Philips Air Fryer: The Onion Bhaji Experiment

I love onion bhaji and veg pakora.  I’ll usually always order those at Indian restaurants.  The upside is they’re all kinds of fantastic.  The downside: they’re deep fried.  Now sure, I’m not eating out all the time for this to be a problem, but these are dishes I really want to make at home and at home, I won’t be a-deep fryin’.  What to do?

Well, since my Philips Air Fryer arrived I’ve been thinking of trying bjahi and pakora recipes.  Except I’ve been slack and mostly been using the air fryer for potato and sweet potato chips (fries).  So a coupla days ago I gave myself a stern talking to and turned to YouTube for an onion bhaji video that looked good.

My friends.  May I present you with what is probably the best cooking instructional video I’ve seen in a very long time:

You just gotta watch it.  DO IT DO IT.

So I followed the batter recipe to the letter but I used one large red onion and a big chunk of finely sliced cauliflower florets as I didn’t want to use up all my onions.  I even left out salt as no salt is mentioned in the the recipe but my first batch was in desperate need of salt so I added some to the remaining batter.

The batter was so thick that I was able to put the bhaji balls straight in to the air fryer basket, with nothing lining it.  After ten minutes at 180C I turned the bhaji over:

bhaji2

I really had no idea how long to put them in for so I made it twenty minutes.  They were cooked through but the cooked batter was still kinda thick, however this is how some deep fried bhaji I’ve eaten have turned out.  Next time I’ll throw in a little baking powder or something.  My bhaji at Magic Mint in Moonee Ponds was, I believe, quite lighter and fluffier and not as dense.  I’d like to be able to make lighter, fluffier bhaji.  Bad photo:

bhaji1

Not containing any oil, my bhaji were quite dry but the flavours were nice.  My second batch stuck to the fryer basket a bit, but I’ll take that any day over deep frying and having to stand and watch the stuff cooking.

This is a recipe that I want to change up a bit so the kids will eat it.  Which means no obvious bits of veg whatsoever so perhaps some finely diced veggies will do the trick.

If I’d been more organised I would have made a tamarind dipping sauce as these definitely need something like that.  I’ll also take more care making them look a little nicer but this was just an experiment.

I recommend trying the recipe in the video  🙂

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What I Ate This Week- still slightly slack about it

So this week I’ve been remembering to take photos.  Except I feel that so much of what I eat is boring so I don’t often take photos.

Non-food wise, I’ve really been enjoying watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.  I haven’t read the books but oooooh how I love that this is set in Melbourne in the 1920s!

missfisherdvd1

I borrowed ‘A Casual Vacancy’ from the library.  I  like JK, I really do.  But aiiieeeee I could not get in to this book and had to stop at (something like) “their words went back and forth like beads on an abacus”.  If you’ve read it, tell me if I should give it another chance:

acasualvacancy

Okay, on to food!

I’ve made kritharaki a few times.  I still can’t make it as well as my mum:

kritharaki

A smoothie with banana, hazelnut, a bit of raw cacao and maca.  I don’t know the ins and outs of maca and if you should avoid eating it with certain other things:

hazelnutsmoothie

Husband and DeeW picked up some California salad rolls:

saladrolls

One of my favourite smoothies is made with banana, lemon, orange, hemp seed and flax meal:

lemonhempsmoothie

I made a nice simple salad, with a bottled raspberry vinaigrette but the verdict from Critic 1 and Critic 2 was “yuuuuuck”.  My kids just don’t like salad, neither does Husband.  FRUSTRATING:

kidsdinner

(photo size change!)

I made a Mexican soup recipe from a Jamie Oliver cookbook.  The ingredients were canned tomato, red/green/yellow capsicums, carrot, onion, onion, garlic, bay leaves.  That was a little too bland for me so I added a little cumin.  The soup is topped with avocado, a squeeze of lime juice, coriander and I added some corn tortillas that I’ve had frozen since my visit to La Tortelleria.  Unbelievably, Husband ate the soup and liked it, though he only had the soup and none of the fixins on top:

mexicansoup

One day I decided to make chick’n parmigiana because I had some pasta sauce and Notzarella.  But my Notzarella (the first packet I’d bought) had gone mouldy because I should have used it sooner and I thought it couldn’t be frozen (it can).  So the kids got the shnitzels but I snuck two crispy end pieces in to my pasta.  I cheat now and then and use the bottled sauce from Aldi’s Just Organic range:

pastabowl

While the pasta had been cooking, I was helping DeeW with her reading work.  Arthur offered to help her when I had to go back to the stove:

readinghelp

I made some zucchini banana bread and gave the Royal Albert tennis set another workout:

teacake

More chips were made in the Phillips Air Fryer and this time I lightly pan fried some tofu marinated in sesame oil, orange juice and zest and a little maple syrup.  I am so pleased Arthur eats tofu, it makes meal planning much easier:

tofuchips

The next volume of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is sitting by the TV and that’s my calling for this evening  🙂

