For the love of fried food… I got an air fryer and never looked back

For the love of fried food… I got an air fryer and never looked back

It helps retain the same taste in regular meals using a significantly less amount of oil

Air fryer lead
Air fryers are a guilt-free method of cooking and eating your favourite deep-fried foods Image Credit: Shutterstock

Live to eat? Or eat to live? I would say the answer lies somewhere in between. While it is very true that we need food to stay alive, so also, there is hardly any harm in enjoying what we eat.

With the advent of technology, we are now able to know about different kinds of food that people consume from all around the world. Whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian, a snack or a main course, our choices have broadened. With this has come the ever-present human curiosity to try out new things — explore different palates — and sometimes tweak it a bit to fit our own taste buds. Thus a pizza, which is an Italian dish, finds chicken tikka as a favourite topping in India. Meat burgers have found a vegetarian option with a paneer patty stuffed in. Cheese, which is again a very Western concept, has found itself made into pakoras, noodles, samosas are a delight, just to name a few.

Low-fat sweet potato fries with an air fryer
Low-fat sweet potato fries can be made from scratch with an air fryer Image Credit: Valeria Boltneva from Pexels

With the arena of new food ideas widening comes the question of consumption. How much to eat? With such endless varieties available, at the click of a button, we tend to go overboard. The result — our health is at risk. So side by side has arisen the concept of healthy eating and of course, controlling our portions. This often leads to the exclusion of food types that require deep frying. But do we not crave for them — sometimes? A pakora with a hot cup of coffee on a rainy day is often yearned for, or a cookie or a fried sweet.

Fortunately, technology does not let us down here. Just as it brought variety in food in front of us, so also has it found ways to make eating safer. Ovens, microwaves and grillers are some such machines that help us eat healthy. With grey hairs showing, we tend to become cautious about our eating habits as we are all too aware of the risks otherwise.

With the discovery of the air fryer, things have taken a new dimension altogether. An air fryer, as the name suggests, fries food using air. It uses significantly less oil. Imagine koftas being made with a mere brushing of oil! Magic! Moreover, as opposed to a conventional oven, an air fryer cooks the food all round. Being in a basket, the base of the food gets a chance to be cooked simultaneously as the rest. The time taken can also be counted in minutes.

Potato wedges air fryer
Easy peasy extra crispy potato wedges made using an air fryer Image Credit: Shutterstock

Having bought an air fryer, I started experimenting on how I could use it to lessen our oil intake, while at the same time, retaining the flavour of traditional deep fried Indian food. After a few experimentations, I successfully tweaked the cooking method to suit the air fryer’s process. I successfully made paneer koftas, balushahis, fried chicken, cookies and a number of other items in this way.

Below are some of my tried and tested recipes.


Balushahi in an air fryer
With the air fryer, Indian sweets such as balushahi are indulgent treats you can enjoy often, fried to golden perfection Image Credit: Shutterstock

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

(Timings may differ due to the make and capacity of the air fryer. I use Philips HD9216)

Makes 18 pieces


For the dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup warm ghee (clarified butter)

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

¼ cup warm water

For sugar syrup

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

4 drops lemon juice


To make the dough

1. In a bowl, mix all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder with a spoon.

2. Add the warm ghee to the dry ingredients and mix to get a grainy consistency

3. Add the warm water and mix so that everything comes together but don’t knead it like chappati dough.

4. Rest it covered for 15 minutes on the kitchen counter.

5. Make layers in the dough by just tearing them and bringing them together again into one ball.

6. Do this for at least 5 or 6 times

7. Make small balls and then make a hole in each ball with your finger or a very small spoon.

8. Preheat the air fryer at 180° C for three minutes

9. Brush the balls with a thin layer of ghee (clarified butter) on top and air fry them for 10 minutes.

10. Then flip, apply ghee on the other side and air fry for another 10 minutes.

11. Remove the warm balushahis from the air fryer and dunk them in warm sugar syrup for 15 minutes.

12. Remove them from the sugar syrup and plate out. You can serve them warm or refrigerate them and serve cold too.

To make the sugar syrup

1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, add sugar and water and bring it to a boil.

2. Let it boil on full flame for five minutes.

3. Add lemon juice and boil for another minute.

4. Cool it down to warm before adding the balushahi balls. Enjoy!

Paneer Malai Kofta

Malai kofta in an air fryer
Koftas made for this curry with a mere brush of oil? Magic! Image Credit: Shutterstock

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

(Timings may differ due to the make and capacity of the air fryer. I use Philips HD9216)

Makes 11 pieces (of 30g each)


For the koftas:

180gm grated paneer

150gm potato

3 tbsp cornflour plus 2 to 3 tbsp for rolling the balls

½ tsp green cardamom powder

½ tsp ginger

2 chopped green chilli

1 tbsp coriander leaves

¼ tsp lemon juice

5 tbsp crushed nuts (almond, pistachio, cashew)

Salt to taste

2 tbsp oil


1. In a bowl, grate the paneer and the potato

2. Mix all the other ingredients except the oil with the paneer and potato

3. Measure out 11 balls of the mixture of 30 grams each in a plate

4. Now oil your palm and take each ball. Give it a spherical shape

5. If it cracks, you can add some more cornflour

6. Now add in 2/3 tablespoons of cornflour, and roll the kofta balls

7. Keep them in a covered container until you air fry.

8. Pre heat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 180° C

9. Cook the koftas for 10 minutes at 180° C.

These koftas can be served as starters just by themselves with ketchup. If you wish to make malai kofta curry, you just have to dip the kofta balls in the gravy, recipe below.

Malai Kofta Gravy

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes


Tomato puree from 2 big tomatoes

2 tbsp cashewnut paste

½ tsp black pepper powder

1 inch cinnamon stick

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

½ tbsp ginger

½ tbsp garam masala

¼ tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

¼ tsp red chilli powder

1 tbsp oil

200ml water

Coriander leaves, to garnish


1. In a deep-bottomed pan, add oil. Put the cinnamon stick and the purred tomato and bring it to a boil.

2. Lower heat to a simmer and add black pepper powder, salt, sugar, ginger, cumin powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and garam masala powder. Give it a nice stir. Cover and let it cook until oil separates.

3. Now add the cashewnut paste and let the oil separate for a second time.

4. Now add the water. Increase the flame to medium and let it come to a boil.

5. In a serving bowl, put the koftas and pour the gravy on it. NEVER put the koftas in the gravy, or else they will break.

6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

- The writer is a homemaker based in Dubai.

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