Oven: Baked Chaat Masala French Fries

January 07, 2022

Oven: Baked Chaat Masala French Fries

I NEVER MET A FRENCH FRY I DIDN'T LIKE - now I have one I can eat all the time. That's because these fries are baked instead of deep fried. And, they are baked with delicious, healing Indian spices, making them that much more irresistible and satisfying. Many who don't know Indian spice blends well may recommend your more common blend for fries, but we who are in the know will tell you that one of the tastiest blends paired with potatoes is Chaat Masala
     This masala, or spice mix, is prevalent in North Indian street food and is used most on snack items and potatoes because of its combined earthy and tart flavor profile. The blend we sell on my website and many retailers in the Midwest is from my own recipe. It is roasted first and then ground in small batches in America. 
     With the extra spices, these potatoes are actually even better than the fries you buy. My teenage girls would agree. Their bar for taste is pretty high. Yes, I've created monsters over here. 
     A few things I've learned that help with baked fries: Always soak your potatoes in frigid (add ice cubes) water for at least 30 minutes. This pulls out the starch and helps you crisp up your fries rather than ending up with a gummy mess. Also, don't overcook them. Some recipes call for 5 to 10 extra minutes more than my recipe, but I think that takes away from the flavor and the inner soft texture. Try it both ways and see what you prefer.
     If you don't care for white potatoes, no worries, try this recipe with sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, butternut squash. Whatever floats your boat. And remember, if you scrub your potatoes or veggies down with a scrub brush there is no need to get rid of that skin. I keep it on for added fiber and nutrition. Though, I will peel it from my sweet potatoes, as the skin is tougher.

Baked Chaat Masala Fries

3 large Russet potatoes
1 teaspoon chaat masala 
1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon paprika (unsmoked)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons avocado oil *

1. Position your oven rack on the second-from-the-top position and preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Slice the potatoes. You can use any kind, but Russet works best. It's your classic french-fry potato for a reason. Slice your potatoes lengthwise three times - each slice is about 1/4-inch thick. You will have four pieces. Then, slice those pieces lengthwise three times, so that you have 4 strips (about 5 1/2-inches long) that look like classic french fries. Keep the peel - you won't even notice it at the end and it looks pretty and adds fiber and nutrition. 

3. Put these sliced pieces in a large bowl filled with water and ice cubes. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes. Then, drain, rinse with fresh water, and dry well. It's important to dry them so that they crisp up when cooking. I use a dishcloth and dry them a few fries at a time. The time spent on this step is well worth it. 

4. In a small bowl, add the chaat masala, coriander, turmeric, paprika, garlic, and salt. Stir. 

5. Place the potato slices in a roomy bowl. Pour the oil over them and stir with your hand until all the pieces are covered in oil. Add 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture. Stir again with your hand until the potato slices are coated. Reserve another 1 teaspoon of the spice mixture for later - save any leftover in a jar for later or to add into your dip or ketchup. This mix can also be used for any protein or vegetable for added flavor, including as a rub on fish. 

6. Line a 17 1/2-inch by 13-inch baking tray with parchment paper. Transfer the spiced potato slices from the bowl to the baking tray. Make sure they do not touch for a more even cooking. 

7. Place the tray in the oven for 30 minutes. No need to flip in between. 

8. Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees and cook another 7 minutes so the fries crisp up. Again, no need to flip. 

9. Pull the tray out and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the spice blend over the fries. Serve with ketchup or smoked paprika mayo (1 cup mayo - dairy or non - 2 teaspoons smoked paprika - 2 teaspoons lemon juice - 1 teaspoon salt). OR for a different take, try it with our Tamarind Chutney

Last step? Make another batch. This one - I'm sure - is already gone. 

 * The oil you use is up to you, but try to go for a high smoke-point oil. I like avocado oil because it's a high-smoke point oil that also works well on fries. Grape seed, canola, and other vegetable oils are good as well. You can certainly use an olive oil that you know can cook at high temperatures. 

Prep Tip: A great way to make fries without any fuss at all? Slice them up as indicated above, and then store them in containers covered completely in cold water. They will keep for several days in the fridge. Just pull them out, drain them, rinse, dry, and follow the remainder of the recipe above. 


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