News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Getahead » Air Fryers, Sizzling Beer, Cheese Sandwiches

Air Fryers, Sizzling Beer, Cheese Sandwiches

June 19, 2024 13:01 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Air fryer specials

IMAGE: Dutch inventor Fred van der Weij was behind the creation of an air fryer in 2005 and his model was showcased by Philips at a consumer electronics fair in Berlin in 2010. Photograph: Kind courtesy: stellahyc910/Wikimedia Commons

When one first heard about the air fryer, almost 20 years ago, it sounded like a magical gadget.

To have a nifty little box, that could fry French fries, alu tikkis, kebabs, without oil, had to be an incredible machine.

I bought an air fryer three years ago. It is indeed an astonishing appliance. But...

(Yes, the buts are important.)

But a few truths. If you cook something in the air fryer with zero oil, it ain't gonna taste like much.

So, a dash of oil is required. Yet, it is still amazing how good stuff tastes when it comes out of the fryer after it's been cooked in the tiniest quantity of oil.

Another truth: Air fryers are meant for homes where lots of fried food is made. And not for households unused to an excess of deep-fried goodies. Many of us no longer wade though weeks of menus filled with puris, samosas, vadas etc. We may make one of these delicacies once in a month and then a little deep frying won't really hurt.

Also don't expect to be cooking up bhajiyas or vada pao in your fryer -- all fried foods cannot be made in an air fryer, not without some serious modifications. Remember too: It's a large appliance that will need storage space or countertop room and a large plug and yet needs to be handy or it will gather dust.

I was recently asked about the pros and cons of buying an air fryer and here is how I offered my advice:

Instagram and YouTube are full of recommendations of the wonderful things you can do with an air fryer. Are they true?

Remember an air fryer is not an OTG oven (0ven toaster grill) or a microwave (except those with an air fryer setting). Conceivably, it can stand in for one, if you don't have an OTG oven or a convection microwave.

But if you have either, there is no need to imagine you are creating something fantastically different by putting stuff (that could easily be cooked in an oven or a frying pan) in an air fryer, which some Instagram posts lead you to believe.

The main purpose of an air fryer is to eliminate the use of excess oil. And it uses special technology to do this, by speedily swirling intense heat all around the item via rapid air technology.

Does an air fryer eliminate oil entirely?

It can cook something entirely without oil. But if the item being cooked does not have any oil in it (in its raw form), using no oil while cooking an item will not work exactly.

Whatever you are cooking needs a small amount of oil lubrication, with one of those pastry brushes, for the item to not taste like dry like sawdust and for it to crisp.

Who is an air fryer meant for?

For a family or couple or a single person, who, in the normal course of a week, add/s a lot of fried food to their meals -- fried fish, samosas, tikkis, different types of vadas, burgers, gulab jamun, French fries, kachoris, puris, kebabs, sausages etc.

How often do you use an air fryer?

If fried food is not a regular part of your diet, an air fryer is not so useful. And if you don't eat much of those frozen packaged food now available, regularly, like kebabs, sabudana wadas and samosas etc, it won't be so useful.

But it does a marvelous job with fresh-out-of-the-freezer semi-cooked items. Samosas come out crunchy and fragrant with the tiniest amount of oil. The fryer turns out excellent kebabs and so on.

Can a non-stick frying pan, where you use minimal oil and roast the item over low heat, stand in for an air fryer?

About 75 per cent of the time. You don't need an air fryer to pan fry bhindi.

When you try -- with less oil -- to fry something that normally needs more oil to cook in frying pan, it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. That mostly does not happen in an air fryer. Fish, prawns, baingan (eggplant or brinjal), karela (bitter gourd) are good bets for an air fryer.

What size air fryer should one buy?

If you are a large family, or a family unit that plans to use the fryer for entertaining, then it is important to go for a larger size. Or you will have drooling hordes waiting and waiting endlessly for their batches of kebabs etc, because anything below 5.5 litres is pretty small


IMAGE: Karela or bitter gourd is a great candidate for an air fryer. Photograph: Zelda Pande

What are some of the best items to cook in an air fryer?

Various types of potato fries -- French fries, wedges, chips. Chicken nuggets, papad, fryums, momos, cutlets, samosas, paneer, burgers, fried fish, fried prawns, fried chicken, stir-fried vegetables, Chicken 65, Mushroom 65, sausages, peanuts, gula jamiun, chilly chicken, dahi bhalle, mung vadas, fried bhindi, fried karela, fried baingan (eggplant).

Any other use for an air fryer?

I have friends who use it as a one-stop cooking area that does not use too many pots and pans. Like they might do their sandwiches and fries in one go in an air fryer. Or pizzas. Omelets, bacon and cheese toast. That’s a reasonable alternative use.  


It's very important to preheat your air fryer for about 10 minutes before.

Each air fryer is different and experiment with the timings for items and the time given in recipes may not apply to your air fryer.

When frying something really gooey or sticky like fish, line the basket with baking paper or use a silicon air fryer basket or a paper liner basket (both available online); it will save you a lot of cleaning later.

For making bhalle and other kinds of wadas, like mung wadas, buy a silicon mini muffin mold tray.

American-style grilled cheese sandwiches do quite well in the air fryer. Traditionally it's toasted in a frying pan with a fair amount of oil or butter. In an air fryer you can use less butter and the mechanism of the fryer will ensure it gets a desired all-around crispness.

This sandwich is a cross between the all-American favourite and Welsh rarebit, a snobby 18th century British tea special that uses beer or ale.

Welsh rarebit, once called Welsh rabbit, obviously has no rabbit in it, but is a spiced-up cheesy bread concoction. Incidentally the British have been enjoying rarebit kind of snacks since Shakespeare's time and it is said that Welsh rarebit causes colourful dreams.

Photograph: Kind courtesy: Jon Sullivan/Wikimedia Commons

Grilled Welsh Rarebit

Serves: 1-2


  • 4 slices bread, thick slices of sourdough preferable
  • 2-4 tsp butter
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 2 thick slices cheese, cheddar preferable
  • 2 tbsp maida or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tsp mustard paste or use kasundi (Bengali mustard paste)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tsp paprika or chilly flakes
  • Pinch salt, only if required
  • 150 ml beer, any brand


  • Lay two slices of bread on a flat surface.
    Layer each slice with one slice of cheddar cheese.
    Keep aside.
  • Meanwhile warm up the air fryer in advance for 10 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, over low heat, roast the flour with the olive oil, then add the beer and heat for 1-2 minutes more till the beer begins to bubble and the roux (flour + oil/butter) and the beer are well combined.
    Take off heat and while still hot quickly mix in the mustard, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, grated cheese, chilly flakes till you have a thick sauce.
    Lastly add the salt, only if required (the sauces and cheese already have salt).
    Spread 2-3 tbsp or so of the thick sauce evenly onto the bread slices, over the cheese.
    Cover each slice with remaining two slices.
    Spread butter on the exterior of all 4 bread slices.
    Place both sandwiches flat in the air fryer at 180°C and cook on each side for about 4 minutes or till the cheese is melted and the bread becomes golden brown.
  • Serve with fried or scrambled eggs, slices of larger gherkins and maybe a salad.

Zelda's Note: Instead of beer you could opt for wine.

When served with an egg on top it becomes a golden buck or a buck rabbit. When tomato is mixed with the cheese sauce it becomes a blushing bunny.


Get Rediff News in your Inbox: