A little taster of what's cooking...
We’re always looking for something to munch on Saturday nights – dinner is prepared and cooked at a leisurely pace in between glasses of wine, while we all catch up on what’s been happening to us all during the week. The evening usually ends up with us all of the sofa, watching a film or something on TV, with a big bowl of home made sweet or salty popcorn.
On Friday, we ventured into the new snack territory of Sev and now we’re all convinced that no other snack will ever do! (Although, we did have to turn the volume up quite a bit, so that we could hear what was going on over loud crunching!) We’d eaten Sev before, you can buy it in bags from Asian shops, but it hadn’t really made a huge impression on me. I was talking snacks with my Gujarati friend (Gujarati’s are experts in the savoury snack field, to my way of thinking) who said that I should try a freshly cooked batch of Sev, instead of popcorn. She promised that there’d be no going back once I’d tried it. I did some recipe research and decided to give it a go. It’s one of those recipes that you can barely believe: can 2 spuds and some chickpea flour really taste that good?
It was so supremely wonderful, that I have to share the recipe with everyone so that you can all see what I mean! It’s spicy (or not, if you don’t like spicy things), crunchy potato, salty – everything you want in a savoury snack!
Ok, it’s not exactly a health food – but it’s gluten free, suitable for vegans and kids love it too. I fried it in rapeseed oil, to try and convince myself that we were all getting lots of essential fatty acids in a fun way! It will also last for at least a couple of weeks if you put it in an air proof container (and hide it), although I haven’t tried this out as there’s never any left over!
You can only make this snack if you have either a special sev making machine or (which you can pick up from an asian store for a few quid) a potato ricer (which you can pick up at Morrisons for £4).
A potato ricer is like a huge garlic press which you use in the same way, but with cooked potatoes, making them completely lump free for mash, gnocchi etc. The potato that it produces looks like grains of rice. You can put the ‘riced’ potato straight on top of Cottage/Shepherds/Fish Pie with a few blobs of butter and some cheese over the top of it before baking in the oven, to make the topping extra crunchy. Everyone needs a potato ricer in their lives.
You’ll also need to buy a bag of Chickpea flour (also known as Gram flour). You can buy a small bag in Asian shops for around 70p. Normal flour can’t be substituted.
Boil 2 medium sized potatoes in their skins until cooked through. Peel them while they’re still hot so that the skins come off easily – I hold them with a fork so I don’t burn my fingers! While they’re still hot, put each one through the potato ricer and leave in a bowl to cool completely.
When the potato has cooled, gauge roughly how many cups of potato you’ve got by patting it into any cup/mug you have to hand, so that you know how much Gram flour to add. You’re going to need roughly half to three quarters of the potato that you’ve measured, of flour. I had 2 small mugs of potato and so I used 1 mug and a bit more of chickpea flour. Don’t worry about being exact.
Put the potato back in the bowl and add: a big pinch of turmeric, 1 dessertspoon of lemon/lime juice (fresh or bottled), 1 tsp sugar, 1tsp salt (you may need a little more, taste it at the end), chilli powder (or cayenne pepper), you can use paprika if you don’t like heat, or don’t put either in. I put a heaped half teaspoon of chilli powder in mine and it was moderately spicy, so add less or more to your taste.
Get your hand in there and mix everything together really well.
Still using your hand, put half a mug of chickpea flour into the potato mixture and combine it thoroughly. Continue to add flour until you have a dough that isn’t too sticky. The amount you use will depend on how much moisture was in your cooked potato. At this point, taste a bit of the dough, it should taste savoury/salty. Add more salt if you think you need to and more chilli powder if you want to turn the heat up. If adding salt and chilli powder now, you’ll need to knead the dough thoroughly to combine it.
Heat some oil in a wok/deep medium sized pan over a medium heat. You’ll need around 5cm oil. When you can put a cube of bread in the oil and it takes around 30 seconds to turn golden, the heat is right.
Put a large satsuma sized piece of the dough into the potato ricer and hold it over the hot oil. BE CAREFUL AROUND HOT OIL. Press the handle of the ricer down over the hot oil, so that the bottom of the strands of dough start to fall into the oil. Keep a knife handy, so that you can scrape the strands off, as they’ll cling to the ricer.
Keep the heat at medium, making sure that the oil is bubbling gently around the cooking sev (like in the picture). After a minute, turn the sev over to cook the other side. Fry for another 1-2 minutes until the Sev is light golden and crisp. It will crisp up more when you take it out of the oil. Don’t let it get too dark in colour.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the cooked Sev and leave to drain on kitchen paper while you cook the rest in different batches until all of the dough is used up. Obviously at this point, the cook’s perk is to have the first taste (just don’t eat it all before anyone else gets to taste it).
I had some raw peanuts to use up, so I fried some of those at the end too, to add to the mixture.
To make it look authentically Indian, make cones out of newspaper and stuff each one full of sev to hand out to everyone.
Enjoy! You. Are going to be SO popular.