My review of Philips Air Fryer and recipe for Onion Pakoda

When I first heard the term 'air fryer' over a year ago, I actually laughed out loud, full of skepticism. Can one actually fry in air?? But, the term is slightly misleading. It is built like a small oven, that quickly bakes things to a crisp, giving it a fried feel, both to look at and to taste. It wouldn't be wrong to call it an oven on steroids, given its performance. 

There are plenty of reviews all over the internet, so I am going to focus on some questions my blog followers asked me on Facebook and of course the results of my experiments, cooking a variety of things in this machine.

The last couple of weeks have seen full blown sales on many of the popular online stores, and the air fryers were on sale as well, leading to people frantically asking around, "Should I buy it? Is it worth it?". It's never too easy to decide on adding one more appliance to the kitchen counter when the counter real estate is way too precious and needs to be justified.

Does it occupy too much space?

It's reasonably a small machine, occupying roughly 3/4th the space of a small microwave or so, but it is quite heavy so you cannot keep it on top of a microwave or oven. Mounting it on a higher shelf is also difficult as you need to be able to easily remove the basket, shake up the contents and put it back while it is air frying. Also, if you need to use it on a regular basis, it is pointless storing it away inside one of the cabinets, because then it becomes really cumbersome to pull out and use. So you need to make sure you have a small dry spot on your kitchen counter with access to a power source.

Does it cause nutrient loss?
When vegetables are cooked at high temperatures, there is a loss of heat labile vitamins. But when you consider the same vegetables being fried in oil at temperatures around 175-190°C, it will cause the same loss of vitamins and nutrients, plus not to mention adding hundreds of calories from the oil itself. Also heating oil to smoking point while making deep fried food also releases chemicals harmful to health in the long run, not to mention the health hazards of reheating the same oil to fry. Give that the cooking period is very short, rarely over 10-15 minutes, it is a safer bet than prolonged cooking on high heat in stove top. 

French fries made in Philips Air Fryer

The verdict on Fries
To most people, the air fryer is associated with fries. Especially parents with young kids, the fries are a big draw, especially when we don't want to take them to a certain fast food chain, to get them a highly processed meal. Let me tell you a secret, i have never ever made fries at home, of the deep fried variety, that is. But did i like the air fryer effect? You bet I did. I used fresh potatoes, and not the frozen sticks variety. Peeled, and cut into sticks, soaked in salted water (this is to get the excess starch out), dried them thoroughly on a towel, tossed in 1 tsp oil per potato, and then put them in the preheated air fryer for 10 minutes. Sprinkle of salt when they are out, the result was magic. Golden and crunchy on the outside and soft inside, I for one, felt they were as good as the fast food outlet variety, but made straight from a potato and not from something sitting in the deep freezer for ages. I haven't tried wedges, potato skins etc. but I do mean to keep trying newer recipes, which you can catch on my Facebook or Twitter. Hear the crunch of the fries in this Instagram Video.

What can I use this for besides fries?

Crispy veggies: I tried making crispy karela (bittergourd) with good success, so I am quite sure other veggies like Bhindi (okra), Tendli (Ivy gourd) can be used similarly to get crispy results with just 1-2 tsp of oil. 

My experience: I parboiled some of the homegrown small karelas in salted water. Drained them and throughly dried on a towel. Cut into long slices after discarding seeds, tossed in spices (except salt) and a little gram flour, put in a single layer in the basket in a preheated airfryer. In around 10 minutes, they were done to a crisp. I was very happy with the end result in this case.

Karela chips airfryer recipe, bittergourd chips, crispy bittergourd, airfryer recipe
Karela chips / Crispy Bittergourd

Updated on 13 July, 2015:

Recipe for Karela chips in Airfryer

Seppankizhangu Roast made in Philips Air Fryer

Potato and other starchy veggies: You can make the typical Tambrahm potato / colocassia (seppankizhangu) / vazhakka (plantain) crispy roast by par boiling, dicing, coating in spices and 1 tsp oil and then air frying to a crisp texture.
My experience: I tried the colocassia roast. Boiled and peeled colocassia cut into a dice, tossed in spices, bit of rice flour and salt, in the air fryer for 10 minutes with a couple of tosses at regular intervals. Quite happy with the result here. For a traditional touch, you can do a tadka of curry leaves, red chillies, udad dal in oil after removing from the air fryer into a bowl.

