Life & Culture

All I want for Pesach is a (kosher) air fryer

Is this the ultimate seasonal gadget?


Let my people go! Traditionally Moses’ plea to Pharoah to free the Jews from slavery, over Pesach it can feel more like a refrain from an overwhelmed family cook wanting an escape from the kitchen.

Even before Seder night, it’s an endless cycle of cooking, eating, cooking and eating, ad infinitum. Pesach might commemorate freedom but to many of us, daughters, wives and mothers not least, it can feel like forced servitude. And without the option of just bunging on some pasta to keep everyone happy.

That’s true of all Jewish festivals to some degree (even the fast days). But on Pesach it reaches a new level, as you attempt to manage the mayhem without normal kitchen implements and using recipes you dig out just once a year.

That’s why, over the years I have been hot on the tail of any hack that can make Pesach less of a chore. A few years ago I procured a Pesach bowl for my ice-cream maker, reasoning that if anything can make maror season less bitter, it’s home-churned gelato.

Covid brought the miracle of being able to purchase staples such as yoghurt from, whisper it, a normal supermarket at reasonable prices. (Yes, I know it was supposed to be a temporary exemption, but I can’t be alone in seeing fit to continue; if regular tuna was good enough then, it’s good enough now). My Pesach inventory grows yearly as I give into the need for decent knives, a proper frying pan and oven-proof dishes that negate the historic silver foil tray mountain.

This year, my must-have Pesach addition? An air fryer. Now, I know the arguments. “It’s just a glorified oven,” deride the naysayers, mirthful about those conned by clever marketing and a desire for the shiny and new. Maybe. But with two ravenous sons age four and one, and dinnertime often tantrum central, never underestimate the value of a tool that cooks fish fingers and chips in just ten minutes. Faster food for frazzled toddlers – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Since its arrival last summer, rarely a day has gone by when it hasn’t been put to work; for roasting aubergines, charring broccoli, making schnitzels, reheating pizza and beyond. Animal, fish, vegetable or plant-based mystery, what goes in comes out cooked to perfection. I even employed it to make latkes last Chanukah; using significantly less oil than a frying pan (and only briefly setting the whole thing on fire). A miracle, surely.

In abandoning my oven for its younger upstart, I’m bang on trend. The global air fryers market is forecast to be worth £775 million this year. Last month the ONS added air fryers to its inflation-tracking basket of goods, noting “the energy- saving aspect, as well as the health benefits”. You can’t move for specialist recipe books; a simple Amazon search calls up 30,000 results. Obviously, there will be no fish fingers in the Pesach air fryer, but I’m open to experimentation. Can you make matzah brie in one? Pesach pizza, perhaps. Charoset? A cinnamon ball? Maror crisps? Surely someone has tried. Certainly, it can tackle the mountain of potatoes Pesach inevitably entails, without clogging up my family’s arteries with industrial quantities of oil.

Do I need a new kosher for Pesach one, or would spring cleaning my year-round fryer suffice? After all, my oven, microwave and kettle all pull double shifts, and we always use liners. Without consulting the rabbis, it’s hard to know the received wisdom, but somehow the air fryer, with its cosy pull-out drawer, feels non-transferable. (Besides, having two means a back-up in my house, heaven forbid the normal one should break).

This year, I don’t need an afikomen present, but as Mariah Carey didn’t say, all I want for Pesach is an air fryer. Who knows, if the Israelites had had one, maybe we wouldn’t have to endure matzah at all – because their bread would have cooked that bit faster.

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