• Payal Maharaj

Mum's Tasty Cassava Fries

Today, I am excited to share with you a fusion dish of sorts. This a tasty and dare I say healthy fusion of Indian and Fijian cuisines! As I mentioned before, I grew up in an Indian household in Fiji. Most people don't know that there are Indians living in Fiji and this actually annoyed me quite a bit. Especially after I moved here. People just assumed I was from India. I suppose that is not that completely incorrect. But I am not from India. My great-grandparents were from India and I actually have never been there. I don't even know what part I am from. It was almost like the world didn’t know we existed. But we do exist. Part of me writing this blog is to showcase that fact and also to showcase the unique foods we have evolved into eating and enjoying.

Cassava or cassava root as some folks like to call it is extremely common in Fiji. We grew up eating this. It is a starchy root crop. Cheap, tasty, versatile and filling. I have noticed the popularity of cassava growing here as well and it makes my heart happy. Anyways, cassava is very easy. Typically, we boil it and eat it with some type of cilantro-garlic-based chutney (or with ketchup). It is extremely delicious just like that. You can also add to soups. It pairs well with coconut cream-based dishes. Goes well with Fiji-style barbecues and is a general, healthy everyday snack. I have seen cassava in regular grocery stores in the frozen food section in some places. We typically get it from the Asian grocery store.

Another way to cook it is with Indian spices. This is where the fusion comes in. Basically, you peel and boil the cassava until tender. So you can boil the cassava whole or if you have a particularly lengthy cassava, you can chop them into smaller pieces so they fit in the pot and all the pieces boil in about the same length of time. I would not recommend pre-slicing and boiling as the cassava gets very tender and will most likely fall apart. So boil it in big chunks. Boil until fork-tender. Once boiled, drain water and let cool. When it is cool enough to handle, slice into pieces so they look like steak fries.

Mix all the seasonings in a bowl. Add to cassava slices. Mix well. Make sure the salt levels are correct.

Then heat up some vegetable oil. We fry everything on medium heat. I don't know the exact temperature. I would guess it would be about 350. But do make sure oil is hot enough for frying. Then just fry up the cassava fries in batches until crispy and light golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside. Drain on paper towels.


This makes a great rainy day tea-time snack! Or just an any day snack! Serve hot with some chutneys and a cup of steaming hot chai! Enjoy!


RECIPE:

Serves 4

Prep time 10 mins

Cook time 30 mins

Ingredients:

2 cassava root boiled and sliced

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Salt to taste

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

Vegetable oil for frying

Method:

  1. Peel whole cassava. Chop into big enough pieces that it fits in your boiling pot.

  2. Boil cassava until tender.

  3. Once cool enough to handle, slice cassava lengthwise so that they look like steak fries.

  4. Mix all the seasonings. Add to cassava slices. Mix well. Adjust salt to taste.

  5. Heat up oil on medium heat. Once hot, fry cassava pieces in batches. Fry until crispy on the outside and still soft inside.

  6. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle some more salt.

  7. Serve hot with chutney or sauce of choice.

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