A freshly fried pakoda is easy and delicious; but not healthy. On the other hand, we think that air frying is healthy; but is it delicious? How do the 2 techniques compare side by side?
Are these questions about Pakoda keeping you up at night? Do you lie awake pondering the different ways to make Pakoda? 🙂 Fear not, my mom and I, ran the experiment for you and got you the answers you’ve been looking for.
Furthermore, we even added a 3rd technique – airfrying + frying, the results of which surprised us!!
The Pakoda Experiment
Side note for folks who are new to this dish – the folks from South India call this dish ‘Pakoda’ with a ‘D’ while the North calls it ‘Pakora’ with an ‘R’. Spelling aside, it is basically a rustic, fried dumpling.
Anyways, my mom used her home-style recipe she has been using for the past 30 years for making the batter. The internet has many options to make your batter spicier or ‘maseladar’. Feel free to choose whichever recipe you want.
But here comes the fun – we split the batter into 3 parts.
- Part 1 – Fried in oil
- Part 2 – Air-fried
- Part 3 – Air fried till 80% done + flash-fried in oil to finish off
Results of the experiment
The Fried version – as one would suspect – was crunchy and delicious. No surprise there!!
Air Fried Version
The Air-fried version tastes like a pakoda and it is crunchy. However, without ooh’ing and aah’ing like a typical food blogger, I can honestly tell you that the rich taste that comes from frying something in oil is missing. The crunch is dry. Yes, you could spray it with oil, still, something’s gotta give!!
A health aspect of this fried vs air-fried debate to consider if you are a diabetic or pre-diabetic is the glycemic load impact of these versions on your body. Eating, say, 4 air-dried pakodas (thinking it is healthy) may have the same or worse impact as eating 2 oil fried pakodas. In the oil-fried version, at least the fat is going to slow down the absorption of the flour into the body.
But, of course, if you are eating pakodas from the street vendor very often, the oxidized oil they use may be causing inflammatory damage to your body, which is a whole different health problem. Bottom line – 1) eat small portions in general 2) eat fried foods less often.
I think the air fried version would especially make a lot of sense in dishes like kadi-pakora or pakoda-kuzambu or pakoda kurma where the pakoda’s go on to soak in another liquid. You would get the nice chunky bite anyway without missing on the fat (oil-rich) taste and fewer calories in your meal overall.
Combo Version (Air Fry + Oil Fry)
Combo version – It was my mom who came up with the idea of flash-frying the air fried pakodas….and boy was that a great idea!! I put them in the air fryer for 7 minutes instead of the usual 10…and then flash fried them in the hot oil for just 30 seconds; they just crisped up beautifully. This was the favorite version for the majority of the household. As my younger one succinctly put it, “Yummm, this is crispy all the way through.”
Pakoda made 3 ways – Deep Fried, Air Fried, Air fried + quick oil fryCourse: RecipesCuisine: Indian
Pakoda made 3 ways – Deep Fried, Air Fried, Air fried + quick oil fry. Examine the process, the crunch, and taste resulting from all 3 methods.
Onion – 1 large (finely chopped)
Besan – 2 cups
Rice Flour – 1 cup
Salt – 1.5 tsp
Hing – 1 tsp
Chili Powder – 1tsp
Cashews – 1/2 cup (optional)
Hot oil – 1 ladle (~1/4 cup)
Water – ~1/2 cup (adjust based on batter)
Oil for Deep Frying
- Fried Pakodas
- Add all ingredients except the water in a bowl and mix well.
- Now sprinkle water little by little until the batter comes together. Don’t add too much water.
- In a wok, get the oil for deep frying ready. You know the oil is ready, when you drop a test-sample piece of batter and it bubbles, turns brown and floats to the top in a few seconds.
- Using your hands, drop portions of batter into the oil. Pakodas are famous for having crooked shapes and jagged edges.
- Cook for about 2 minutes on one side. Flip again at 2 minutes. for the last minute, give another 2 or 3 flips, ensuring all sides are evenly cooked.
- Air Fried Pakodas
- Set air fryer at 350F. Take the prepared batter and portion them out on to the air-fryer tray.
- Take them out at the 3 minute mark and turn the pieces around.
- Take them out in another 3 minutes and turn the pieces again. (Since the pakodas are not uniform in size, they needed to be stirred often whether they are cooking in oil or in the air)
- Check on them on the 9-10 minute mark. Serve!!
- Air fry + Oil Fry
- Do above air fry steps. But take the pakodas out at 7 minute mark. Drop them in the hot oil for just 30 seconds.
- The timings are for the Cuisinart Air Fryer. If you are using another brand, the timings may vary.
- If this is your first time using the air fryer, err on the side of caution and constantly check on them to prevent burning, especially for the last few minutes. Once you get the feel of the appliance, you can use the timings + intuition to guide you. The air-fried version can burn if you get distracted.
So, when you compare the 3 techniques, when it comes to taste:
- Frying – Crispy on the outside
- Air Frying – Crispy; but not rich-crispy
- Combo – Crispy throughout
Time for cooking:
- Frying – Each batch takes 6 minutes or more
- Air frying – while it takes 10 minutes, the tray is big and can accommodate the equivalent of 2 fried batches
- Combo – 7 minutes air frying, 30 seconds flash frying
Imagine this: you have guests coming over. You could air fry the batch before the guests arrive (pre-party prep) and then flash fry them right before serving; you could wrap up the process in 5 minutes!! Super crunchy delicious pakodas ready using the Combo method!! Yummy!!
I hope you all found the comparison of making pakoda 3 ways – frying, air frying and combination frying useful. Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. I look forward to reading them.
Here’s the amazon affiliate link for the Cuisinart Air Fryer I have. I plan on trying falafels, vadas and other items on them in the future. So, stay tuned.
Stay safe, stay positive and sending our love to all of you!!
Amazon Affiliate Link: Cuisinart Air Fryer
This is amazing, I have been looking for this option since so many years. Many times I avoided kadhi pakodas eventhough it is quintessential to kadhis. I’m going to stick to this method for kadhi going forward. My air fryer is instant pot’s air-fryer lid, I hope it works similarly. I was recently considering trying steaming kadhi pakoras, with pre-sauteed onions for that caramelized taste, then make thick batter & steam. But this air-frying + flash-frying is perfect.
Thank you Ketaki!! Rooting for yummy and healthy kadhi pakoras for you. 🙂
I am considering getting an air fryer and healthy pakoras would be a nice incentive. Now, do I really have room in my kitchen for one more appliances? This experiment is persuasive!
Haha… story of my life…Kitchen space vs enthusiasm!!
I hope ‘enthusiasm’ wins this time for you, coz I really love my air fryer!!