April 10, 2019

Gobi Manchurian (baked)

‘Are you ready for your order?’ asks the waiter.
‘Gobi Manchurian for now, give us two minutes to order the rest.’
Familiar?? Gobi Manchurian or Cauliflower Manchurian is a staple appetizer for most of us, right. Unless otherwise we plan on trying something ‘different’. Who doesn’t love an Indo-Chinese item that hits all the right spots and leaves you delighted!

Preparing Manchurian or for that matter any Indo-chinese item at home is not too complicated, it’s just about a few sauces and mixing and tossing. This time around, I decided to bake - instead of frying the battered cauliflower. Less oil, same taste!
One important prep-work is chopping the ginger and garlic finely. I won’t say it’s a tedious or difficult task; but it sure is much easier with a good quality large knife. That makes it easier to chop the ginger and garlic very fine. My best knife till date for this is The Pioneer Woman’s stainless steel Santoku knife with rustic wooden handle. It is a medium priced knife which chops beautifully.
Another of my favorite knives is a ceramic knife by Farberware. Though this one is not great for chopping ginger/garlic, it slices veggies and onions like a breeze.

Knowing your knives is very important if you value your time spent in the kitchen chopping and slicing. Most of us enjoy cooking, yet how we wish chopping was done by someone else right?? Well, if you choose a right knife for the right job, that will also be an interesting chore and you will start enjoying it. That said, check out a few stunning Japanese knives here along with the nitty-gritty of each Japanese knife explained in a language easy to follow. This site by Joe Hughes is a haven for cooking tips and for reviews and suggestions on kitchen appliances!

Ah, while chopping the Ginger-Garlic into the tiniest bits is crucial, there’s another indispensable ingredient that I use for my Indo-chinese recipes – Schezwan Chutney by Chings. It works like magic to flavour the whole dish.

For the baked battered cauliflower:
Cauliflower florets – 3 cups or about 500 gms
All purpose flour – 3 tbsp
Corn flour – 2 ½ tbsp
Schezwan chutney – 2 tbsp
Oil – 1 tsp
For the sauce:
Ginger – 2 inch piece
Garlic – 7 big
Green chilli - 3
Pepper powder – 1 tsp
Vinegar – 1 tsp
Soy sauce – 2 tsp
Schezwan chutney – 1 tbsp
Slurry of 1 tsp Corn flour + 2 tsp water
Onion – 1 small
Green bell pepper – half
Red bell pepper – half
Spring onions/scallions – 5 sprigs
Coriander leaves – 7-8 sprigs

How I prepare:
  1. Mix the All purpose flour, corn flour, schezwan chutney, oil and salt in a bowl and add 1-2 tbsp of water, make a paste. We need a fairly thick paste that can coat all the florets evenly without leaving us with leftover batter.
    Well coated florets
  2. Drop the cauliflower florets into this paste, coat each of them well. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with foil or parchment paper and place each floret on it. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning them once after 15 min. Next brush the florets with some oil and increase the heat to 400 degrees and bake for 5 min for crisp florets. Once done, remove into a bowl.
  3. For the sauce, take 3 tbsp of oil in a pan/wok. Chop Ginger, garlic and green chillies finely. Cube the bell peppers and remove layers of quarter of one onion and keep aside. Chop the rest of the onion into small pieces for the sauce.
    Cubed Bell peppers & onions
  4. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry for a minute. Next add finely chopped onions, onion layers or squares and bell peppers and the bulb part of scallions. Add pepper powder, vinegar, soy sauce, schezwan chutney, salt and let them all enjoy each other's company for a few minutes. Next add the slurry of corn flour plus water so that we have a saucy texture.
  5. Once these veggies are cooked in the sauce, add the baked cauliflowers and chopped scallions or spring onions and coriander leaves. Toss like a pro and serve hot!

You won’t have to worry about refrying or reusing any deepfried oil, thanks to the baked gobi.
Even better, avoiding deep frying translates to fewer calorie intake! Just enjoy this Manchurian as an appetizer or a side to fried rice/noodles!!

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