past 300 years. Spread across Mangalamkunnu, Cherpulasseri, Karippode near Kollengode, and Koduvayur in the Palakkad district of Kerala, this largely female workforce has steadily augmented the family income in these parts.

A savoury that originated in Tamil Nadu, murukku derives its name from the Tamil word for ‘twisted’, in a nod to its shape. It is prepared by twisting balls of dough or batter into coils before frying them in hot oil. The ingredients include raw rice, urad dal, cumin, carom and sesame seeds, salt and ghee. These are kneaded together into dough or mixed in a grinder. There are many variations depending on the type and proportion of different flours used. The kai (hand) murukku, as the name suggests, is handmade and involves using stiffer dough.

On an average, each woman makes about 200 to 400 murukkus in a day. The ones with four coils fetch them ₹1.50 each, while it’s ₹2 for six coils. The shelf life is about 40 days in a cool and dry climate. The murukkus are sold mainly in the local markets around that area.

Says Preethu, another member of the community, “Veterans like Meenakshi still grind the mix using a grindstone. After making nearly 200 murukkus on a daily basis, sore backs and aches are common among us. This is our family business and main source of income... if we don’t do it, who will? The new generation, however, is not interested in the business.” Preethu’s concerns are echoed in many of the homes where the murukku is made.

Published on November 16, 2018

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