There are few things I love more than vegetarian Indian food. I love the spices, the complexity of the flavors, the amazing variety of ingredients, and the special techniques like adding spiced oil to temper a dish at the end that completes the flavor. While living in Japan I learned something that had not occurred to me before; that when foods from other places enters a country or region, local residents often adapt it to suit their own tastes and end up creating something entirely new. The Japanese take on an “Italian” pizza that is festooned with mayonnaise or corn is an excellent example of this. I had not thought much about how the same would be true in India until I accompanied a friend to her favorite allergen-sensitive Indian restaurant (yes they exist- in this case, the owners actually know what is in each and every dish and will tell their customers). She ordered a dish called Gobi Manchurian, or Manchurian Cauliflower that she said was amazing, with Chinese “red sauce” flavor on top of fried cauliflower that approximated a vegetarian “chicken”. Dear readers, do beware. It is extremely rare that this dish would be gluten-free, as the cauliflower is coated in a flour batter. It would also generally be fried in oil with non-gluten-free items and could easily be contaminated this way. However, in this special case, the Manchurian Cauliflower is safe and she urged me to try some. This is such a decadent way to enjoy cauliflower, and the flavor is amazing. After I got home I started researching recipes online so that I could create it at home.
According to Archana’s Kitchen, Gobi Manchurian “is said to have been developed by the tiny Chinese community that lived in Kolkata for over a century. Immensely popular with Indians, it is widespread in major Indian metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, New Delhi and most importantly Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).” After comparing various recipes online, I was most intrigued by Soma of ECurry’s recipe for Gobi Manchurian. Soma has an absolutely fantastic blog, and it turns out that she is from the city of Kolkata/Calcutta and so grew up enjoying Indo-Chinese fusion food. That explains a lot! However, if I tried her recipe as written, the extreme spiciness of it would make my intestines explode and all that would be left of me is a little charred bit of ash on the sidewalk. Yes, I’m a wimpy little gluten-free girl. My husband and baby are also not so into the chili peppers, so in the interest of family tummy harmony, I adapted it to be gluten-free and less spicy. The resulting dish was a hit with everyone, although Baby Yum stuck to the plain fried cauliflower. I hope you enjoy! One of my favorite things about the internet is how we can learn from bloggers from all over the world. Archana, Soma, and Manjula are three of my absolute favorite Indian bloggers, and I have learned so much from all of their recipes and stories. What are your favorite “fusion” recipes and international bloggers? Tell me in the comments! I’d love to hear what your favorite recipes are by Archana, Soma, and Manjula as well.
Entered in Gluten-free Wednesdays
Gluten-free Vegan Gobi Manchurian Cauliflower Recipe
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets (small or medium)
1 cup your favorite gluten-free flour*
1/2 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari OR coconut aminos
1 1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated with a microplane
1 tablespoon white scallion paste (white part of scallion ground up in food processor or blender)
1 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper)
3/4 cup water to make a thick batter
oil to deep fry the cauliflower florets
Mix together your flours, corn starch, tamari, ginger, scallion paste (ground up in a mini food processor), white pepper and water. You want a thick batter, like pakora batter or a slightly thick pancake batter.
Immerse your cauliflower in boiling water, rinsing with cold water when they are crisp tender and then spinning dry in a salad spinner (or pat dry in a kitchen towel).
Cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of wax paper and then put a cooling rack on top of the cookie sheet for cooling your fried cauliflower.
This fried cauliflower makes a delicious snack. Baby Yum loved stealing it from the rack and kept saying “more, more”. That girl loves her cauliflower!
If you want to really amp it up, prepare a sauce for the full Gobi Manchurian experience.
Whisk together liquid ingredients (water, ketchup, srirachi sauce, tamari) along with sugar and salt in a bowl.
Heat your 3 sesame oil in a wok. Add your garlic clove and let it brown, flavoring the oil. Turn once. When both sides are brown, remove the garlic from the oil. Add your grated ginger, and saute for a few seconds. Then add the chopped onions, and the white parts of the scallions. When the onion becomes translucent, add your liquid ingredients in the bowl to the wok. At medium heat simmer for about 3 minutes.
Whisk the corn starch with the water to make a cornstarch slurry and add to the pan, stirring in and letting the sauce begin to thicken. Toss in your fried cauliflower and fold into the sauce until each floret is coated in yummy sauce. To serve, sprinkle with the green onions and enjoy with rice or quinoa!
*I used a homemade Sorghum +potato or cornstarch +tapioca blend
Two cups sorghum flour
Two thirds cup potato starch, arrowroot or corn starch flour
One third cup tapioca rice flour
This makes 3 cups of gluten-free blend which you can use in regular gluten recipes to replace flour.