After missing out last month due to a crowded schedule, it’s nice to be hanging out with the cooks of the Indian Cooking Challenge again! This month’s recipe is for a sweet treat, Manoharam, which started out very similar to the Kara Sev I made in July but with a finishing twist that makes me think this batch won’t last the week!
I did some liberal rewriting of this particular recipe (shared by Lataji), namely skipping the encouragement to grind your own flour bit–not going to happen at this time. Instead, I did some substitutions based on the Kara Sev recipe and added some spices based on the finished product:
1 c Rice Flour
|Combine dry ingredients and mix until spices are spread out among the flour.
Make a well and pour the olive oil into it. Mix until dough is clumpy and then add water a little at a time until the dough starts to hold together. Knead gently until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough into 4 parts and roll into balls.
|Heat about 2 quarts of frying oil in a pot or deep fryer to 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Oil a murukku press or (as in my case) a potato ricer fitted with a large die and load the first ball of dough into the press.
Press out long strings into the hot oil, using a knife to carefully cut the strings away from the press, if necessary.
|Frying should only take a minute or two, depending on the thickness of your strings. Drain on paper towels until cool.
Place the fried sticks into a gallon-size plastic bag and crush–but don’t pulverize–the sticks. I could be nice and say it looks somewhat like bran cereal about now but it really looks like kitty kibble.
Measure the resulting pieces. I came up with right around 20 oz, dry volume. According to the original instructions, the powdered sugar used in the next step should be approximately a quarter of the volume crumbled murukku.
I call foul, here, as that was nowhere near enough to coat it all. I think the major issue is that while it says volume on one line, it actually goes between grams (weight) and Liters (volume) in another.
|Instead, make a sugar syrup of
2 c Powdered Sugar
and cook to hard ball stage (250-265 degrees Fahrenheit). Generally you want to stir the mixture while the sugar is dissolving but not stir once it comes to a boil. Washing the sides of the pot as it boils will keep the sugar from collecting on the walls while the syrup comes to temperature.
|Remove from the heat (carefully–this can do serious damage so no sudden moves and no sloshing!) and carefully pour over the crushed murukku bits.
Oil your hands and, once the mixture is cool enough to handle, form the sticky bits into 1-inch balls.
This may or may not really work, all depending on your sugar mixture and how quickly it cools.
It might not be as pretty, but just breaking up the large brick-o-manoharam works just as well and is still just as tasty!
Before the sugar syrup was applied they were perfectly serviceable snacks on their own–much better than the last batch of Kara Sev which suffered from a lack of flavor. After the sugar, those, these little bits of brittle keep calling us back into the kitchen for continued snacking. As I suspected, it’s similar to pretzel or popcorn balls (though obviously without the airiness of the latter) and a nice candy to have around.