I think when people imagine the cuisine from India, they imagine a monolith of chicken tikka masala and naan. Those things are definitely delicious, but India is surrounded by influences of the countries it is bordered by as well as its internal diversity. A land of over 213 dialects, the food has just as many cultural influences. Although China and India have many political strifes at this point especially regarding land allocation which has impacted immigration highly, gobhi manchurian is a remnant of how things were functioning in the past. Gobhi manchurian is fried cauliflower in a sauce that has the fusion of desi and chinese flavors. Originally theorized to be conceived by Chinese immigrants in Kolkata who arrived from the Hakka region, its adaptation and consumption became extremely popular in northern India. Of course if you look this up on wiki it will call it curry because western worlds can never grasp any dish with gravy outside of that word. That rant will come later this week 🙂
In the small town of jamshetpur where I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents, there was a small shop that would sell chop suey and manchurian. An indo-chinese take on food. On days when you didn’t want to go to the local dhaba or be satisfied by snacks by street vendors, this was our go to place and a treat we would look forward to.
When we moved here, I used to think about that place a lot because at the time that particular fusion was pretty scarce even in california. This recipe was born out of the trials and errors that one of my aunts and I worked on in my teens.
- 2 cups cauliflower broken into florets
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- corn starch to dredge
- oil to shallow fry
- 2 tbsps oil
- 5-6 dried red chilies
- 2 green chilies
- 5 stalks of green onion
- 1 bell pepper
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsps white wine vinegar
- 4 tbsps chili paste
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
For the fritters: Heat up about a cup of oil in a shallow pan on high. In a bowl, combine the flour soy sauce, chili powder and cumin with a couple tbsps water to make a thick but still liquidy mixture. Take the broken up florets and dip and coat.
Drop them into the corn starch to dredge. Lower the flame to medium and drop the florets into the oil. Drop them into the corn starch to dredge. give about 2-3 minutes on each side. You can also steam the cauliflower before coating but I like having mine with a little bit of a bite to them.
Let the fritters dry off as we prep the sauce. In a cup combine the liquid ingredients, corn starch, and brown sugar. Set aside. Turn the stove to medium high and let the pan heat up. Drop in the oil, ginger, garlic, and red chilies.
Add the bell peppers as the ingredients brown and become aromatic. Once they are sauteed, add the soy mixture, green chili, and green onion and bring the sauce to a boil.
Once the sauce starts to get thicker, add the caulifower and gently fold into the sauce. Be careful not to over stir as that will break the florets.
Serve over rice or noodles and top with sesame, scallions, or cilantro. A vegan meal that will take your friends by surprise 🙂