(cheerful music) – On a past trip to Asheville, North Carolina, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with chef Meherwan Irani at his Indian street food restaurant called Chai Pani. While we were dining together, one of the dishes we ate was called Gobi Manchurian, which is essentially deep fried cauliflower florets tossed in a pungent sweet, sour, spicy sauce. Now, Gobi Manchurian has its roots in the Chinese communities of India and there are many, many versions of this dish out there, but we took some inspiration from Chai Pani and created our own version here at Cook’s Country. And it all begins with the cauliflower. So this is a 2.
5 pound head of cauliflower. We’re gonna go ahead and first trim off the stem so it’s flush with the base of the cauliflower. And at the end of the trimming, we’re gonna want about one pound of cauliflower florets. At this point, we’re going to break off any big chunks of leaves here that are attached to the core of the cauliflower. And then we’re gonna use a paring knife to break it down from here.
So what you wanna do is insert the pairing knife halfway between the center of the core and the top of the floret. Insert it at about a 30 degree angle until most of the blade of the knife goes in. Now we’re just gonna use a simple sawing up and down motion as we move around the cauliflower and we’re gonna rotate the cauliflower counterclockwise as we go. And as you start to make these rotations, you’ll notice that the florets start to loosen and you could either stop at this point and pull some of ’em off or you can keep on cutting until you have this little core removed.
At this point, again with the pairing knife, insert it about three quarters of the way into the stem of the cauliflower and simply twist the knife.
That creates a natural break in the cauliflower so you don’t get a ton of the cauliflower rubble on the cutting board and it’s less waste at the end of the day. So we’re looking for 1.5″ cauliflower florets for this recipe. So we started with a 2.5 pound head of cauliflower, but we are only gonna need one pound of florets for this recipe.
With the cauliflower broken down, we could turn our attention to the sauce. So we’re gonna start our sauce off with 1/4 cup of ketchup. And to that, we’re going to add three tablespoons of water, two tablespoons of soy sauce, one tablespoon of chili-garlic sauce, two teaspoons of fresh lime juice, 3/4 of teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin. So we’ll just stir this up.
Okay, and we could set that aside for a moment.
Now we’re also going to lightly saute some aromatics. So we have some scallions here. We’re gonna start off with the three scallions. We’re gonna just trim the root ends of the scallions off, trim off some of the limp green part at the top, and then we’re going to separate the whites and the greens of the scallions. The whites we’re gonna cook and add to the sauce.
The greens we’re gonna save and use for garnish. Okay, I have two tablespoons of vegetable oil heating up in this small sauce pan over medium-high heat and it’s just starting to shimmer. So to that we could add our three sliced scallion whites, three cloves of minced garlic, and one tablespoon of grated fresh ginger.
I’ll just give that a stir. And we’re really only trying to bloom these flavors.
That takes about 90 seconds. So the scallions, ginger, and garlic have really started to release a lot of their flavor. They’re very fragrant at the moment and they’re starting to soften. At this point, we’re going to add our ketchup mixture and we’re just gonna bring this to a bare simmer and then remove it from the heat. The sauce doesn’t have to really reduce or anything.
We’re just trying to combine all the flavors by just bringing ’em to a quick boil.
Okay, that has come to a quick boil and we’re actually gonna transfer our sauce to the bowl we’ll end up tossing the fried cauliflower in at the end of frying. And in the meantime, we’re gonna clean up and get ready to fry. Now we’re ready to start frying our Gobi Manchurian. I have two quarts of vegetable oil that’s heating up here to 375 degrees over medium heat in this Dutch oven.
And while that’s coming up to temperature, we’re going to make our Gobi batter. We’re gonna be using 2/3 of a cup of all-purpose flour, along with 2/3 of a cup of corn starch.
To that we’re going to add one cup of water and then one teaspoon of table salt, and one teaspoon of baking powder, which will give fried cauliflower a nice lightness. So we’ll just whisk this together. When it’s all combined, it should be about the texture of pancake batter without the lumps.
All right, now that the batter’s made, we can go ahead and add our cauliflower directly to the batter. And we’ll just toss it around with a rubber spatula, just to coat it nice and evenly.
And the batter’s thick enough that it actually sticks to the cauliflower. Okay, our cauliflower is coated with the batter. We could check the temp of our oil at this point.
We’re looking for 375 degrees, and there we go. And you could use tongs if you’d like or you could just drop this in piece-by-piece with your fingers. I prefer my fingers. Carefully drop the cauliflower in. If you are using your fingers, you actually wanna get very close to the oil so you don’t create a splash and burn yourself.
It’s important that you take the time to drop each cauliflower floret in there separately so they don’t stick together as they cook. And now that they’re all added, we’ll take our spider and just give ’em a quick little stir to make sure none of ’em are sticking together. It’s been about five minutes and our cauliflower is lightly golden, very lightly golden, but, more importantly, that exterior coating on the cauliflower is nice and crisp.
So we’re gonna transfer them to a paper towel-lined sheet tray here. And it’s important to do this step because we’re trying to wick away any of the excess oil that may be stuck to those florets.
We’ll let it sit for about 15 seconds on each side, give ’em a flip, and we’re gonna let this cool down for about five minutes. It’s been five minutes and our cauliflower had time to sit and cool off a little bit and, more importantly, it’s had time to crisp up. Listen. Nice and crispy. So now we could take our cauliflower and turn it right into our Gobi sauce.
And we’re gonna also add our three scallion greens that we’ve sliced thin and we can just gently fold the Gobi with the sauce. So I’m just going in from the bottom with a soft rubber spatula and just scooping the sauce over top, just until it’s coated. I can really smell all those spices in that sauce. We can now go right to our platter. And then as a little garnish for this, we’re going to add a couple of lime cheeks.
Lime cheeks, as opposed to wedges, are just the sides of the lime. You tend to get a little bit a more juice out of them than you do with a traditional wedge. Now we’re gonna transfer a few pieces to our plate so we can give ’em a taste. Time to to snack on this Gobi. They’re really fragrant.
Mm! There’s so much flavor in that. So I typically serve this as an appetizer at parties. If I’m watching a football game, I’ll fry up a batch. It’s also a great vegetarian main if you have vegetarians coming over for dinner.
So for a great Gobi Manchurian, start by cutting your cauliflower florets into even 1.5″ pieces. Toss ’em in a light batter and then fry until crisp. After that, toss those fried florets into a pungent sauce. So from Cook’s Country, a sweet, savory, spicy Gobi Manchurian.
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