Should I buy an air fryer? Why add another gadget in my kitchen? Is air fryer really useful? If yes, how is it useful? What to cook in air fryer? I have microwave convection, then why go for air fryer?
If all these questions are bothering you then this post is for you where I am sharing my experience with my air fryer and all that I cook in it.
Air fryer is my latest love for the past few months. Anything healthy or oil-free I plan to make and air fryer pops up in my mind. And then, I have to give it a try. Most of the time the end result is beautiful. I can’t recollect if it disappointed me anytime. Apart from the fact that it fries without oil what I love about air fryer is that things are done pretty quickly, the texture of air fried dishes is very much similar to that of fried ones. And also because it gives me the freedom to do other things in the kitchen while the air fryer is doing its job. Unlike deep frying, I don’t have to be near the gas stove stirring or flipping the items in the wok.
But initially, it was not the case. I remember for the first six months my air fryer was used occasionally either for air frying frozen items (smileys, kebabs etc) or for air frying paneer (cottage cheese). Paneer gets beautiful golden colour and is apt for adding it to Matar paneer vegetable or Pulao. I even thought to the extent that it was a wasteful expenditure. And then one day while air frying veggies/nuts etc for Biryani, I also tried making Masala Peanuts in it. And wow!!! they came out to be so crisp and crunchy. After that, I tried air frying boiled potatoes for Alloo Chaat and again win-win. I was so happy with the results that then there was no stopping by.
Today, I air fry so many things. In fact, I use it more than my microwave oven and OTG. This is also because that it is very simple to use. It gets preheated in just 3 to 4 minutes and then you are on the go.
Seeing my successful results, I thought of sharing these with you all. So, if your air fryer is also getting neglected or you have deferred buying it as a useless appliance then this post is for you. No no no… please… this is not any promotion post. There is a misconception, maybe because of its name, that air fryer is used only as a substitute for deep frying. But actually, air fryer is versatile and lets you do roasting, grilling, baking and reheating also.
Before we jump into the recipes, one minute! Let us first understand what is an air fryer and how it is different from other similar appliances in the kitchen
WHAT IS AN AIR FRYER?
Air Fryer: In the most simple and short words, air fryer is nothing but countertop convection oven. Yes, very similar to our convection oven yet different in many ways.
Air fryer fries food by circulating hot air around the food. The air inside the air fryer is quickly heated up to 200 degrees C by a powerful stainless steel element. A mechanical fan is there which circulates this hot air around the food at high speed, cooking the food, removing all the moisture and thus making it crispy.
Food is cooked much faster in air fryer as compared to conventional ovens because the capacity of air fryer is much smaller than the conventional ovens.
HOW IS AIR FRYER DIFFERENT FROM A CONVECTION OVEN?
I repeat, air fryer is very similar to our convection oven yet different in many ways. Like Microwave convection, air fryer too works on the principle of air technology. Then how are they different?
Air fryer, being compact and smaller in size, uses rapid air technology. In this, hot air is circulated over the food with very high speed Also, air fryer reaches much higher temperatures as compared to convection oven which in turn shortens the cooking process, as a result, the food doesn’t dry out and thus the healthy nutrients are also preserved. Whereas slow cooking in the oven may result in loss of nutrients.
Unlike convection ovens, it is possible to do the oil-free cooking in air fryer. Its maintenance is much easier than a convection oven. Saves on time as preheating as well cooking is done much faster than a convection oven.
PROS OF AIR FRYER
- Easy maintenance: Unlike Otg or Microwave, it is very easy to clean an air fryer. Food particles do not stick to the air fryer basket/ tray underneath and can be easily wiped with a cloth or washed easily.
- Compact: Requires less space on the kitchen counter. Slightly bigger than a toaster but much smaller than a microwave or an Otg.
- Fast Cooking: It gets preheated very quickly, in just 3 to 4 minutes. In some cases, you can even skip preheating. And thereafter, food is also cooked much faster as compared to Otg. Like for example, a cake is baked in 15 minutes as compared to 35 minutes in Otg. Similarly, my poha namkeen (beaten rice mixture) gets ready in exact 10 minutes including air frying peanuts and then tossing everything with spices.
- Healthier food: That goes without saying. The cooked food is less in calories. No or less oil is used and nutrients are preserved.
- No Radiation: Unlike microwave ovens, air fryers do not use or produce electromagnetic radiation to cook food. You can read in detail about the radiation here.
- Economical: As you are using much less oil or in fact no oil in many cases, you are saving a fortune which otherwise is spent in buying oil.
- Environment-Friendly: Reuse of leftover oil after deep frying is not recommended and that poses a problem of how to get rid of it. If using air fryer then no such issues are there.
