Curry is the gateway to Indian cooking. It is the backbone of Indian cooking, it’s the glory of Indian cooking. 660 Curries (Workman Publishing, 2008), by Rhagavan Iyer, is jam-packed with easy one-dish dinners that dance on the palate, in recipes created from the home kitchen. This recipe for Fried Matchstick Potatoes is from the section “Curry Cohorts.”
India’s Parsi community loves to top its curries with these addictive shreds (what’s not to love about salted fried potatoes?). They are a cinch to make and will keep for a week or two. Try to restrain yourself from eating the potatoes before you top your favorite Parsi curry with them—but then, I can’t claim such restraint!
• 2 medium-size potatoes, such as russet or Yukon Gold
• Canola oil for deep-frying
• 1 to 2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
1. Peel the potatoes and shred them into matchstick-thin pieces (see Tips). Place the shredded potatoes in a large bowl of cold water to keep them from turning brown while you heat the oil.
2. Pour oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches in a wok, Dutch oven, or medium-size saucepan. Heat the oil over medium to medium-high heat until a candy or deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F (don’t let the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can tell if the oil is at the right temperature for deep-frying by gently flicking a drop of water over the oil’s surface; if the drop skitters across the surface, the oil is ready.
3. Once the oil is ready, drain the potatoes and pat them very dry with paper towels.
4. Line a plate or a cookie sheet with three or four sheets of paper towels. Sprinkle a handful of potato shreds into the oil and fry, turning them occasionally to ensure even browning and to prevent them from sticking to one another, until they are caramel brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon or a Chinese-style skimmer (gadget-shopping time again) and allow them to drain on the paper towels. Repeat until all the shreds are fried. You may need to adjust the heat to maintain the oil’s temperature at 350 degrees F.
5. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and salt them while they are still warm. When they have cooled, store them in self-seal plastic bags in a cool, dry spot for up to 2 weeks. Use on your favorite Parsi curry.
• These days you have a few gadget options for shredding the potatoes. The larger holes on a box grater yield the perfect thickness. I usually shred the potato lengthwise, to create long, elegant strips. If you are using a chef’s knife, cut the potatoes lengthwise into cardboard-thin slices, stack a few of the slices at a time, and cut them into long, thin shreds. Specialty kitchen stores now carry a julienne peeler that shreds potatoes; use it as you would a swivel peeler. A mandolin will also do the trick.
• Cooking just a handful of potato shreds at a time produces the best crispy, non-greasy results. Overcrowding the pan not only will lower the oil’s temperature, but also will yield greasy shreds that are, frankly, yucky (nice technical term).
More from 660 Curries:
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from 660 Curries by Rhagavan Iyer, and published by Workman Publishing, 2008.