I’ll never forget the first time I had Gobi Manchurian. It was a busy dinner shift on a Friday night at our local Indian restaurant. It was where I spent my weekends in college waitressing for some extra cash. I had stopped in the kitchen to chat with the cook, between grabbing orders for the full restaurant.

“They thought this was too spicy,” the cook stated, his eyebrow raised, as he pushed a dish towards me, “Do you want to eat it?”

“What is it?” I asked as I stared curiously at the dish, my stomach growling from spending the night surrounded by the delicious aromas from the kitchen. It was chunks of what looked like chicken coated in sauce, just enough to cover the pieces, but not enough that it was dripping in sauce.

“Gobi,” he said with a straight face. 

“Huh,” I thought to myself, as I rolled my eyes, assuming that I was being toyed with to eat a piece of chicken instead of cauliflower. I realized how wrong I was as soon as I wearily took a small bite.

Instantly, I felt the burst of flavors in my mouth: it was sour, sweet, spicy, and tasted nothing like cauliflower. I couldn’t stop grabbing bits of cauliflower coated in the delicious sauce. How had I never heard of this before? It was life-changing!

The cook gave me a knowing smile and walked away smugly as I continued to dig in.

Later that night, my family immediately devoured it as well when I brought the leftovers home. I knew I needed to learn how to make this dish by myself. I could have easily continued to order it from the restaurant whenever the mood struck me, but I’ve always been of the mindset that if you like something, you should learn to make it on your own. 

battered, fried, cauliflower
Battered cauliflower ready to be coated in the sauce

So began my months of internet recipe research to try and crack the code for the perfect sauce; a crisp and crunchy batter to coat the cauliflower and was also the best ratio of sauce to cauliflower. I’m so happy to finally be able to share it!

Gobi Manchurian may be fusion food, but its magical mix of flavors makes it one of my favorite starter dishes. Crisp, battered cauliflower coated in a sauce that is both sweet and spicy with just a hint of sour. What more could you ask for? It truly will satisfy the pickiest eater. And it is a fool-proof way to prepare that enigmatic head of cauliflower taking up space in your refrigerator. 

battered cauliflower coated in tangy sauce red sauce
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battered cauliflower coated in tangy red sauce

Gobi Manchurian

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: Appetizers

Scale

Ingredients

Sauce: 

  • 2 tbsp peanut oil, or other high heat oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup whites of green onions, finely chopped. (save the green ends for garnish)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup tomato puree or crushed tomatoes. 3/4 cup just coats cauliflower, adjust to increase based on your preference
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp chili garlic paste
  • 1 tsp sriracha, adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt, adjust to taste

Batter:

  • 1 head of cauliflower (about 1.5 pounds), cut into florets and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup corn flour*
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp, cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup water, adjust to desired consistency

Garnish

  • chopped green onions

Instructions

Prepare the sauce:

  1. Heat oil in 4-6 quart wok
  2. Add ginger and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes
  3. Add green onion and saute for 2 more minutes
  4. Add ground coriander and stir until coated
  5. Add rest of sauce ingredients: tomato puree, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, chili garlic paste, sriracha, sesame oil, brown sugar, and salt
  6. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then cover and set aside.

Batter:

  1. Heat oil in deep fryer to 350F
  2. Combine dry ingredients in medium-sized bowl: corn flour, all purpose flour, corn starch, salt, ground coriander, chili pepper, and fresh ground black pepper
  3. Slowly mix in 1/2 cup water and combine. Add an additional 1/4-1/2 cup of water slowly until the batter is thick enough to coat cauliflower easily (slightly thicker than pancake batter). You don’t want the batter to be too thin because it will drip off the cauliflower and be too messy to fry.
  4. Carefully, coat florets in batter, and place individually into oil by hand. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Remove from fryer, and let drain in a strainer
  6. When you are ready to serve the dish, heat sauce on medium heat for 5 minutes, remove from heat, then add in fried cauliflower and toss until coated
  7. Top with chopped green onion and serve immediately

Notes

Don’t have corn flour? You can substitute gram flour (besan). Corn flour helps create a crispier coating, but both taste delicious