Biyebarir Jhuri Alu Bhaja (Bengali Crisp fried Julienne potatoes)

11:50 AM

When my kids were small every time someone came with an wedding invitation I invariably ended up enquiring whether the menu is Bengali. You might find it queer, but not for a mother of toddlers. Attending invitations with small kids is extremely difficult. First, you need to remember and pack their things for the entire evening and then you have to be on your toes to run after them around the venue. Come dinner time, it would become more difficult. They won't be able to handle the spicy food so you need to feed them home-cooked food at some quiet corner, which, in a crowded wedding is next to impossible. 

But with Bengali weddings, things are a little easier. Most functions have a Bengali menu with a dal and some fries, which kids can eat easily. and seating along with others for a meal diverts their attention enough to feed them hasslefree. 

These crispy fried potato straws or juliennes have saved me on many such nights along with some Muger dal and Fish fry. My son loved this meal then and loves it now. So is the little girl. They squeak with joy every time I make it and that was my bait to make this Nababarsho special.

This Nababarsho, under lockdown for Covid 19 we did not have any new cloth or any puja at home.  We just sat down together for a simple Bengali meal. The meat was only enough for the four of us, something I saved from last month. The sewai in the payes is handmade as I did not have any fragrant rice. But we enjoyed the meal and felt hopeful that this auspicious day will really bring something good with it.

Jhuri Alu bhaja
(serves 4)

Potatoes- 3 medium (* please see notes)
Curry leaves: 3 sprigs
Peanuts: 1/4 cup
Papad: 2
Mustard/ white oil for frying : I use mustard oil for frying
Dry red chilies: 2

Black salt
Red chili powder

Peel the potatoes and using a mandolin or kitchen queen slice then in roundels. You can do this by hand too but these needs to be thin.
Once one potato is sliced, bunch up 5-6 slices and using a sharp knife cut them as thin as possible. Immediately put them in a big bowl of water. Repeat with the other potatoes.

Once all the potatoes are julienned, wash them in 3-4 changing of water. Wash so well that the water runs clear. Now pour enough cold water on the potatoes and let it sit for 15 minutes.
Drain the water well and spread the potatoes on a clean tea towel. Cover with another piece of cloth and let them dry out as much as possible.

Heat enough oil for deep frying.
I prefer mustard oil and a smaller sized kadhai.
Heat it on medium heat and once the oil is hot, divide the papad in quarters and deep fry till golden and puffed up. With a slotted spoon or mesh deep-frying strainer Remove them from the oil.
Put the peanuts and fry them on medium (a minute or so) till the colour changes to a deeper shade. Take them out and place them on a bowl.
Similarly, fry the sprigs of curry leaves for 30 seconds or till the leaves turn transparent and crisp. Be careful these leaves will splatter a lot of oil.
Fry the chilies and keep aside.

Now place just a handful of potato matchsticks and fry on medium heat. Do not crowd the pan with too much potatoes. It would bubble a lot in the beginning, mix them with the wire spoon carefully. Keep frying for some more time and you will see the bubbles will start to subside a lot. Increase the heat a little and fry till the edges start to brown. Take them out and place them on tissue paper/ kitchen towel. 
Repeat with the next batch.

Once all are fried, Mix everything together. Sprinkle some salt, black salt and chili powder on it and lightly shake and mix.
Serve with rice and dal.

A Homemaker's Notes:
  1. I prefer to use Chandramukhi potatoes, Which has less starch and yields very crispy fries.
  2. To save any leftover cool this to room temperature. Save in airtight container for upto a week.

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