The Philips Air Fryer (aka Veganopoulous the sucker)

So one day, I was channel surfing (I rarely watch tv so this was a rare moment) and Arthur walked in to the room just as a home shopping infomercial came on  for the Nicer Dicer.  And I said to Arthur now come and be seated and let me show you how advertising tries to brainwash us in to buying crap.  Twenty minutes later Arthur says “I think this would be a really good gift for you Mummo” and in a monotone I replied yessssssss.  But then I snapped out of it cos I googled reviews and people were saying how you end up with shaved bits of plastic in your salad.  Phew, they almost had me.

A few months ago, Husband had sent me some links for an air fryer.  I looked at them briefly and said pfffft what a waste of money.  And the air fryer was passed off as a thing of nonsense.

phillipsairfryer

Welllll.  Like the evil little engine that could brainwash, the air fryer came back to try its luck.  In another rare tv moment, as I was home alone and was about to watch a DVD, the home shopping network was on and the feature product was the Philips Air Fryer, reduced in price with a special deal on a second baking tray.  I had no idea what it meant but I decided to see just how gimmicky this baby Dalek was.

Yes, Veganopoulous was sucked in.  Initially, I looked at it and thought how on earth would that size tray feed a family of four to six?  A quick google of reviews showed gush after gush of people cooking [non-vegan-food] with baby potatoes in the same basket, all to feed a family of six.  Impressive.  Then of course, the discussion of cooking chips.  I looove hot chips but to get mine all soft on the inside crispy on the outside required a ton of oil in the oven tray and I really do not like cooking that way.  I tried the oil sprays but the potatoes (in chip form or slices or wedges) turned out urgh.

I also realised that if I was to feed a healthy, balanced meal to my family, then the portion sizes provided by the air fryer tray or basket would be more than enough.  Portion size has always been my downfall!

It’s been two weeks since I saw that program, and one week since the Philips Air Fryer arrived.  Like just about every other air fryer owner in the galaxy, I tried potato chips first.  This involved slicing my potatoes in to strips and soaking for at least half an hour.  Then pat dry, toss with a teaspoon of oil and some salt (I made them plain) and stick them in the air fryer for twenty minutes at 180C:

chips1

 Shake the basket once at the halfway mark:

chips2

I have to say, the chips were pretty good and Arthur, who insists he doesn’t like my home made chips, thought these were fab:

chips3

My second experiment with chips also involved some sweet potato.  As I was only cooking for myself, I used a few tiny drops of oil, a pinch of curry powder and some salt.  Again, pretty good.  Not crunchy-crispy but I’ll stuff myself on them:

chipsb

I will definitely use the air fryer to make chips and other potato goodies where I have previously had to use a lot of oil.  I’ll get Arthur to sample some sweet potato fries again as he didn’t like the oven baked ones I  made.  I have a recipe for stuffed mushrooms which looks good because mushrooms are another thing I have to use a bit too much oil on.

The Philips Air Fryer comes with a recipe book but it’s not very useful to a vegan, apart from the chips recipes and a stuffed mushroom recipe (the stuffing isn’t anything special).  There’s a ratatouille which looks good too.

This isn’t a cheap appliance, but neither was my dehydrator or blender and I bought those for health reasons and with my blender especially, it gets used all the time.  And I wanted to cut my use of oil waaaay down.  Cooking roast potatoes always had me feeling a bit ewww about all the oil.

So far I’m noticing a big lack of vegan recipes for air fryers but that’s cool as I’m sure we’ll eventually see more.  I’m hoping a lot of the recipes I would make on the stove can somehow be used in the fryer.  I would love to have a vegetable pakora or onion bhaji that isn’t deep fried but those batters tend to be quite wet and I’d probably have to line the basket so the batter doesn’t drip through.  I’m also looking forward to doing something with eggplant.  I love eggplant but again, so much oil is used!  I’ve been wanting to make my vegan moussaka again but the thought of frying the potato and eggplant has put me off.

I’ll be sure to blog about my success and failures using the Philips Air Fryer!