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Let the chips fall where they may.

Byline: Shazia Hasan

KARACHI -- Wavy, curly, straight ... before you think we are talking about hair types and styles let me tell you that these days we can also refer to French fries in the same terms.

French fries are not really French, despite their name. They can also be Pakistani. And they are very much Pakistani with so many stalls or kiosks selling you boxes full in every other street.

Lal Mohammad's French fries' sales keep him so busy at Pakistan Chowk that he can barely find time to talk. Still he does try to hold a conversation while going about his work. He didn't know they were called French fries though. He calls them 'Aaloo ke chips' (potato chips). And his shop's name: Dilpasand Chips.

There are two electric fryers constantly frying the chips as he sprinkles salt and chaat masala on the ones that are done which he tosses up and down in a strainer to let the spices spread evenly. Then putting them in a box he will serve them according to his customer's preference with or without ketchup, mayonnaise or mint chutney.

There are three size boxes Rs20, Rs30 and Rs50 which Lal has on offer. And the fries are plain ones. 'I don't know fancy stuff. I only make plain fries,' he says, showing a plastic tub full of already peeled and chopped potatoes. 'I fry chips in the evening and the day I spend buying potatoes, and peeling and cutting them before soaking them in water to keep them fresh. I won't get time to do all this once I start frying,' he says.

Due to their design wavy fries are crisper than the usual variety.

And what kind of oil does he use for frying? Lal smiles while shaking his head. 'I don't use oil, it is all ghee,' he discloses. 'I am frying so much that the oil will simply get burnt and change colour. Then it would show in the quality of the chips. Ghee is far better for frying,' he says.

When asked why he didn't make the crinkle cut or wavy potato fries, he said that those are specially cut with machines and cost more. 'I only sell the simple and cheaper variety for the masses,' he says.

A favourite with children.

It turns out that the crinkle-cut wavy French fries are not available with any street vendor. But they are available at many fast-food outlets. It is said that the design helps the fries stay crisper for longer. And it is also said that most of the time these are the packaged frozen potato chips that you get in supermarkets.

'That's why they can be slightly costlier than the regular variety,' says the manager at a fast food restaurant in Saddar. 'But they are a favourite with children here,' he says as the waiter prepares another platter of wavy fries to take inside.

'Please pack us two more boxes with extra masala.'

Besides the wavy fries there are also the curly fries that look like onion rings, which are also available mostly at restaurants.

French fries can also be served with flavoured mayonnaise. There is chicken or spicy chicken flavoured, garlic flavoured, cheese flavoured and what not. That's how they have come into their own rather than being placed on one side of a burger or sandwich with coleslaw for garnishing.

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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:May 13, 2018
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