Airfryer and Indian Cooking

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Sujatha R
11 min readJul 31, 2020

Instagram: Sujatha’s Air Fryer Experiments

From firewood to gas stoves, microwaves and Instapot, we have come a long way in cooking technologies. The lockdown inspired me to explore and deep dive into cooking. The Airfryer has been existing for a long time but it caught my curiosity only now. In my personal circle NOT one person recommended it.. “YouTubers paradise.. I am going to junk mine.. Only for frozen food.. not for vegetarian food.. you could roast nuts for sure” came the reply. I did not want to waste the precious kitchen space with an unused device.

And yet I was fascinated. It was a new technology. Unless I experiment, how could I claim its worthiness. I made a kind of diversity test plan and exhaustive usecases it would serve for me before deciding to buy. A summer adventure had begun.

How does an Air Fryer Work?

We all love deep frying for the crunch that it provides. What happens behind the scenes? A vortex of hot oil rubs and penetrates inot the food surface from all directions.. This causes the water to dry and forms a crispy crust. The inner layers get cooked.

In a similar manner, hot air, hot sand and hot salt are other mediums for surround roasting like the street side groundnut vendor roasting them in the sand.

The air fryer has an heating element fan over the cooking chamber and a perforated basket at the bottom allowing the air to uniformly circulate and cook the food.

The Airfryer Advantage

Apart from the drastic reduction of oil, there are so many other advantages. No more clothes and kitchen smelling of oil.. No more wasting of used oil.. No more ripping up of the patties and bondas in oil. No more explosions due to that tiny udal dal in the wada or the groundnut chunk in the saboo ball..

A versatile device that boosts the confidence of a novice ready to explore new cooking.

A word of Caution

Paper, Oil and flaky food are all fuel for combustion. In some models, papads and poha seem to be flying and burning. Do not make papads and poha unattended. Do not put excess of oil. Trim excess paper that is uncovered by food. Food like Brinjal, Jack Fruit seeds can pop like an explosion and hit the heating coil. Make cuts so that the pressure does not develop.

Reminder

I am a newbie who is excited about experimenting Airfryer. This is my first month. Food like Pakoda looks well but does not seem to be cooked well in my case. And on the health Pros and Cons I have not researched. Steel is always a good bet. And if you can do it in Oven or Griddle, do not over use Air Fryer unless there is an advantage.

Cooking Considerations and Tips

Preheating is necessary for most of the cooking. Think of oil being heated and dosa tawa being hot before making wadas and dosas. For roasting nuts and dals like functionality, preheating is not necessary.

Well, the airfryer penetration is inferior compared to Oil. And Oil provides the moisture and taste needed for cooking. Let us understand this and start the adventure. All that glitter is not Gold. Pictures can be misleading and undercooked food is the last thing we want.

Like a Food scientist, let us understand the genres of cooking that can benefit from Airfrying. A bit of recipe modification is needed to get the best results. Either steaming the flours for snacks, changing the pakoda batter flour for better consistency or incorporating more moisture and baking powder for jamoons, kofta and falafels are some of the tips. I have provided recipes or links to recipes in the Instagram feed.

Yes Master.. What can I do?

Based on my month long experiments with my InstaVortex 6 quart Airfryer.

ROASTING & WARMING

1) Roasting groundnuts, cashews, overnight soaked dals and is variants

2) Crispy Papads- The thick udat dal appalams and papads come out really well. Wash them in water and pat dry. This provides moisture and increases the density. I break them into halves or quarters so that they have space to expand inside and then brush some oil.

Exercise caution while making as these fly and burn in some models.

3) Spices and Instant Mixes -Chilli powder can be made in a jiffy with crispy red chillies. Instant Poha mix is made with airfryed thick poha.

4) Roasting Dals & other grocery -enhances flavour, increasing shelf life and aids digestion

5) Removing Excess Oil -Store bought snacks like boondhi when Airfryed, the excess oil is seperated due to the vortex of air like in an centrifuge. I converted the Haldirams Boondhi to Kaara Boondhi mixture by heating in the Air Fryer.

6) Food Warmer.. Roasted veggies, Samosas, Patties.. Anything that does not need microwave energy, I am motivated to try.

LONG LASTING DRY SNACKS
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) Chegodi rings, Nippatlu discs -The trick lies in steam cooking the flours before preparing them.

9) Guilt free Banana & Beet chips- Serves as a great tea time snack and it is a treat to have them in AirFryer. There was variability though and not very scalable.

8) Pani Poori shells, Chaat cups, Matri, Pita Chips As the shells are thin, these come out well.

10) Making Chivda with Poha is a breeze. Provided the flakes do not fly.

SNACKS & SAVORIES

11) Anything Potato - Fries, Wedges and Tikkis -Potatoes are the easiest veetable to roast. They have the starch and the moisture needed.

10) Pakodas, Bondas, Bhajjis, Manchurian -Trick lies in making the batter -adding rava, almond flour or oat flour for the crunch, lightness and making it non dripping.. Make the pakodas like a crumble with less batter. Making them on a parchment paper to avoid the spills. Initial heating in high temperature to form the binding quickly.

Stuffed capsicums and Mushrooms come out great too.

11) Saboo, Dalia & Rice Patties -All of these are rich in moisture and along with veggies and potatoes are perfect for the tikkis. For Saboo balls, I made them small and round. This way I could accomodate the dough in one batch and makes rolling easier.

