Gobi Manchurian is just about the best thing you can do with a cauliflower. Soft, bite-sized florets of cauliflower, coated in a light and crispy tempura batter, deep fried and served in a sweet, spicy and sticky sauce. What’s not to like?
There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Gobi Manchurian – not commonly seen in menus on the UK, it’s a dish of Indo-Chinese influence that doesn’t appear to have made the leap west. Give it time.
It seems there are two versions of Gobi Manchurian; one dry, one with sauce. These are served as a starter and main course, respectively. This recipe falls somewhere in the middle – my preference – though you can easily modify the quantity of sauce to suit your own tastes.
Speaking to the batter, I find a light tempura to be a fantastic choice, perhaps because the florets won’t end up engulfed in sauce. Many similar recipes call for a regular batter, which you could opt for, but the soda water used in tempura results in a compellingly crispy finish. Utterly irresistible.
For the cauliflower
- 1 large cauliflower
- 150g plain flour
- 75g cornflour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp salt
- soda water, refrigerated
- enough sunflower oil for deep frying
For the Manchurian sauce
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 green pepper, finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely sliced
- 1 green chilli, finely sliced
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- a twist of black pepper
- salt, to taste (will depend on sauces used above)
- 1-2 tbsp water
- Split the cauliflower in manageable florets, transfer to a saucepan, cover with boiling water and pop the lid on. Leave to stand for 5 minutes before draining.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornflour, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Using a whisk, incorporate enough soda water into the flours to yield a smooth batter, just thick enough to coat your finger. A bit like melted ice cream.
- Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or wok (190C if you’re unsure). Coat the florets in the batter one by one, dropping them carefully into the oil until golden brown and crispy. Don’t be tempted to do more than a few at once. Drain on kitchen towels to remove excess oil.
- Meanwhile, sauté the onion and green pepper in the oil until softened – around 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, ginger and chilli, giving them a further 2 minutes.
- Stir through the soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, vinegar, sugar and pepper. Season with salt to taste, and add enough water to make a sauce thick enough to coat your cauliflower.
- Leave the sauce to simmer on a very low heat until you’ve finished frying your cauliflower. Then, tip the golden-brown florets into your Manchurian sauce, coat evenly and serve immediately.
Cost: This frugal cooking job does itself sometimes – how much can a main meal based around a single cauliflower cost? Well, in this case the answer is £2.50 in total – around 80p per portion.