Friday, 20 January 2012

Gobi Manchurian


It's the year of the Dragon - a symbol of power, strength and luck. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, I decided to try out an Indo-Chinese recipe; a fusion of ingredients and cooking techniques from both cuisines developed by the Chinese community in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) in India. Some of you might already be familiar with the Indian dish 'Gobi-Aloo' (cauliflower and potatoes) - a simple and tasty vegetarian curry. Gobi Manchurian marries essential Indian ingredients such as garlic, ginger and onions (the holy trinity of Indian cuisine) with Chinese ingredients such as Soy sauce.

The following recipe has been adapted from this Gobi Manchurian recipe. I used Piment d'Espelette (chilli pepper from the Basque region) as my chilli powder choice for its sweet and fruity notes, and since we are fusing different cultures, this is the French touch! I also used honey instead of sugar to create that sweet and sour taste; and most importantly for its superfood properties.

The tomato and red chilli sauce in this recipe make this a fitting dish to serve for the Chinese New Year, with red being a symbolic colour in both the Chinese and Indian cultures, symbolizing prosperity in the former and purity in the latter. Unlike the negative connotations the colour red may have (passion, anger, lust), the only sin here is that a pure cream cauliflower could become, so devillish but heavenly tasting! The perfect Yin -Yang balance.

This Gobi Manchurian can be used as an appetizer (just insert toothpicks into individual florets) or as a main course served with noodles or rice.

Serves four as a main course 


Medium sized cauliflower
3 bruised cardamom pods

For the batter:
2 tbsp of corn flower
2 tbsp of plain flower
2cm ginger
3 medium garlic cloves
2 green chillies
3 tbsp warm water
½ tsp of ground piment d’Espelette

Sunflower oil for deep frying

For the sauce:
1 cm ginger julienned
2 medium garlic cloves sliced thinly
2 Scallions chopped
1 tsp red chilli sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp sesame oil
Chopped coriander

1.  Cut the cauliflower into florets, wash and blanch them with the cardamom pods. Drain and set the florets aside .
2. Prepare the batter. Put the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth batter.
3. Heat the sunflower oil in a deep frying pan. Coat the florets in the batter. Pop them in the oil (don't overcrowd them) and fry until golden (about 2-3 minutes).
4. Place the fried florets on absorbent kitchen towel to soak up the excess oil.
5. Prepare the sauce. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or frying pan, add the ginger, garlic and scallions. Sauté for 2 minutes on medium to high flame, stirring continuously.
6. Lower the flame to medium. Add the tomato, chilli and soy sauces, vinegar and honey. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Add a little water if the sauce sticks to the pan).
7. Finally add the fried cauliflower to the sauce and coat well.
8. Garnish with coriander to serve.

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