Cauliflower Manchurian

Cauliflower Manchurian5

A few years ago, Cauliflower Manchurian (Gobi Manchurian in Hindi), was a dish that I always ordered when I went to a restaurant in India. It was so popular that every home cook wanted to learn how to make it, including me. So, I searched for recipes, learned some tips from my brother-in-law, and also asked restaurant chefs for their secrets to making this slightly crunchy, sweet and sour, spicy and garlicky delicacy.

Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques are used in making this dish. All the ingredients can be purchased at Indian grocery stores. You may even find them in the ethnic aisle of your major grocery store.  So, follow the recipe carefully and I am sure you will be pleased with the result. Cauliflower Manchurian is great as an appetizer or as a side dish with rotis or rice.

Cauliflower Manchurian
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

For the Cauliflower Manchurian
1 cauliflower (2 pounds), cut into florets
½ cup corn starch
½ cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons rice flour, (optional)
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder
1 teaspoon pepper powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons water + 2 tablespoons of water
Oil for deep frying

Microwave the cauliflower florets in two tablespoons of water for three minutes. Let stand for five minutes then drain and cool. Make a smooth batter with corn starch, flour, rice flour, chilli, pepper, salt, and six tablespoons of water. The batter should not be too thick or too thin, but it should be able to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Add a little more water if needed.

Heat a wok with enough oil for deep frying, about three inches. The oil is ready, when a very small dollop of batter that is put into the hot oil, comes up in a few seconds. Dip five or six cauliflower florets into the batter and fry until golden brown. Drain on a paper-towel lined tray.

For the Sauce
3 tablespoons sesame seed oil or canola oil
½ cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped green chilli, (depending on heat and your preference)
6 tablespoons chilli garlic sauce, (depending on your preference)
6 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
3 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons diagonally sliced spring onions, (green parts only)
2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds

In a saucepan, over medium-high heat, add oil. When the oil is shimmering, add shallots and fry until translucent. Add garlic and green chilli and sauté for two minutes. Add chilli garlic sauce, tomato ketchup, dark soy sauce, chilli powder, salt, and water.  Stir for a few seconds. Remove from heat.

Add the cauliflower manchurian to the sauce, five minutes before serving. This will keep them crisp. Garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds. Your slightly crunchy, sweet and sour, spicy and garlicky appetizer is ready to be served.

Medu Vada


Medu vadais are one of my favorite tea-time snacks, but I cannot say that I am an expert at making them. However, I don’t give up easily and I think I’ve finally found the secret of making crisp on the outside, and light, and fluffy on the inside, medu vadais. As I’ve mentioned in the recipe, you have to beat the batter until it is the right consistency. You can test if the batter is ready by dropping a small dollop into a bowl of water.  If it floats, then the batter is ready.  If not, beat the batter a little more and test again.

In the picture the medu vadais I’ve made are smaller in size because I wanted to use them as a tea-time snack. If you would like to use them for breakfast or as a side dish then you may wish to make them larger in size. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. But try it out, and I am sure you will succeed. The end result are crisp, light, flavorful medu vadais so don’t give up.

Medu Vada

1 cup whole black lentils (urad dal)
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped curry leaves
2 teaspoons finely chopped green chillies
2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
A pinch of asafoetida
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Roast and powder
1 tablespoon black lentils (urad dal)
1 teaspoon uncooked rice

Soak the 1 cup black lentils in water, overnight. Roast one tablespoon of black lentils and one teaspoon of uncooked rice until fragrant and lightly colored. Cool completely and powder in a coffee grinder.

Drain the lentils that were soaked in water, and grind in a bender adding about two tablespoons of water. Do this in two batches scrapping down to make sure all the lentils become a smooth thick batter. Put the batter into a large bowl and fold in the roasted lentil and rice power. Beat the batter well with a spatula until light. To test if the batter us ready, drop a tiny amount into a small bowl of water if it floats the batter is ready. However, if the batter sinks you will need to beat the batter a little more.

Heat a wok over medium-high heat and add oil for deep frying. Dip your fingers in a small bowl of water. Take a heaping tablespoon of the batter and roll it into a ball. Make a hole in the center with your thumb. It should look like a small doughnut. Gently slide it into the oil.

Turn the medu vadais when the edges turn golden. Fry both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve vadais with your favorite chutney.