Saira

Masala Fries and Tips with Tricks

Last week we made fries for a weekend afternoon snack. Since that was all we were eating, they needed a little jazzing up. Fries that could hold their own without the mess of condiments dripping across my couch.  I came up with Masala Fries – fries that were perfectly crispy and given a light dusting of chaat masala. Chaat masala is a finishing spice mix which brings together heat, sourness and a touch of sweetness. Just a little gives the dish so much pop making them completely addictive. And then there is an additional topping. Fried fresh cilantro. If you don’t have cilantro, any other fresh green herb will work. The fried herbs take on an amazingly different flavor and provide a wafer-like texture – light and crunchy. Just a word of advice when frying herbs: STAND BACK. They splutter for a good few seconds as their moisture is cooked-off. Once the noise subsides, they can be removed and drained.

Now, to get the fries part ‘down’, I follow the Belgian method of cooking them – after-all their fries are pretty hard to rival:

1) Use Idaho or russets for starchier-denser fries

2) As soon as you peel the potatoes, place them in a pot of cold water to avoid oxidization (when they go black), as you work on the rest. Slice them and place back in the water

3) Blanche the potatoes before frying – this ensure they are not uncooked in the center and makes them crisp from the outside and like mashed-potato from the inside

4) Before frying the fries, make sure they are completely dried off on paper towels or they will splatter and frighten you out of the kitchen

5) The oil should be at 375 degrees. Too hot and they will taste burned and too cold and they will be soggy with oil

6) Once fried, drain the fries on paper towels immediately and season liberally with salt whilst hot

Twice-Cooked Masala Potato And Herb Fries

Ingredients

4 russet/ Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced in to ½ cm wide pieces

Oil for deep frying

Chaat Masala (I like MDH brand which is available at your local ethnic store)

Salt

Method

1) Blanche the sliced potatoes by starting them in cold water. Just before the water comes to a boil, drain and lay out in paper towels being careful not to stack them. Allow to air dry for 5 minutes

2) Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan until it reaches 375 degrees or it sizzles when you drop a small piece of bread in

3) Fry the sliced potatoes until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and chaat masala

Thrown in the herbs and stand back. As the popping noise dies down, remove, drain and sprinkle over the top

Saira Malhotra, is of British–Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: www.passportpantry.com where she shares approachable and international recipes

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