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Traditional snacks



Crisp and fresh murukkus

CRISP `MURUKKUS' and melt in the mouth `athirasams,' are not very easy to find these days. However, there are small joints that continue to make traditional eats and those places have carved a niche for themselves in the burgeoning market for ready-to-eat food in Thiruvananthapuram.

`Lakshmi Murukkukada,' near the Fort Government Hospital, run by T. Mohana Kumara Pillai, is one such outlet. Says Mohan, as he prefers to be called, "I was encouraged to start this shop after seeing my aunt, who owns a shop selling snacks, earn a decent living."

Popular items

At Lakshmi's, one can buy snacks such as `murukkus,' `achappams,' `cheeda,' and `thenkuzhals.' Mainly made of rice, the all-women staff manage to make eats that consume 30 kilograms of rice a day on an average. Fried in refined palm oil, the price of a `murukku'varies from Rs. 2 to Rs. 5 depending on its size. `Achappams' are sold at Re.1 a piece while a `munthiri kothu' costs Rs.1.50 for a piece. `Pakkavada' and `karaseva' are available at Rs.60 for a kg while 1 kg of `cheeda' costs Rs.50. Says Mohan, "The most popular items are `achappams' and `thenkuzhal', but we manage to sell all that is made."

The process starts with Mohan chipping in to wash the rice and dry it on a piece of cotton cloth to absorb the excess water. The rice is then powdered in a small mill that he owns for meeting in-house requirements. While three women make `murukkus' and `thenkuzhals,' two others take care of the rest of the work. Says Mohan: "Most of our business comes from bulk orders.

A limited quantity of snacks is stocked for counter sales between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Cook and serve

The structure of the shop, which also doubles as Mohan's house, enables one to see the process of making the snacks. For instance, one can see murruku being made and buy it just after it has been fried.

Says Mohan, "We have customers asking for hot and fresh stuff. For them, we pack them just as it is being made."

REMA SUNDAR
Photo: S. Gopakumar

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