Gobhi (Cauliflower) Manchurian – Indo-Chinese delicacy
Chinese is perhaps the world’s most adaptable cuisine. It evolves according to the people, places and the ingredients available. America has its own line of Chinese favorites that the Chinese in China might not even have heard of. Similarly, there is a whole range of supposed “Chinese” food in India that is an absolute favorite among the masses. And you guessed it right, the Chinese don’t even know what these things are! This “Indo-Chinese” cuisine comes from the north eastern states of India, which are on the China border. These people have uniquely adopted the Chinese way of cooking and the basic ingredients into an exquisite cuisine.
The “Manchurian” is one such favorite. Be it Chicken, vegetable, gobhi (cauliflower), baby-corn or paneer manchurian, it is hands down the best Indo-Chinese food!!! It is a very versatile recipe, one of the above ingredients is coated in a light batter of all purpose flour (maida) and corn flour and deep fried. Then these fritters are coated in a spicy-sweet-tangy sauce, with loads of ginger & garlic. Its all saucy goodness!! There are many variations of this recipe, all are more or less the same, just the ratio of ingredients changes. This is the recipe I have always used and it is yum!
For the fritters:
Cauliflower florets – from 1 medium head
Oil – for deep frying
All purpose flour – 3/4 cup
Corn flour – 3/4 cup (See note below)
Soya Sauce – 1 Tbsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste
Water – as required (about 1 to 1 1/4 cup)
Note: This recipe uses Corn flour which is not same as the Corn Starch. You can find the corn flour in the Indian grocery stores. If you cannot find corn flour, use 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch.
For the Manchurian Sauce:
Soya Sauce – 3 Tbsp
Red Chili Sauce – 2 Tbsp
Green Chili Sauce – 2 Tbsp
Tomato Ketchup – 3-5 Tbsp (adjust to taste)
White Vinegar – 1 Tbsp (see Tip below)
Oil – 3 Tbsp
Green Pepper/Capsicum – 1 large (cubed)
Onion – 1 medium (cubed)
Green Chilies – 2-5 (adjust to taste)
Ginger – 1 inch piece (minced)
Garlic – 8-10 cloves (minced)
Spring onions/Scallions – 1 bunch (whites & greens separately chopped)
Salt- to taste
Water – 1 1/4 cup
Corn Starch/Flour – 1 Tbsp
Water – 2 Tbsp
For the fritters:
- Mix the ingredients mentioned for the batter in a bowl (except the cauliflower and oil)and make a thin batter, that will just lightly coat the cauliflower florets.
- Wash and drain the cauliflower florets. Preferably, make small florets.
- Heat oil for deep frying in a saucepan. Once the oil is hot, dip the cauliflower florets in the batter (coating them lightly), and gently drop in the oil in batches. Deep fry on medium-high heat until golden brown and cooked evenly. Drain on paper towels.
For the Sauce:
- Mix all the sauces and vinegar in a separate bowl and keep aside.
- Heat oil in a wide mouthed/flat bottomed non-stick pan. Once the oil is heated, add the minced ginger, garlic, chopped green chillies and white portion of the spring onions and saute for 30 secs.
- Add the onions and green peppers and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauces from step 4 and cook for another minute or two on high heat. Add the water and adjust salt. (The sauces are all salty, so add salt only if required). Bring to a boil.
- Dissolve the corn starch/flour in 2 Tbsp of water and add to the boiling sauce and reduce the heat to medium. This will thicken the sauce. Once the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon when dipped in it, it is ready. Now Turn of the heat and add the cauliflower florets and toss gently to coat all the fritters very well. Sprinkle the chopped greens of the spring onions and keep covered for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Manchurian tastes best when the sauce soaks well into the fritters making it juicy and flavorful. People who like their manchurian slightly crispy, eat it immediately.