Publicized as the new, guilt-free way of enjoying your favourite fried snacks, an air fryer is cruising the popularity charts when we talk of nifty kitchen appliances. But what is an air fryer? How does it work? And the most burning question of all: is it really oil-free?
What is an air fryer?
A compact, countertop convection oven equipped with an in-built fan and exhaust that circulates hot air around the food to convert moisture into mist that eventually produces a crispy, caramelized brown exterior – all this without the use of oil. At best, you can slather on a teaspoon of oil. Compare that to completely submerging frozen fries in it. That is a fraction of oil.
While waiting for oil to boil in the kadaai is the first headache, stirring and flipping till you see the tell-tale golden-brown skin is another. Scenario 2: plug in your air fryer, set the temperature and wait till the aroma wafts the room.
The compressed space in an air fryer means faster cooking. How many times have you returned from office scavenging your kitchen for ready-to-eats in a bid to avoid turning on the stove? Now devour as many ready-to-eats without the oily baggage of guilt.
What can you make with an air fryer?
Think stir fry vegetables, roasted chicken, samosas and fries. Basically, anything that would require you to open an oven to grill or fry on a stove. Anything with a liquid batter (unless frozen) is not air-fry friendly. But while oil-less roasted chicken tastes delicious, you will want to brush a teaspoon of oil with your fries and samosas if you want that perfect, crunchy texture.
Air fryers don’t just stop at duplicating typical fried junk food (sans oil), a batch of warm gooey cookies is a 15 minute effort. Pretty much anything that requires only heat to do the job.
Know that although cooking is significantly quick in an air-fryer, you will have to fry food in batches if it’s for a larger gathering, because space is a constraint.
Do you need one?
If you are a fast-food junkie, then you may as well buy one to save yourself from guilt trips and needless to mention, cholesterol and weight gain, too. But if don’t normally eat deep-fried food, the investment may not seem lucrative.