Sometime in 2004 I was in Garhwal (North-India) for a week, visiting organic Dehraduni Basmati farmers and herb farms. Long enough to pick up recipes from families of farmers like a magpie! Soon I will be featuring some of them here. This is their version of fries which were sold at a street-side eatery as a snack. Aloo Churchurri- the word “churchurri’ is intended to convey the sizzling sound of the herbs being thrown in at the end, just before the fries were scooped out! Garhwal has some special herbs that rest of India does not grow or use. Jhamboo/ Pharan is one of those. A flat leaved chive Allium stracheyii, more garlicky in flavour than our chives. A close relative of the Chinese chive Allium tuberosa in taste.
The process of starting the frying in cold oil (something I came across in Spain later), gives a very distinct taste and texture to the potatoes. The next batch is started in fresh oil again, which I found very healthy as an option unlike other eateries that keep using it for 2-3 days. Since the oil does not smoke or discolour, you can use the oil as a shortening in Paratha dough, store it in a bottle for stir-frying vegetables, it is infused with flavours. At the eatery the hot oil was used to make batches of chicken stir-fries at the next cooking counter. A delectable mix of herbs and masala topping makes these fries exceptional and to die for.
Use waxy large potatoes/ I do not peel them if they are organic.
|3 large long waxy potatoes. Washed & peeled/ or scrub and leave skins on if organic.|
|Olive oil/ Sunflowerseed oil/ Peanut oil for frying|
|5-6 stalks of coriander, ( washed but dried on a tea-towel) leaves and stalks roughly chopped in 1 cm lengths|
|a bunch of chives- chopped in 1/2 cm length- about 1/4 cupful|
|3 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced vertically like slivers|
|2-3 dry red chillies broken in two ( remove seeds if you dont want the heat).|
|In a small bowl, make a masala mix using the ingredients below:|
|1 tsp chili flakes, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp coarse pepper powder, 1/2 tsp fennelseeds crushed to a coarse powder,1/2 tsp dry lemon or amchur powder, salt to taste|
|1.||Cut the potatoes in long even-sized batons, similar to potato fries.|
|2.||Add them to a bowl of lightly salted water, after 5 mins, drain all through a large colander. Transfer to a tea towel and pat them dry.|
|3.||In a large, wide & deep fry pan pour some oil to cover the base, arrange all the batons at the base.|
|4.||Pour enough oil over the potoato batons to cover them till the oil is 2 cm above the potatoes.|
|5.||Set the pan on the stove and start heating the oil on medium heat. It should take about 5 mins to get hot. You might have to use a spatula to gently check that the potato batons are not sticking to the base.|
|6.||Keep the oil on high heat once it starts to bubble and fry. It will take about 5-7 mins more till you see the potatoes going deeper yellow, crisping the cut edges, and looking yellow-golden.|
|7.||Keep a close watch, the time differs for some types of potatoes. Take out one, cut to test if it is cooked inside, the outer side should be crisp.|
|8.||At this moment, add the garlic slivers & chilli pieces. Fry till the garlic is lightly golden and chili becomes darker, then add all the herbs and fry them too for a few seconds.|
|9.||They should crisp within few seconds. Herbs must remain fresh green.|
|10.||Start removing all with a strainer-spoon ladle so that you get all herbs and garlic out too. Do this as quickly as you can.|
|11.||Remove to a tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb extra oil.|
|12.||Transfer to a wide bowl, sprinkle generously with masala mix and toss through.|
|13.||Serve Aloo Churchurri hot & crispy.|
Achieve this colour, and see it sizzle. When chilies are fried time to throw in the herbs all in one go.