The Holy month of Ramazan is here and along with blessings and the spirit of forgiveness, it brings with it scrumptious iftars, laden with mouth-watering edibles. No iftar is complete without deep fried items like pakoras, samosas, French fries, etc. But, along with taste, the oily cuisine brings health problems like calories, high cholesterol, bloating, acid reflux, etc. To make things healthier, an appliance called ‘air fryer’ is available in the market, which uses hot air to cook oily meals. “Air is the new oil,” says Gordon Ramsay about air fryer. Here’s all that you need to know about this new appliance.
What’s an air fryer?
As the name implies, an air fryer works by circulating very hot air around the food. There is a heater fitted directly above the chamber in which food is kept that radiates heat directly into the food. A large fan above the heater pulls the air upwards through the cooking chamber creating a strong vertical air flow. The air then flows downwards and is evenly distributed throughout the chamber by a starfish like equipment. The heat is circulated continuously within the chamber so it reaches every part of the food even when it’s piled on top of each other.
When asked if the air fried chips taste the same as deep fried, Gordon Ramsay honestly adds, “Nothing is going to replace that deep-fried taste, so no, they don’t. But, the air fryer uses only a tablespoon of oil and the chips come out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside — they’re a healthier version, and they taste great.”
Air fryer is healthier while the traditional deep oil fryer is slightly tastier. Deep fryers are common in restaurants while air fryers are more of a home kitchen item. But, besides these noticeable differences, there are many other components like features, cooking capacity, maintenance, reliability and price which make the two fryers subtly different from each other. Let’s have a look at each unit individually.
Both fryers share some similar features like digital screens, adjustable temperatures and user-friendly controls. However, the latest air fryers are equipped with adjustable temperature control system, a timer with a ready signal and an automatic shut-off. Some come with cooking pre-sets too. Consider buying an air fryer with a simple touch operation and an on / off switch for convenience. Digital countdown timer and a buzzer can also be good choices to remind you of food inside the fryer.
On the other hand, deep-fried foods leave behind rather an unpleasant smell; therefore if you are opting to buy one, choose a fryer with adequate odour control and a charcoal filter.
The main difference between a deep fryer and an air fryer is that of the size. Air fryers are much smaller in size since they don’t have a large oil container to dunk food in. They can easily fit in any corner of your kitchen counter and look quite stylish. But don’t let the small size of the air fryer sway you away. Even the smallest air fryers (for occasional cooking) have ample of space to cook food for at least four people. But, if you’re interested in preparing complete meals (instead of snacks) then select a larger air fryer.
Alternatively, if you wish to prepare a medium-sized serving of a certain dish in the deep fryer, then the fryer which has a capacity of four to 12 cups will be enough. The deep fryer with a capacity of six cups can easily cook a hearty meal for two individuals. Some deep fryers come with two large baskets or a combination of a large and a small basket.
Maintenance and reliability
Deep and air fryers are low maintenance appliances and are generally long-lasting, however, the knobs and bowls to sieve excess oil can break due to rough handling, and wear and tear over time. The units don’t get damaged easily for at least a year or two, and if you are regularly cleaning and carefully inspecting the parts after using the fryers, then the chances of any damage become significantly lower. Just don’t forget to drain or filter the oil from the fryers and the appliance will remain fit to be used for a long time.
It might seem that deep fryers are more expensive than air fryers owning to their size, but, in fact, air fryers cost much more because they are installed with latest cutting-edge technology and bring innovation into our kitchens. Most air fryers cost between Rs10,000 to Rs30,000 and are available online as well as at electronic shops in the metropolitan cities.
Deep fryers cost between Rs5,000 to Rs15,000 and are easily available at all electronic stores across the country.
Air really is the new oil since it is healthy, chic and efficient. Try air frying this Ramazan and feel the difference.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, June 12th, 2016