Thenkuzhal - Close Up

“Thenkuzhal”, a popular South Indian deep-fried snack, literally means “tubes of honey”. Made out of rice and urad flour, with hints of cumin and asafetida, thenkuzhal is a hit among kids and adults alike!

This recipe requires a special press (nazhi) for making deep-fried savories of this kind. It comes with several interchangeable discs with holes of varying sizes and shapes for different types of savories.

Ingredients (makes approximately 7 cups of thenkuzhal):

  • Rice flour (2 cups)
  • Urad dhal (2.5 tbsp)
  • Cumin seeds (1 tsp)
  • Butter (1 tbsp)
  • Asafetida (hing) powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Oil (for deep frying)


  • Dry roast the urad dhal on medium heat until golden brown in color and a nice aroma starts emanating from the dhal. Switch off the flame and let it cool.

Thenkuzhal - Roasted Urad Dhal

  • Take 2 cups of rice flour in a mixing bowl.

Thenkuzhal - Rice Flour

  • Powder the cumin seeds coarsely and add to the rice flour. Add asafetida, salt and butter as well.

Thenkuzhal - Flour, Jeera, Hing, Butter

  • Grind the roasted urad dhal into a fine powder. Sieve it and add to the rice flour mixture.
  • Slowly add water and keep mixing the flours, butter and spices to get a soft, pliable dough. The dough should be soft enough, so that it is not very difficult to use the nazhi (press). At the same time, the dough cannot be too soft or too watery because then the thenkuzhal will absorb more oil than is necessary while cooking. Here is what the dough should look like. Keep it covered until you are ready to fry the dough.

Thenkuzhal - Dough

  • Heat some oil in a heavy-bottomed vessel on medium flame. Keep a vessel lined with paper towels/tissue paper ready for placing the just-fried snacks.
  • Take a small portion of the dough, place it inside the press with the correct disc for thenkuzhal (a few big circular holes) in place.
  • Test the oil by adding a small piece of the dough. If it rises up immediately, the oil is ready.
  • Make the flame low. Now use the thenkuzhal nazhi/press in circular motion, starting from outside to in, to make a large circular shape of dough in the oil.

Thenkuzhal - Pouring in Oil

  • Let it cook for a minute or two, then carefully flip it.

Thenkuzhal - Cooking in Oil

  • Cook for a few minutes, flipping as necessary, till you get a dark cream sort of color. Take it out carefully and place on the kitchen towel lined vessel.

Thenkuzhal - Tissue

  • Continue until your dough is completely used up. In the end, you may have difficulty pressing the dough out into the desired shape because there will be too little dough remaining. When you reach this stage, take out the dough from the press, flatten it using your palms and fingers into a shape of your choice (I made little coins) and deep fry them.

Thenkuzhal - Coins

  • Store in an air-tight container.

Tastes (Rasa):

Sweet (rice, urad, butter, oil), sour (none), salty (salt), bitter (cumin), pungent (cumin), astringent (asafetida).

Doshic Influence:

First off, anything deep-fried in oil is at danger of being pitta and kapha aggravating in excess. In fact, people of all doshas might be better off indulging in only small quantities of deep-fried savories such as thenkuzhal etc. That being said, the cumin and asafetida help enhance the digestibility of the dish. Still, anything deep fried should be consumed strictly in moderation by all the doshas – for pittas due to the oiliness, for kaphas due to the heaviness and for vatas due to the difficulty in digesting.

Effects on the Mind (Gunas): 

Deep fried food is tamasic by nature. If made using fresh ingredients and oil at home, and if your agni is strong enough to digest it, you may enjoy it in moderation!







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