It’s been long since I posted a recipe! And it’s been longer since I promised to post my Gobi Manchurian recipe! So, here it is. I have to warn you though. This is not the usual Gobi Manchurian you get in most restaurants. I quite dislike that version actually…the cauliflower is coated with a thick batter, is orange in color and comes slathered in a cornstarch-heavy gravy…as if one needed anything else to hide the taste, color and texture of this poor vegetable! May be I shouldn’t call this dish Gobi Manchurian at all. But then, what’s in a name! Call it whatever you feel like.
My recipe is inspired from the Gobi Manchurian served at a restaurant called Chinese Mirch in NYC (they also make a heavenly crispy okra!). From what I can gather, they coat the cauliflower florets in a thin batter, fry them lightly and then, gently toss them with onion, garlic, green chillies, ginger and garnish with cilantro. This results in a perfect appetizer/snack. Now, I don’t have their batter recipe, so I have experimented with a few different combinations and the one below comes closest to their dish.
For those of you not familiar with the Indian-Chinese cuisine, read this. There are no ‘manchurian’ dishes in Chinese-Chinese cuisine. Chicken Manchurian and Gobi Manchurian are the inventions of Nelson Wang, who was born in Calcutta/Kolkata to immigrant parents from China. When you are in Mumbai/Bombay next, do eat at his legendary restaurant, China Garden.
Ok, back to the recipe now! A lot of the ingredients below are to taste. All I ask of you is to not let them overpower the cauliflower!
- Cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- Rice flour, 1/2 cup
- Baking powder, 1/2 tablespoon
- Black pepper powder
- Ginger, minced
- Garlic, minced
- Green chillies, finely chopped
- Soy sauce
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Dry mango powder or amchoor (Lemon juice can also be used instead)
- Vegetable oil
- Combine the rice flour with baking powder, salt and pepper (to taste). Whisk in cold water to make a thin batter.
- Heat oil in a pan and fry the batter-coated cauliflower florets just until they turn light brown on the edges.
Some general tips about frying: Make sure that the oil is not too hot or too cold before you start frying. If it is too hot, the outside will cook much faster than the inside. If it is too cold, the florets will become oily. Always test a small piece first and never crowd the pan because that will bring the oil temperature down.
(I also ate some batter-fried scallions..he he!)
- In a wok, heat a little oil. When it’s hot, add ginger, garlic and green chillies. Saute for 10 seconds. Make sure, they don’t turn brown. You need to do everything very quickly. Sprinkle a little soy sauce (not so much that it discolors the cauliflower) and then toss in the fried cauliflower and toss everything together. If you want, you can also add a little red chilli sauce.
- Turn off the flame and mix in the chopped scallions and some dry mango powder. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
- Taste and adjust the level of salt, chillies and dry mango powder.
- Spend the next hour thinking about how happy cooking and eating can make you!
Trivia: Calcutta is the only Indian city to have a Chinatown!!