Maverick Life

Book Recipe

Make the most of your air fryer

Make the most of your air fryer
'The South African Air Fryer Cookbook' book cover. Image: Human & Rousseau/The Reading List

Three fool-proof recipes from the runaway hit The South African Air Fryer Cookbook, that will make dinner time a lot tastier.

The air fryer – essentially a small countertop convection oven that cooks food quickly and efficiently – has gained tremendous popularity in South Africa over the last few years. 

The South African Air Fryer Cookbook – a current Daily Maverick Top Ten Best Seller – is a collection of easy-to-follow, mouthwatering, family-friendly local recipes. It’s a must-have to add to your cooking repertoire. 

The book includes helpful tips and tricks for any size or brand of air fryer, and suggests some essential accessories.


Steak Gatsby

Tuck into this home-made version of the popular take-away treat.

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time
  • Air-fryer temperature: 200°C
  • Cooking time: approximately 25 minutes


  • 800 g minute steaks
  • 5 ml ground turmeric
  • 30 ml leaf masala
  • 5 ml paprika
  • 10 ml barbeque spice
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 15 ml grated ginger
  • 15 ml brown vinegar, plus extra for drizzling
  • 5 ml sugar
  • 60 ml canola oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 750 g oven-baked chips
  • 1 large French loaf, cut in half lengthways
  • Sliced tomato, lettuce, coriander, chilli sauce  (optional), to serve
  1. Place the pieces of meat between two sheets of plastic wrap and hit gently with a rolling pin or meat mallet to flatten.
  2. Mix the spices, garlic, ginger, vinegar, sugar and 30 ml oil together and spread over the meat. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. Put the onion slices into a bowl and add the remaining oil. Toss well to coat.
  4. Preheat the air fryer to 200°C. Put the onions into the basket of the air fryer and cook for 8 minutes. Stir halfway through the cooking time. The onions should be slightly charred when they are done. Remove from the air fryer and set aside.
  5. Reduce the heat to 190°C and cook the oven-baked chips for 10 minutes until done. Toss once during cooking. Set aside. Drizzle with brown vinegar and season to taste.
  6. Increase the air fryer temperature to 200°C and add the steak to the basket. Cook for 3-5 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
  7. To serve, spread the bread with butter. Top with tomato, lettuce, coriander, chips, steak and onions. Add some chilli sauce, if you like. Wrap tightly in foil and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes so the flavours can mingle. Cut into pieces and enjoy.


Moroccan-spiced butternut and naartjie salad 

Serve as a side salad or add cooked chicken or chickpeas and enjoy as a light main course.

  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Air-fryer temperate: 180°C
  • Cooking time: approximately 30 minutes
  • 1 medium butternut, peeled and cubed (or use a packet of ready-cubed butternut)
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 20 ml Moroccan spice blend/rub
  • 3 baby gem lettuces, broken into leaves
  • 30 g wild rocket
  • 2 naartjies, peeled and segmented
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 50 ml toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 50 ml crumbled blue or feta cheese
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to serve
  1. Place the butternut in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the Moroccan spices. Toss to coat. Preheat the air fryer to 180°C. Place the butternut into the basket of the air fryer. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender and slightly charred. Turn the pieces over halfway through the cooking time.
  2. Remove from the air fryer and set aside to cool. Place the lettuce, rocket, naartjie segments and onion slices onto a platter and top with the cooked butternut. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and blue cheese or feta, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Hertzoggie slices 

Bake this popular South African cookie in your air fryer and enjoy for afternoon tea.

  • Makes: 16 slices
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Air-fryer temperature: 160°C
  • Cooking time: approximately 25 minutes
  • 100 g (180 ml) cake flour
  • 3 ml baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 60 g (65 ml) butter
  • 30 ml castor sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 60 ml smooth apricot jam
  • 80 g (90 ml) castor sugar
  • 80 g (255 ml) desiccated coconut
  1. Sift the flour and baking powder together with a pinch of salt. Rub in the butter and add the castor sugar. Whisk the egg yolks and stir into the mixture to make a dough.
  2. Press evenly over the base of a greased 15 x 20-cm aluminium foil container.
  3. Prick all over the base with a fork.
  4. Spread the apricot jam over the pastry. Preheat the air fryer to 160°C. Place the aluminium tin into the basket of the air fryer and cook for 8 minutes.
    Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Beat the egg whites together until stiff. Stir in the sugar and coconut.
  5. Remove the tin from the air fryer and spoon the topping over the jam. Return to the air fryer and bake for 12-15 minutes at 160°C until the topping is crisp and light golden. Remove from the air fryer and cool completely.
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut into slices. Store in an airtight container. DM/ ML

Visit The Reading List for South African book news – including recipes! – daily.

In case you missed it, also read Louisa Holst’s tips for air-frying success

Louisa Holst’s tips for air-frying success


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