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Author Notes: This recipe for Bengali Potato Fritters is as essential and as basic as it gets. These potato fries are seriously good!
Hence we also call them Seriously Good Potato Fries.
They are a classic Bengali snack and can be done with any vegetable of your choice the popular favorites being eggplant, pumpkin and potatoes. This particular variation comes to me from my father’s neighbor. My grand mother (thakuma) lived away from the main city and visiting her was usually a planned affair that extended over a day. Their old neighborhood still retained some vestiges of the simplicity of village life. When we visited various people dropped by to chat or just say hello. Without any invitation of warning.
One of the places we always stopped by was Loti-di’s home. She was a distant relative who lived adjacent to my grandmother. Widowed at an early age, she had no children and enjoyed living vicariously through my grandmother’s brood. Despite her spartan pantry, these treats were always available on short notice. She did not peel the potatoes and the skin in these fritters add an amazing layer of complexity. Spiked with bits of green chilies, she often offered these with puffed rice or muri and small cups of tea. The ratio of vegetable to batter is important, it should have a thin crisp outer coating enveloping soft well done veggies. —Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles
Serves 4 to 6
- 3/4 cup chickpea flour, sifted
- 2 tablespoons rice flour
- 1.5 teaspoons salt or to taste
- 1.5 teaspoons cumin or nigella seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon d cayenne pepper (if you like it spicy, you can up this to 1 teaspoon)
- 3/4 cup lukewarm water (enough to form a pancake consistency batter)
- 2 green chilies, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 3 cups medium sized russet or yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced with the skin on
- 1/2 pound pumpkin or winter squash, sliced with about 1 cm thickness
- 1 teaspoon canolla or grapeseed oil for frying
- Place the chickpea flour and rice flour in a mixing bowl and add in the salt, nigella or cumin seeds, turmeric, red cayenne pepper and stir well.
- Add in the lukewarm water and mix well enough to make a smooth batter, thick enough to coat the fries but not too thick.
- Stir in the red onion, green chilies and chopped cilantro mix well.
- Mix in the potatoes and pumpkin pieces.
- Place the canola oil in a heavy bottom skillet, heat until a dropped bit of the batter, sizzles, dances and crisps up easily.
- Add the batter coated vegetables, one by one, into the hot oil. Add enough to fill the pan leaving enough room to allow the fries to be turned without crowding the skillet. Cook the fries on each side for about 2 to 3 minutes, until crisp and nicely golden. Turn and cook on the other side. These need to cooked in batches and with care to allow the batter to get crisp.
- Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels before serving.