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The fat-free feast

Philips’ Airfryer offers a healthier alternative to deep-fried foods but is a little overpriced
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First Published: Tue, Feb 26 2013. 05 22 PM IST
Philips’ Airfryer is ridiculously easy to use
Philips’ Airfryer is ridiculously easy to use
The Philips Airfryer is a great example of a kitchen gadget that you don’t really need, but probably really want. While Philips is marketing it as a fat-free fryer, the way it works is actually very similar to any convection oven—there’s a grill that heats up, and a fan that blows the air about.
Philips launched the Airfryer in June, and it hasn’t reduced the price since then, or released newer models. We used the Airfryer for one week, and experimented with a variety of different foods to see how effective it is.
What sets it apart is that the Airfryer has been designed to maximize airflow and by focusing on just one use, can cook French fries and other snacks much more quickly than an oven.
The Airfryer can prepare around 800g of chips in 15 minutes, and the results are crisp and taste good. Of course, it isn’t the same as deep-frying the potatoes in hot oil, but on the plus side, it’s much simpler to make, and healthier as well.
The model launched in India is pretty small. The device has basically two parts—a sealed heating unit with a fan on top, and a food container below. The food tray can be removed, so you can put food in and take it out, and it’s easy to clean by hand as well as being dishwasher-safe.
Easy and clean
The Airfryer is ridiculously easy to use. Just switch on the power, put in the food, turn on the timer for 15 minutes, and forget about it until it is done. It’s so simple that a 10-year-old could operate it, though a parent should be around to remove the hot tray.
There are different settings available as well—you can change the temperature, for different results, but even if you never adjust it, the Airfryer is useful for making different types of food. The recipe book lists simple instructions for a number of dishes such as chicken tikkas, samosas and spring rolls.
Ready-to-cook dishes, of the sort you get from Venky’s and McCain, are easier to make, and taste better than they do when fried, as long as you don’t overcook them. They dry out quickly in the Airfryer, so you need to keep checking after the 10-minute mark by pulling out the tray from time to time.
The Airfryer’s fan technology has the positive side effect of expelling the smells from the unit quickly so it doesn’t start smelling. Since there is no oil and no dripping, cleaning it is also fairly simple.
Usability issues
With space for around 800g of potato crisps, or around six-seven small chicken nuggets at a time, it’s not ideal for households with more than two people. The Airfryer also needs over a foot of empty space behind it, and the device itself is fairly big and heavy—make sure you have the space in your kitchen before buying one.
There’s a lot of variety that can be accomplished with some creativity, but at the end of the day, it’s fairly single-purpose—most people are going to use it to quick-fry things. Sure, we were able to fry a sausage roll and toast bread, along with making fries, but you quickly learn its limits, which are not ideal for such an expensive device.
Which is of course the biggest caveat—the Airfryer is priced at Rs.14,995 in India, almost twice what it costs in markets like Dubai. You can get small discounts if you buy online, with the cheapest deal, at the time of writing, being Rs.13,199 on www.pepperfry.com.
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First Published: Tue, Feb 26 2013. 05 22 PM IST
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