If there’s one thing that our friends overseas can never get enough of,it’s our savoury Indian snacks. Among the lot ,the murukkus are a clear winner.They insist that it’s the perfect nibble accompaniment to a glass of chilled wine,especially during the summer months.So,it doesn’t really matter if it’s a work trip or leisure,the murukku packing is always a big deal. Not only must they be transported with minimal breakages but special care must be taken to avoid any seepage of oil that may have disastrous effects on clothing !
It is with great pride that we carry these food gifts which are unique to our part of the world. Hand made murukkus require special skills set which is not only to twist the dough with the fingers but also to form neat spirals quickly within a certain span of time using a press.The dough is ground to a particular consistency which facilitates ease in shaping and handling.These skills are hard to come by and rarer still to find people who use natural ingredients.
When our regular murukku suppliers were indisposed,we asked around for options and were told to head to Krishnasamy Nagar and ask for “Parimala -the lady who makes murukku” .Despite the vague details we did exactly that and landed at her doorstep.She was out but we managed to get her mobile number.Though she seemed a bit hesitant when we spoke to her over the phone we nevertheless decided to pay a visit the next morning (the murukku fans were depending on us after all)
Contrary to our doubts, Parimala Saminathan operated out of a well-organised, efficient space in a covered portion of her back yard. A small table top grinder on one corner of the area hummed away,churning the pale peach coloured batter in rhythmic motions.On another table was a long white muslin cloth (washed and sun dried after each use) on which was placed a brass hand press and a container of more batter. A heavy cast iron pan filled with oil was set over a high flame making it obvious that the morning plans would revolve around making several kilos of the much in demand kai and pidi murukkus. A small print out stuck on the side wall said, ‘Narayana Foods’ .Her orders are solicited purely by word of mouth.Though her daughters have created a Facebook page she says that it is mainly for those who want a visual of her products.
Parimala offered tasting bits of the different savouries that they make.What struck me right away was that it looked and tasted like it was made at our kitchens at home.
The counter tops and flooring were spotless.When we commented on that,the women at work smiled and said that they took great care in keeping their work space clean. A tall Godrej cupboard against a wall was opened up to show the array of ingredients neatly lined up and kept under lock and key. Ghee and butter from a certified brand are used for preparing the dough and ground nut oil for frying. When asked if they would consider using cold pressed groundnut oil , Parimala said she was open to giving it a try.She adds that packing in plastic can also be given a miss if customers were to bring their own containers.
While first time customers may initially grumble that her products are priced a tad higher than the rest she says they always come back when pleased with the quality,taste and texture.Parimala decides on her work plan the previous night and the routine commences early the next day. She hires more helpers when she gets big orders for festive occasions.
Speaking to her and watching them making their products with precision and enthusiasm made it all the more special that these murukkus were in fact ‘home made’ and not store bought. When my friends visit Coimbatore next we can actually introduce them to the people whose hands were responsible for making their favourite South Indian treats. Not only were we pleased at this find but I was most tickled that I managed to get a boomerang shot of the murukku making for my insta story ! (follow @pink.lemon.tree)
Parimala Saminathan (Narayana Foods)
#77 School road
9894134455 (Between 9am and 5pm only)
Orders must be place at least 48 hours ahead
She makes (Rs.400/kg) murukkus, mixture, plain and flavoured (Rs.450/kg) thattais and a few traditional sweets