Cauliflower? Really?… Oh hell yeah! Sweet, Spicy, Sticky, Salty, Crunchy! These are the reasons Gobi Manchurian is one of my favorite dishes.
I have to thank my ex-girlfriend for introducing me to this dish at my(now) favorite Indian Restaurant, Udupi Cafe, in Tempe. When the bright red, steaming dish hit the table, I didn’t know what to expect, but the combination of crunchy texture, followed by sticky sweetness and then a familiar growing chile spice made me happier and happier each bite I took. It was the standout for the night, and on many return visits.
I eventually decided to roll up my sleeves and start experimenting with recipes I could find online. I learned that the secrets to this dish are not terribly complicated, and my home version may even be better than Udupi’s. I’ve adapted my favorite recipe, and encourage anyone to give it a try if they want to impress friends and family with a tasty unexpected treat.
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Yellow Onion, Diced
1 Leek, Diced
Chiles (I use 6 Thai chiles, Diced, but I like it hot! Feel free to use Serrano or Pasilla peppers if you cant find Thai, and use less if you don’t want it to be very hot.)
1/4 Cup Ketchup
6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/4 Cup Chile Garlic Sauce(I use a mix of Chile Garlic Sauce, Sriracha and Fermented Red Chile Paste, but straight Chile Garlic Sauce works well)
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1/3 Cup of Water mixed with 2 Tbsp Corn Starch
5 Tbsp Rice Flour
5 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
6 Tbsp Corn Starch
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
3/4 Cup Water
1 Head of Cauliflower(cut into small pieces)
Vegetable Oil for frying
1 Bunch of Green Onions, sliced for garnish
The Manchurian sauce can be prepared ahead of time, so let’s start with that.
Prep the leeks, onions, chiles and garlic.
Prep your liquid ingredients, or have the bottles and measuring devices on hand and ready to go.
Heat the oil in the pan and sautee the Leeks, Onions and Chiles for a couple minutes until soft. Add the Garlic and cook a few more minutes until lightly browned.
Add the Chile and Ketchup and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce looks shiny and combined.
Add the Soy Sauce and White Vinegar and stir using a rubber spatula to get any cooked sauce off the bottom of the pan.
Finish the sauce with the Corn Starch and Water slurry to loosen the mixture and give it that sticky, glossy shine. Remove from heat and move onto the Cauliflower.
I find the best way to tackle the Cauliflower is to split it in half and then cut off the stems from the bottom up.
You want to cut the individual florets down into bite-sized pieces about the size of your thumb. (Unless you have freakish thumbs, in which case, use your best judgement)
Mix the batter ingredients together and whisk until smooth. The batter should be fairly thin.
Coat the Cauliflower in the batter. Give them a good stir to make sure they’re coated on all sides.
Shake off any extra batter and drop the cauliflower into the hot oil, one at a time. If you have a fry thermometer, shoot for 350°, otherwise test the oil by dropping in a bit of batter and seeing if it floats to the surface. Cook for about 6 minutes or until your cauliflower looks like…
This! Delicious, golden brown, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside! Hit them with a pinch of salt when they come out of the oil and are still hot.
Now the only thing left to do is heat up the sauce and give them a nice coating.
This is how I traditionally have them, but lately I’ve been enjoying them mixed, with some sauced and spicy and some just plain and crunchy! Play around with it and you decide!
Let me know if you try out the recipe, or want to see anything else cooked!