Gobi (Cauliflower) Manchurian

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What do you say of a nice romantic date? I say maybe we go out to a fine place for a cozy candle light dinner… or I make you sandwiches and you carry a picnic hamper as we head out to the beach… lets go back to our teens and catch a nice movie in a theatre with a huge bag of popcorn and coke… if not then lets shut down all the gadgets and let me cook you a nice dinner that we will then have on bed, we can tuck our feet into the comforter, maybe share a glass of wine and chat aimlessly like those initial days. Will it bring a smile on your lips? Will that make you happy? I know it will…

To the good times then, now and forever…

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Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower – 1/2 medium, cut into small florets
  • Oil – for deep frying

For the batter:

  • All purpose flour – 5 tbsp
  • Cornstarch – 3 tbsp (flour:cornstarch will always be in 5:3 ratio)
  • Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste (If you are adding Soy sauce which already is salty, add accordingly)
  • Black Pepper powder – to taste
  • Red chilli powder – to taste
  • Soy Sauce – 1 tbsp (optional but adding it gives a nice deep color)
  • Paprika – optional, to be used for extra red color
  • Water – to make a thick batter

For the sauce:

  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • Onion – 1/2 medium, finely chopped
  • Garlic, finely chopped – 3-4 colves
  • Green chillies, finely chopped – to taste (since you are adding chilli sauce adjust accordingly)
  • Soy Sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Chilli Sauce – 2 tsp (adjust to taste)
  • Tomato Sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste (soy sauce has some salt in it so add accordingly)
  • Sugar (optional) use only if required – sometimes if the sauce becomes too tangy you might need to add little sugar, check the taste first and then decide if you need to add it.

Note: The quantities for the sauces mentioned are approximates since I never measure them while pouring. Just eye ball it, add little at first,  taste it and add more if required.

For Garnishing: (use any of these)

  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Chilli vinegar – optional but adds a great flavor. Follow instructions mentioned below on how to prepare this.
  • Chopped green chillies – for extra spice
  • Spring onions, roughly chopped – I did not use it this time

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Method:

Marinate and deep fry:

  • Soak the florets in hot (not boiling) water for 2-3 minutes. Drain completely and pat dry.
  • In a bowl add all the ingredients for the batter except water and mix well. Add little water at time and keep mixing with a whisk to get a thick batter of pouring consistency. Do a taste test and adjust the spices accordingly.
  • Add the florets and mix them so that they are well coated with the batter. You can add some extra flour if the batter is too thin or add extra water if it is too thick.

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  • Keep aside the marinated florets for almost an hour to a couple of hours, the longer the better.
  • Heat oil in a deep fryer / pan. Once hot add the florets in batches and fry them till they are cooked and turn golden. Do not over fry or they will turn mushy.

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Note: The first time I was making this, I got the proportions messed up so that batter was falling off when frying. Once the entire batch was done, I added the fried florets in the leftover batter again and re-fried them.

  • Drain the fried florets onto a paper towel.

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Prepare the sauce:

  • Heat up a pan and add 1 tbsp of oil. If using the same pan as used for deep frying the florets remove the oil leaving almost a tbsp of oil.
  • Add the chopped onions, garlic, green chillies and fry for a couple of minutes until the onions turn translucent.
  • Add all the other ingredients – sauces, salt and sugar (if needed) and mix well.
  • Sprinkle some water and cook for a couple of minutes so that it comes to a light boil. Check taste and adjust salt and the sauces accordingly.

Note: If you want you can prepare the sauce before hand. Fry the florets just before serving as they will loose the crispiness if kept for a while. You can assemble the dish just before eating.

Assemble the dish:

  • Reheat the sauce if made previously.
  • Add the florets to the sauce. Mix gently.
  • Garnish with any of these – chopped cilantro, green chillies, chilli vinegar or chopped spring onions.

How to make chilli vinegar:

You can use this for any Chinese / Indo-Chinese cooking. So if you need it very frequently make in large quantity or else if you are going to use it once in a while like it do make a smaller portion.

  • Take 3-4 tbsp of white vinegar.
  • Roughly or finely chop 2-3 green chillies and add them (along with the seeds) to the vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Use it for garnishing.

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Serve it as a side or a starter.

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