March 28, 2013

gobi manchurian

In an interesting twist of fate, I actually no longer live in the Berkshires. I am still cooking up a storm every day and would like to continue to share my vegan creations on this blog.

My hubby and I moved to the greater Boston area at the beginning of this month. We have explored some restaurants in town and found a nice vegetarian place named Red Lentil. When we were there for the first time, curious as to what others were ordering, I looked around in a discreet manner. I would say more than half of the customers were enjoying a plateful of "something" tossed in red sauce. I couldn't figure out what it was then (and I'm too shy to ask) but after we got home, I did some research and learned that it was one of the restaurant's most popular appetizers: gobi manchurian.

Gobi manchurian is an Indian Chinese dish prepared by deep frying cauliflower coated with corn flour batter. It could be served dry like fritters but the kind at Red Lentil is tossed in a tomato-y sweet and sour sauce.

So when we went back, we knew exactly what to order. The cauliflower florets were nice and crispy and the sauce that gently coated the nuggets was sweet and tangy. The flavor reminded me of a sweet and sour pork dish that I had when I was a kid.

I could eat a big bowl of this every day, I thought. Dangerously addictive. I had to make this at home. After a few attempts, I think I successfully cracked the "code." Here's my version without refined sugar, cilantro and bell peppers.


2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 yellow onion, sliced in half moons
1/3 cup tomato purée
1/3 cup apple juice
1/3 cup water
1 TBS barley malt OR brown rice syrup
2 tsp shoyu OR gluten-free tamari
1 tsp ume vinegar
1 TBS kuzu, mixed with 1 TBS water
dashes of white pepper and cayenne pepper

1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup corn flour
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/2 cup + 2 TBS water
1 tsp virgin sesame oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
pinch of baking powder
dash of paprika

safflower oil for deep frying
chopped parsley for garnish


1. To prepare the sauce: Sauté garlic and ginger in sesame oil. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add tomato purée, apple juice, water and barley malt (or rice syrup, if you wish to make it gluten free). Cook for a few minutes until it comes to a boil. Add shoyu (or tamari) and ume vinegar and simmer. Thicken the mixture with kuzu and finish it off with some white pepper and cayenne. Set it aside.

2. To prepare the cauliflower fritters: Prepare the batter by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. Put a few inches of oil in a cast-iron Dutch oven (or a heavy pot that you use for deep frying) and heat it up on medium flame. The oil is ready when you put a drop of batter and it floats to the top right away. Dip a handful of cauliflower florets into the batter and fry the pieces until golden brown, turning over each one to cook both sides. Drain on paper towel and repeat. The nuggets are also quite tasty on their own (which is actually the dry version of gobi manchurian).

3. To finish off: Toss the fried cauliflower pieces into the sauce and mix to coat evenly. Stir in some chopped parsley and serve. Enjoy while it's hot and crispy!