Snack Recipes: French Fries Three Ways

When you travel abroad — and are vegetarian — you are often scrounging through the ‘sides’ in menus to find something meat-free, cheap and filling.

French fries are inevitably there.

As the world gets increasingly food woke, the variety of fries in that spot on the menu have become more and more delicious.

On two different visits to Britain and Ireland, to see my daughter, I chanced on great fries. Ireland is big on potatoes, of course, being the top potato-lovin’-muchin’ country and serve it many ways. And both Britain and Ireland are pretty kind to vegetarians offering quite a bit more exotic menu choices than other places.

I had occasion to sample these rather unusual types of fries — Truffle Oil Fries at a Belfast hotel’s coffee shop and Skinny Sweet Potato Fries with Feta and Pomegranate at a Dublin department store cafe and experiment with the recipes later. The Desi Fries recipe is my own.

Meat lovers might liked to add a little fried and finely chopped bacon or a bit of a crumbled chicken cube (mind the salt) as a topping to these fries recipes. Or not. Because fries always taste wonderful.

Truffle Oil Fries

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

  • ½ kg fries, deep fried or oven-baked (please see the note below)
  • 6-8 tbsp grated cheese, ideally fresh Parmesan
  • 3 tsp truffle oil (please see the note below)
  • Sea salt or any coarse salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder, optional
  • 2 tsp Tabasco, for extra spice, optional
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Method

  • Plate the fries individually or in a bowl, the moment they come out, piping hot, from the oven or the oil, after patting off the extra oil with a paper towel.
  • Season with salt and pepper and mix.
    Drizzle the oil and Tabasco over the fries, tossing lightly as you do.
    Then add the cheese and toss again.
    Sprinkle the parsley on top and serve.

Skinny Sweet Potato Fries with Feta and Pomegranate

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • ½ kg fries or sweet potato fries, deep fried or oven-baked (please see the note below)
  • 3-4 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled (feta is a tangy, salty Greek cheese, readily available in grocery stores and long-life versions can be purchased online)
  • Sea salt or any coarse salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh pomegranate seed pods or arils, preferably from a more sour, less ripe fruit

Method

  • Plate the fries individually or in a bowl, the moment they come out, piping hot, from the oven or the oil, after patting off the extra oil with a paper towel.
  • Season with salt and mix.
    Sprinkle the feta and pomegranate on top and serve.

Desi Fries

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • ½ kg fries, deep fried or oven-baked (please see the note below)
  • 2 tbsp dhania or coriander powder
  • 1 tsp or more chilly powder
  • Salt
  • 1 onion, chopped fine, for serving
  • Kashundi or Bengali mustard paste, for serving

Method

  • Plate the fries individually or in a bowl, the moment they come out, piping hot, from the oven or the oil, after patting off the extra oil with a paper towel.
  • Season with salt, dhania powder, chilly powder and mix.
    Sprinkle the finely chopped onion on top and serve with kashundi.

Zelda’s Note: While making your own fries from scratch is the more wholesome way to cook, the frozen, pre-cooked fries, available from several brands, can be oven baked quite easily using minimum oil.

For oven-baked fries: Line a baking tray with foil and drizzle a little extra-virgin olive oil on it. Spread the frozen fries across the foil-lined tray and drizzle a tiny bit more oil on top and grill in the oven at 180°C for 10-15 minutes or till crisp and they begin to change colour.

For deep-fried home fries: Choose 3-5 large potatoes, washed and dried well and peel and cut lengthwise into sticks using a sharp knife. Heat oil for deep frying in a kadhai or deep saucepan over high heat and fry the sticks in batches. Drain from the oil when crisp and starting to turn pink on a tissue or paper towel-lined plate.

For sweet potato fries: Peel 4-5 large sweet potatoes and cut lengthwise into sticks using a sharp knife. In a large saucepan, bring 3-4 cups water to a boil over high heat and pop the sweet potato sticks in. Parboil them for 5 minutes about and drain in a colander and pat dry. They should be well dried or when you fry them the oil will crackle too much. Heat oil for deep frying in a kadhai or deep saucepan over high heat and fry the par-boiled sticks in batches. Drain from the oil when crisp and starting to turn pink on a tissue or paper towel-lined plate.

Truffle oil is available in India at ridiculously high prices. Your best bet is to purchase a small bottle on a trip abroad or ask a relative living abroad to bring you some. There are many varieties of truffle oil — the cheaper the oil the less authentic. A less authentic oil will do just as well.

If you aren’t a potato fan use kandh or arbi or even green bananas. Use this recipe Kandh Fries, but omit the seasoning and instead use the seasoning in the recipes above.

For a vegan version of the Skinny Sweet Potato Fries with Feta and Pomegranate or the Truffle Oil Fries, use grated or crumbled vegan cheese instead.

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