Roasting veggies for pasta or salad: Eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini etc can be tossed in some olive oil, garlic and herbs and roasted in this to perfection, and then tossed in a pasta or a salad.
My Experience: Tossed eggplant and zucchini in oil with garlic and herbs (no salt, as this will leach out all the water and make it soggy), and put in air fryer for 5-7 minutes as you just want them roasted and not crisp. Used it as a sandwich filling with a pesto spread, it turned out delicious.

Pizza made in Philips Air Fryer

Breads: Since this is like a smaller oven, that heats up very quickly,  a variety of breads can be baked in the airfryer.

Calzone made in Philips Air Fryer

My experience: I tried both pizza and calzone from scratch and got fantastic results. Here's where it scores over a regular oven. It goes from room temperature to 200 C in less than 4 minutes and the pizza is done in 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness, as against 25 minutes or so in the oven. 

The size being a restriction, you can only make small sized personal pizzas in this, but the advantage is each can have their own topping and it is ready in 5 minutes. You can also use readymade pizza base. {this also answers the question, how is the air fryer better than an oven, asked by a few people}

Pakodas: My experience - A very thin drippy batter pakoda will not work in this, but anything coated with a dryer batter works. But I found the results to be around 75% of the fried taste and texture. May be the next time, I shall try with lesser thickness, so it crisps up further. If you will be using the pakodas for kadhi or some other recipe, then it will work very well.

Cakes and muffins: You can remove the basket and keep individuals cakes / muffins in the lower compartment. Preheat to the required temperature, which is very quick and then bake for the time given in the recipe. I haven't tried this feature yet, but have seen a few videos in which the results seems comparable to that of an oven.

Papads: My experience - I realised that papads don't work in this. I coated papad with a thin layer of oil and kept in preheated airfryer, while checking in 30 second, it was no longer in the basket. It had flown up, due to the air blast and gotten stuck to the heating coils, getting nearly burnt. Because of the high volume of hot air blasted, anything as light as a papad cannot stay put in the basket and therefore not possible to air-fry that. 

Is it difficult to clean?
It's quite easy to keep it clean. When using wetter food, line the basket with foil or parchment, but taking care that the edges are open for air flow. For dry stuff like fries this is not required. Both the wire basket and the metal basket containing it can be removed and washed with gentle detergent or in dish washer. The wire mesh in basket can be scrubbed using a small brush to unclog food from the gaps.

It's great if you need to provide constant snacks for your growing kids, this appliance does make it easy to alternate between fresh fruits, veggies and the 'fried' fun stuff. One does need to remember however that just because it is air fried, you cannot have a bucket of fries and then expect not to gain weight. It is a good substitute for the occasional fried foods, but eating larger portions because it is not deep fried in oil, is quite the losing proposition. Otherwise, it is a fun gadget to have around and you can experiment with different recipes on your own as you get used to it. The gadget does come with a recipe booklet with many Indian recipes included. 


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Onion Pakodas made in Philips Air Fryer

Philips Air Fryer Recipe for Onion Pakoda (Bajji) 

1 cup besan (gram flour)
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp of crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp of kasoori methi
1 tsp red chilli powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Finely chopped coriander leaves, optional

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients well and leave it covered for 5 minutes. The onions will release some of the moisture due to the salt, use that to bring it together into a dough, using a few sprinkles of water as required. Don't make it too wet or it may not crisp up.
Make bite sized pakodas by pressing it into logs in your slightly oiled palm.

Preheat the air fryer at 200 C by turning the timer to 5 minutes, but the machine is preheated when the indicator light goes off.

Place a sheet of parchment or lightly oiled aluminium foil on the basket, but leaving some part of the edge open. This is optional, but just makes the cleaning easier. Place pakodas in a single layer and air fry for 5 minutes. After this, you can remove the basket, turn them around to the other side or give it a shake and keep for 5 more minutes, until all sides are golden brown. 

Serve immediately with green chutney / tamarind chutney or ketchup. You can also use these to make Pakoda Kadhi or in a Moar Kozhambu.

Click the box above, to check out and buy the Philips Air Fryer! Your purchase on Amazon will help support the blog. It does make a lovely festive gift :)

Verdict: The colour turned beautifully golden, and it had a crunch on the outside. The inside of the pakoda was well cooked. But I guess the highlight of the pakoda is the juiciness that comes from deep frying and this will take some getting used to, otherwise for the 2 tsp oil used, it was really delicious! 

Disclaimer: Philips supplied the appliance for review on the blog, but the experience and review is completely unbiased and honest.

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