12) Falafels & Masala Wadas -Making the mix a bit crumbly, moist, refrigeration for the binding and a dash of baking powder for internal fluff and cooking helps.

13) Wadas & Idlis

Wadas can be steamed in an idli plate and airfryed. Or made small sized.

Note this.. At no extra cost, left over idlis and rava-idlis can be air fryed to look like crispy wadas. Can be enjoyed with Sambaar or made as quick healthy Dahi Wadas. Crispy podi Idli, UPma MAde LIke BAlls ANd CRisPed is another idea.

Conventional Paniyarams take a long time to make and only one side gets the crust. For making large batches, Semi cooked Paniyarams can be AirFryed to reduce cooking time and get the crust on the other side.

CURRIES

14) In Speciality dishes like Stuff Karela, Bhindi Kurkure, Coconut Garlic Bhindi, Cooking complexity, time to cook and oil is drastically reduced with Airfryer. I have provided my pitfalls in first attempt and tips to beat them.

15) Lauki & Malai Kofta Balls is a breeze. No more spills and less oil.

16) It is a breeze to make crispy onions for biriyani, crispy veggies for pizza and biriyani and crispy potatoes. These can be used with koftas, biriyanis, fish curry etc. Brinjal circles, boiled drumsticks-cauliflower florets-raw banana covered with rice flour etc are other options. The latter cooks well on tawa too.

17) In the Airfryer group, I have come across folks who have tried Rajasthani dal bhatti and UP side litti chokki balls. Seems interesting and healthy.

PICKLES & CHUTNEYS

18) Roasting Garlic and Peppers for Hummus, Brinjal -RidgeGourd - Tomato -Capsicum for baingan bartha and vegetable pachadis and pickles

ONION RING SERIES
20) Onion rings and Zuccuni Stick
is a no spill pakoda like recipe. Batter is combined with egg and yogurt for the moisture and the dry finish comes from the bread crumb mix.

SWEETS & BREAD

19) Are Wah.. When wadas are possible, then why not Gulab Jamoon, Donuts and jaggery gavvalu shells? After all, the final taste is in the syrupy coating. A bit of ghee, milk and baking powder in the dough makes it possible.

A deep toasted bread ghevar dunked in syrup and topped with cream. Bread croutons can be made easily roasting with some olive oil and spices.

Bread Pinwheels with potato paneer filling rolled, sliced and airfryed.

POPULAR NON VEG DISHES
21) Chicken 65, Chicken wings, Chicken Pakoda
Due to the oil and moisture in the food, these turn out well.

Disclaimer

The results depends on the model, cooking expertise, quantity and moisture levels of the vegetables and the food. Exercise caution and understanding of the cooking type before trying. This post is meant for sharing ideas.

Handy Tools

I keep my oil brush, fork for stirring and pot holder handy. Parchment paper cut to food size can help avoid spills on the Airfryer Basket. For flaky kind of food, I use cooker vessel, steel plates or Steel Seive basket and cover it with Indian Seive.

Amazon has amazing tools for Airfrying from steel baskets, pre cut parchment papers, skewers and oil dispensers. I have not bought them yet and do check the reviews.

Which Airfryer?

If you do not have an OTG, I would recommend newer 10 quart models that have OTG and AirFry finction and the glass door provides inside visibility. Look for Steel finish if you are particular.

I choose Instapot vortex 6 quart Airfryer as it had a square design helping in some space optimization. The inside is pretty big.. Like a griddle. There is no inner basket, just a drip tray with holes. This gives more room. Outer dimension is 17.5" wide, 14.5" tall and 13" deep. Inner chamber is 9.5" * 9.75" * 3.5"

We are a family of 4 and I felt this size is good. There were some reviews about rubbery smell.. After running for 3 days, it kind of got away. And reviews said it was common with all Airfryers.

Getting Started

You are reading this probably to buy an Airfryer or to checkout. Get an Airfryer that suits your family size and requirements. You don’t want to be making in multiple batches. Read the warning notes.

Start with simple recipes like roasting nuts, making potato fries. Do not directly jump into pakodas, wadas, muruku and feel disappointed. For a new dish, ask yourself if it has too many layers to be cooked.. Can it be semi cooked or steamed outside? Does it have enough moisture level? For pakodas and kofta binding, consider oats flour, badam flour, semolina along with usual besan flour.. For falafels, a moist ball refrigerated for few hours and with bakingpowder incorporated in the dough for internal cooking does wonders. Mix the Onion Pakoda crumble loosely and try to spoon it instead of giving a firm shape.

Like a food scientist, think in these lines and make way with your for AirFryer.

Consider joining the Indian Airfryer group on Facebook. An active community and a great way to discovering newer ways of using it.

Consider following a few Airfryer blogs. thebellyrulesthemind has a variety of Indian and Contemporary dishes.

Stay Safe and Stay healthy. Happy Exploring and Bon appetite !!

Some suggestions for the Device Manufacturers

Instavortex 6 quart model handle is a bad design. It cannot bear the weight of the big basket. Mine broke in the first month itself.

a) Since flying of paper, papad and poha is a kind of cooking hazard, if the device could sense agitation and give a warning sound.

b)For Insta Vortex- Instead of the rubbery cushions at the edges, a tray with 4 tiny legs could be an option.

c)If steel netted basket for holding and covering the food can be sold on Amazon as an addon. That will help in cooking poha, papads etc safely.

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns