Deep-frying

Deep-frying

By
From
Spice Kitchen
Photographer
Jana Liebenstein

In India a karahi (Indian wok) is used for deep-frying, but a Chinese wok is a good alternative. The wok shape means that less oil is needed, compared with a saucepan. However, the rounded bottom of these woks is only safe to use on a gas stovetop. Special woks are available to use on induction stovetops and are very efficient. If you don’t have a suitable wok you can use an electric deep-fryer.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Use any oil without a pronounced flavour, but that has a high smoke point, so that the oil can be heated to high temperatures without burning, spitting or giving off noxious fumes, and the food won’t take on the particular flavour of the oil.
  2. Different foods are deep-fried at different temperatures – the temperature of the oil can range from 160°C to 210°C, depending on the item being cooked. For example, a samosa is deep-fried in oil heated to a medium heat (180°C) so the pastry cooks while the filling inside is only heated through. On the other hand, a crumbed vegetable patty needs the oil to be at a high heat to cook all the way through. Breads such as pooris also need oil at a high heat (200–210°C) to make them puff out, and are fried for a very short time only – about 40–60 seconds. A thicker bread, such as a bhatura, needs slightly less heat (190–200°C) and is fried for longer – about 2 minutes – as it needs extra time to cook.
  3. You can check that the oil has reached the correct temperature with a kitchen thermometer. Alternatively, drop 1 teaspoon of pastry, dough or batter in the oil. If it rises immediately to the surface, the oil is ready. If it settles at the bottom, the oil is not hot enough and the cooked food will be greasy. If the batter turns black, it is very hot and suitable for deep-frying breads but would burn very small items.
  4. Avoid the temptation to fry too many items at once as this lowers the temperature of the oil and makes the food greasy. To avoid being splashed with hot oil, don’t drop the items to be cooked in from a height. Instead, always put them on a slotted spoon or frying spoon, position the spoon as close as possible to the hot oil (being careful not to burn yourself) and let them slide in gently.
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