Air Fryer: Hand Molded Chaat Masala Tater Tots

January 09, 2024

Air Fryer: Hand Molded Chaat Masala Tater Tots

TATER TOTS GOT ME THROUGH MY INDIAN AMERICAN CHILDHOOD! I was a latchkey kid. If you've never heard this term, it's what we called kids whose came home to an empty house after school. The reality was, we were immigrants settled in King of Prussia, PA and my parents had to work. So, every afternoon post trudging home from school, I would let myself and my younger brother into our locked and empty home. I have to gulp back emotions a touch as I write this. It was fine back then - almost fun to have a house to yourself. But, now I think about how incredibly lonely it was to have no snack and nobody to tell you ... well, anything. Tater tots got me through many afternoons. Easy and always comforting, I'd grab a bunch from the freezer and cook them up for me and my brother. They were especially delicious when they came with the Hungry Man frozen dinner that my mom only allowed us to consider on Fridays. She always had Indian meals for dinner and worked hard to make sure we ate healthy, but for post-school snacks we were usually on our own. This is likely why I worked so incredibly hard to create a career where I could be there for my girls when they came home AND get them something fun and warm to snack on before heading to their rooms to do homework. And, might I add ... my girls often complained that they would have loved some afternoons on their own away from their pushy mom. I guess as parents, we can never win! 

One thing I learned about making tots through my research is that the potato consistency does matter. For the best results, parboil your potato. It should be just shy of totally soft and mushy. While we wanted that really soft consistency for my Aloo ki Tikki recipe, for tater tots we want the potato to be slightly harder. So, boil it 10 minutes instead of 15. And, while with the Tikki recipe I mashed the potato for a softer, fluffier consistency, for a tater tot you want to grate the potato with a box grater. I also saw recipes that added a tablespoon of flour for binding. I tried adding chickpea flour in one batch, but in the end did not feel like any flour was needed. The potato still binds without the flour, though if you want to give it a try, add 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of any flour (all purpose, quinoa, chickpea, etc.) The recipe below uses our chaat masala spice blend, but feel free to sub it with the same amount of ground black pepper, which is simple and gives you a more classic tater tot taste profile. I tell you, I am a connoisseur of tater tots. XOXO ANUPY

Air Fryer: Chaat Masala Tater Tots
Makes 16 tots

1 medium Russet potato (about 5-inches long), washed and scrubbed clean
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala or ground black pepper
spray oil

1. Make a few slits in the potato, place it in boiling water, and cook for 10 minutes. While some recipes instruct you to peel the potato first and then boil, I keep the peel on and then take it off after the potato is boiled and cools. This prevents the potato from also getting water logged. 

2. With the large-hole size of a box grater, grate the potato. In one recipe they instruct at this point to place the grated potato in a dishcloth to squeeze out any excess water. I didn't feel that I needed to do this I think because I boiled it with the skin on. If you feel like there is too much moisture you can add this step. 

3. Add the salt and chaat masala or ground black pepper and stir well. 

4. With a tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop out the mixture and hand-mold it into balls the shape of tater-tots. It helps to squeeze them hard in one hand a few times and then mold them. Lay the tots out on a tray and spray them lightly with oil. 

5. Transfer the them into the basket of your air fryer, with the oil-sprayed side down touching the basket. Then, lightly spray the top with oil. 

6. Cook them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, shaking the basket in between to loosen them up and make sure they don't stick. Cook until they are brown and crispy. Serve with a side of ketchup and/or our tamarind chutney


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