- Multi-purpose: This one appliance alone does the job of frying, cooking, roasting, grilling, baking and reheating as well. Yes, Falafel, Popcorn, Cake, French fries, Sweet potatoes…. all are done beautifully in this magical appliance. Normally when we reheat leftover or store-bought patties etc they get soggy but if you do it in air fryer then their crispiness is maintained intact.
CONS OF AIR FRYER
- Small size: You can cook small portions only at a time. How I wish it was slightly bigger!!
- Wet Batters: You cannot use it for air frying food which is dipped in wet batters like bread pakora etc.
AIR FRYER RECIPES
Coming to the uses of air fryer, here I am sharing different uses of air fryer along with some of my recipes with you all. These recipes are just to give you an idea of all what you can do in air fryer. With this, you can start exploring what you can do in your air fryer.
In some cases you need to brush oil on the basket, in others, you toss the ingredients in just a teaspoon of oil, some you lay directly on the basket whereas for others you may spread aluminium foil first and then keep the stuff on it. While laying butter paper/aluminium foil, remember that you do not cover the basket fully. Leave space around the edges so that hot air can move freely.
Let’s see these in detail…
You name it and everybody wants to have it. Right from kiddos to elderlies everyone loves these potato fries. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like french fries. It is one dish where you can’t stop having little. Once you start having it you want more n more. But still, you force yourself to restrict eating it. The reason? of course oil. Though an all time favourite but it is true that it tops the list of junk food. The otherwise healthy potato turns spoilt brat as soon as it jumps into the oil. Once fried they absorb a lot of oil and are thus unhealthy. Definitely, you don’t want to eat this calorie-rich food and thus you give up eating it. But not now. You can have your share of French fries without carrying any guilt. French fries are best made in an air fryer. This alone can tempt you to buy an air fryer.
A very healthy snack made from protein-rich Garbanzo beans or say Chickpeas. But again the nutrients are lost when these are plunged into hot oil. But not any more with air fryer. Keep your healthy Falafels healthy only by air frying them. Check the recipe here.
Koftas made in air fryer are just awesome…as good as fried only. The taste is also very good. For this, you make koftas as you make. But instead of deep frying, air fry them. The method is the same, preheat air fryer for 5 minutes at 180 degrees. Brush the air fryer basket with oil or spray oil. Put koftas and air fry for 20 to 25 minutes. Alternatively, you can brush oil on the koftas only (though I don’t do this, as I m very lazy, but yes flip them just once after a minute so that they do not stick to the air fryer basket). I usually make lauki koftas (bottle gourd dumplings) but you can make Plantains kofta or Malai kofta as well in the air fryer.
A lot of veggies need to be fried before putting them in gravy. Frying changes the taste and texture of these veggies. But with air fryer, you can get away with frying. Cottage cheese (paneer), Jackfruit, plantains are done beautifully in air fryer. Just preheat air fryer for 5 minutes and put veggies in it. Now air fry for as much time as you want the golden colour. Cottage cheese, you can put as it is, that is just cut and air fry but you require to toss jackfruit n plantains in little oil. Like 1 teaspoon oil is sufficient for the half kg of veggies.
Nuts are superbly done in air fryer. You may or may not preheat air fryer for nuts. I require peanuts very often for adding to my poha namkeen. And just in 2 to 3 minutes, I get evenly roasted peanuts. Colour, texture, crunchiness… everything perfect and that too in such a little time. Similarly, you can roast almonds, cashews, fox nuts (makhanas) etc. Timing will vary depending on the nuts and quantity. Like fox nuts shown below took 5 minutes.
Spicy n crunchy peanuts, coated in gram flour batter, masala peanuts is a healthy party snack. You can make these and store in an airtight container up to a month. But do they last that long? Not in my house at least. Can you believe these are made in just 10 minutes? See the recipe here.
Again a very popular party/evening snack. Kalmi Vada is actually made from lentils and is fried at 2 stages. First in patties form, then cut into strips and refried. Here, one frying is inevitable but second frying can be avoided. After cutting the strips, air fry them in preheated air fryer. In the pic below, the ones on the left of the green chutney are air fried whereas the right ones are deep fried. Check the recipe here.
