French Fries

Some years ago, when my daughters were still in their pig tails, they used to demand to be taken to the nearest fast food joint at least twice a week, where it was customary to order for bowlful of French fries along with burgers. Now of course, as they are in their teens, they have become weight conscious and these outings have become few and far between.

I am sure most of you are sailing in the same boat. Not only children but even adults like us love to eat French fries. Little wonder then that French fries with burgers, wraps and soft drinks top the menu at all Fast Food joints.

Many brands sell their French fries along with different dips like cheese, mayonnaise, Sichuan sauce. Some brands even sell flavoured French fries. They have masala fries, salt and pepper fries, Italian spiced french fries, Mexican french fries which are normally served with a tomato salsa.

All that is really yummy yet we would still want to be sure about the quality of food our children eat outside, don’t we? And why not… so let us explore how to make them healthier.

French Fries are something that can be easily prepared at home. Homemade food, as we all know, is anytime better as compared to what our children would get to eat outside. To make French fries at home, the first thing to do is to shop for non starchy potatoes. Non starchy potatoes are also called new potatoes which have less amount of starch as compared to old potatoes. Now you may well ask why we need to use non starchy potatoes to prepare French fries. It is because when the starch is exposed to heat, it breaks down into glucose, which is a form of sugar. Sugar when heated caramelises and turns into golden brown colour. Since the quantity of starch is less in non-starchy potatoes, it takes time for the starch to break down into glucose, and the potatoes do not turn brown very fast and remain crisp.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into even sized fingers. These days you get cutters which give you even sized fingers making your job less laborious. Plunge them in salted boiling water and boil till they are half cooked. Drain them thoroughly and pat dry on a kitchen towel. Once completely cooled, divide them into portions and pack them into separate zip lock bags and freeze. I said pack into separate bags so that whenever you want to use them, you can take out just as many as you want. Do not thaw them, just take them out of the zip lock bags and fry in hot oil. As simple as that but do it in batches, because overcrowding the frying pan with too many fingers at a time, will bring the temperature of the oil down and the fingers will become soggy and limp instead of crispy.

You can make potato wedges too in similar manner: cut the potatoes into wedges, keep the skin intact. Parboil the wedges in salted water. Drain and put them on a kitchen towel to dry off excess water. Roll in seasoned refined flour and freeze for 6-8 hours. Just before serving, take them out of the freezer and deep fry in hot oil. You can even bake the wedges to make them healthier. Nowadays frozen French fries and potato wedges are easily available not only in the supermarkets and even in smaller shops.

100 grams of French fries contain 327 calories and that is quite a bit considering you cannot stop yourself with just that much. However you can have them occasionally without much guilt pangs. Well after gorging on them, run a mile or two more so as to burn off the excess calories consumed.

Well there is some good news for you. These days, air fryers are easily available in the market, which consume 80% less oil as compared to deep frying in the conventional way. All you need to do is brush the food with a little oil, place them a basket that fits into the body of the fryer and adjust the temperature depending on the food you want to cook. The food gets cooked in hot air and hence a boon for the health conscious. I use it frequently and gorge on the supposedly fried goodies without feeling guilty.

Recently while doing a live show, I came up with an innovation. I made fries from sweet potatoes instead of using regular potatoes. I used oil spray to spray a little oil on the fries and baked them in preheated oven till crisp. Tossed them in chaat masala, red chilli powder, some salt and a dash of lemon juice, I served them with great flair and believe me they were super hit.

So learn how to make the basic recipe of fries and then sky is the limit. You can then serve them with a variety of dips and sprinklers and see them disappearing faster than you prepared them. Bingo!

Here are some recipes to get you started!

       French Fries                  Country Style Fries             Baked Potato Wedges


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