Not that I pretend to know any of the Hindi language, but thanks to my favorite Indian dish, aloo gobi, I know that the word gobi means cauliflower. While I have aloo gobi as my go to dish to order when at an Indian restaurant, long ago I tried another cauliflower dish, only this was by way of China.
Gobi Manchurian is an Indo-Chinese fried cauliflower dish that’s popular in India and is the result of the adaptation of Chinese cooking and seasoning techniques to suit Indian tastes. If there’s one thing I love in the culinary world, it’s dishes that have been adapted by another country or culture to suit their own individual palates (the only positive of colonialism).
Weeks ago I had bought a head of cauliflower and it had sat unused in my refrigerator until I knew that I would need to take action lest I let it spoil for good (some of the florets were starting to brown). And so, off to Saveur’s website I went where I actually discovered a whole section on cauliflower recipes. While a couple sounded particularly good, none really grabbed my attention until I saw on the sidebar a recipe for “Indian-Chinese Sweet and Spicy Fried Cauliflower.” What to do with my near-to browning cauliflower head was finally decided.
As is often the case, this turned out to be one of those recipes where your kitchen resembles a minor disaster zone by the end. It’s not that it was necessarily a difficult or time consuming recipe, but rather one requiring a multiple step process, so hence more mess and clutter being created from it.
I didn’t find my batter to be as smooth and creamy as I would have liked (or what I would have gotten in an Indian restaurant), but it worked. I didn’t use peanut oil as the recipe suggested since I didn’t have any, but standard canola oil seemed to work just fine. I realize frying cauliflower definitely cancels out any nutritional value associated with it, but once in a while one needs to bend the rules for the sake of eating ethnic (deep fried Oreos do not count).
As someone who loves cauliflower, this dish was obviously a treat, but another reason I liked it is that it breaks the stereotype that all Indian food is spicy and deathly hot. The recipe that I used is not, although it does offer a suggestion if you want a spicier sauce. However, if you’re like me, and prefer food more on the mild and meek side, then you will definitely enjoy this version of Gobi Manchurian. I could almost equate it to a type of sweet and sour sauce.
It’s a great meal to make for a meatless Monday or a meatless Friday during the season of Lent.
To check out the recipe for Gobi Manchurian click here.