Here is yet another dish that held my fantasy for a long time. Amma forbade ordering this in the restaurants because she feared that they would be too lazy to clean the cauliflower and the food might contain worms. Every time amma used to make cauli, she would remove those slimy squiggly green fellows and so very rarely ordered gobi manchurian (gm). I consider this gm as the finest collobration between India and China.
My college canteen spoiled me with this dish. We used to call it Manjaree. "Anna, one plate manjaree. Ozhunga parthu samachaduthanae? (properly cooked right?)" used to be our order line every time. Ramamurthy mama would always give a friendly tap for this question and assure us that he would bear the medical expenses if anything happened to us because of his food. Nothing has ever happened!
Gm could be a dry starter or made into a gravy to accompany fried rice or fulkas (my fav combos) and other combinations will also be fabulous anyways! Combinations are a seperate blog and I know so many people, including me, relishing certain combos that could be just un thinkable!
Cut the cauliflower into nice florets, wash them well and dry. Cut onions, capsicum and green chili into big pieces. Separate the onion as big leaves after it is cut. Sprinkle vinegar over this onion-capsicum-green chili mixture and set aside. Make a thin batter with all purpose flour adding along coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder, ginger garlic paste and salt. Don't make the batter as thick as for making bajji or pakodas. Make it in such a consistency that it will coat your cauliflower and not create an envelope for it. Dip the cauliflower florets into this batter and fry them crisp. Set aside and seriously fight the temptation to eat them before the procedure is complete!
Fry finely chopped onions with ginger and garlic pieces in little oil. Add chili sauce and soy sauce into this. You can additionally add sweet-sour sauce too and I usually substitute the chili sauce with the Thai version of seasoned red chili vinegar called Sambal Olek ( thanks to Sharan for introducing me to it ). Now add the marinated onion-capsicum-green chili after draining the excess vinegar off into this and give it a stir. Add the fried cauliflower florets and toss your pan a couple of times to aid good mixing. Now add finely chopped spring onions and toss again. If you are not comfortable with tossing, then carefully stir to mix well. The dry manchurian is ready!
To make the gravy version, we need not do the marination step. Instead these cut vegetables can be added before adding the sauces and cooked along. Once the sauces are added, add water and cook on low heat. Starch solution or corn flour solution can be added to thicken the gravy. When the gravy is thick, add the fried florets and simmer for a few minutes before garnishing with coriander leaves.
My personal advise, dry version is the best! If you notices, Gm does not contain any garam masala though you can experiment sprinkling some. The sauces play the most crucial role in bringing out the Chinese taste. Also, carefully add salt to this dish because the sauces will already contain salt.