Danger Sev

I started three little fires while making this.

The rule from now on is that sev is made in the deep fryer ONLY, never in a pan on the stove which can too easily boil over. It’s amazing nobody went to the hospital.

I now have far less baking soda than I did last week.

Sev, fried noodles made from chickpea flour, are an essential part of chaat (Indian street food) dishes like bhel puri, a mix of it, chopped onions, tomatoes, cilantro, puffed rice and spices. I never get around to making bhel puri; I eat sev like potato chips. It’s also great on top of salads to add crunch, or on top of soup, especially very spicy lentil soup.

In order to make this, you really need a sev machine, which is something like the child of a cookie press and a potato ricer, but not entirely like either.

You can also buy sev, but I can’t find that brand (my favorite) here in Fresno, and besides, there’s a far slimmer chance of setting your kitchen ablaze and getting to douse it with a liberal sprinkling of baking soda (it never fails to amaze me how well that works) when opening a bag of snacks.

Here’s someone who has clearly mastered the technique; a wide, deep pot (like the karhai shown) being essential.

(While I was writing this, I found this fascinating antique wooden sev press for sale; if anyone has a spare grand around, I’d love to have it in my home.)

2 1/4 c. chickpea flour (besan)
1/2 T. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. turmeric
1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 t. lemon juice
3/4 c. water

oil for deep frying

Using a whisk, blend the chickpea flour, salt, cayenne pepper and turmeric together in a mixing bowl. Add the oil and lemon juice to the water and pour into the flour mixture. Mix into a thick paste, adding additional flour as necessary so that the mixture is not sticky; it should resemble the texture of mashed potatoes. Place in a sev macine or potato ricer.

Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil over moderate heat to 345 degrees F. Holding the sev machine or potato ricer over the hot oil, press ribbons of the mixture into the hot oil, slowly moving the machine around the oil so the noodles don’t clump together.

Fry 30 seconds for slightly soft but crunchy sev; fry 90 seconds for very crispy, crunchy sev (like chow mein noodles). Remove with a slotted spoon, fry basket or spider and drain on paper towels, allowing to cool. If necessary, break into smaller pieces when cool. Place in an airtight container; keeps for a couple weeks.

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