Stuffed veggies are a delicacy on their own. Stuffed capsicum, stuffed tomatoes etc tastes yumm. We normally make these in a pan but make these in air fryer and get away from the process of changing sides for even cooking. Check the recipe here
ROAST POTATOES/SWEET POTATOES
Now, have roasted/grilled potatoes in your breakfast. These are perfectly roasted in the air fryer. Similarly, the sweet potatoes can also be roasted easily. Yes, they are done perfect roasted in Otg also but you can roast these in air fryer as well and the results are excellent. I prefer air fryer to Otg for the same reason that it is handy to use and is preheated in just 5 minutes. After washing the potatoes/sweet potatoes, just pat dry these using a kitchen towel. When you put wet potatoes/sweet potatoes, they give a taste of boiled whereas dry one’s tastes like roasted.
For this preheat air fryer for 3 to 4 minutes at the highest temperature in your air fryer. Keep the washed and wiped potatoes in it. Check after 15 minutes. Normally done by then but if not, then continue for some more time.
Poha namkeen and that too oil free is loved by all. My husband prefers taking it for his after office snacks, on his way back. No matter how much I make this it gets finished in a jiffy. And thus I have to make it some in the morning. But with air fryer, it is very simple and easy as it gets prepared in just 10 minutes, so, why not? Check the recipe here.
Papad cone filled with salad is a very light snack. Free of calories, crunchy papad cones looks classy when served. Yes, I know that papad cone can be made otherwise also, like roast papad and then immediately shape it. Of course, you can do it that way. But I prefer first making the cone and then roasting it. Look at the pics. What do you say now?
Preheat air fryer for 3 minutes at 180 degrees. Put papad cones. Air fry for 2 to 3 minutes. As papads are generally roasted very quickly so will these cones be. Do not leave longer else might get burnt.
Though a fryer but baking is also done perfectly in air fryer. Whatever your recipe is, just follow that and finally at the time of baking, bake it in air fryer. Preheat it for 5 minutes at 160 degrees and then place your cake tin or muffin moulds. Cake takes 15 minutes whereas muffins are done in 10 minutes. Isn’t it cool? While baking cake, ensure to do the toothpick test. This is because, once in a while, the top may look perfectly done whereas underneath it needs more baking. If so, then cover the top with an aluminium foil and continue baking till baked completely.
But there is a problem when baking muffins. Guess what? The problem with the muffins is that you can keep only 4 to 5 at a time.
Similarly, you can bake garlic bread, pav buns etc. The other day, I was making pav buns. I placed the buns on my baking tray and was left with dough for just 2 buns. For these two buns, I would have to run the complete cycle of 20 minutes in Otg again. So, I preheated air fryer, put the buns in muffins moulds and baked in air fryer. And such a lovely bake it was. ‘Cup pav’ looked really cute.
These multigrain crackers are baked beautifully in air fryer. The only problem is that very few are baked at a time.
Check the recipe here.
Air fryer may not be the best thing to make popcorns but I just love making in it as they pop up beautifully in it. I make popcorns using dried corns kernels and not the readymade instant popcorn packet. This is because they are loaded with butter and salt. So, I buy corns, pop them in the air fryer and then season with little oil and salt. Within 5 minutes puffed up popcorns are ready. Whether you preheat air fryer or not, it doesn’t make any difference. If you preheat it then popping starts just after 3 to 4 seconds. If you don’t then popping starts after 6-7 minutes. That’s the only difference. 180 degrees C is perfect for popcorns too. For making these do not put more than 1/4th cup of corn kernels. Only with this much kernels, the basket will be full once all popped up.
You will clearly hear the pop pop sound. When the sound stops, it means they all are puffed up. Once done, take them out in a bowl, drizzle oil/melted butter, sprinkle salt and toss nicely. And your tub of popcorn is ready for munching while you watch your favourite movie. But just one thing. Let me warn you that few popped up corns may go hay way inside the air fryer, either below the drip tray or on the roof of the air fryer and when you next use your air fryer then they come out from somewhere or the other. I don’t take it as a problem because being dry, you can easily remove them. But it’s up to you how you take it. Otherwise no harm to the appliance. Have been making every now n then for the past 6 months.
This is the best use of leftover trimmings of bread. Normally, we dry these trimmings and make bread crumbs. But try this and you will just love it. Store the trimmings in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. Don’t worry, expiry date of bread is there but when it goes in the refrigerator this life is increased considerably.
Now, preheat air fryer for 3 minutes at 180 degrees. Put these trimmings. Air fry for 3 to 4 minutes depending on the quantity. You can even toss once in between. And voila, your super crunchy bread sticks are ready. Serve them with soup or just like that.
So, dear friends, these are some of the ways I use my air fryer. There are many other but since I don’t have the pics I restricted myself from adding here. But soon I will be doing this. Will keep updating this post with my new trials in the air fryer. You too help me in this. Share what all you cook in your air fryer. It will be a nice exchange of ideas. Isn’t it?