Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gobi Manchurian

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect of this recipe from triumph of the lentil (which btw is probably the best food blog name... ever?). Although it seemed inevitable that there would be cross-cultural interactions between Chinese and Indian people, I'd never heard of Indo-Chinese food as a genre until I started researching what this recipe was riffing on. And I have to say--more superlatives!--Indo-Chinese food sounds like one of the best culinary combos I can think of.

This cauliflower dish, based on a similar dish for chicken, resembles our authentically inauthentic orange chicken. It's lightly breaded and fried and then tossed in a slightly sweet (but still savory) sauce. I would definitely use sesame oil for the sauce rather than canola--it gives the dish a wonderful flavor--but of course when frying the cauliflower itself, use a neutral oil like canola.

I am the queen of eating leftovers and, since I don't have a microwave, often eating cold leftovers. But this is one thing that really does need to be eaten immediately or the battered coating gets soggy from the sauce.

I had leftover batter and cauliflower, and I did fun things with each. Scroll down to see a savory pancake I made from the batter.

Cauliflower, breaded with chickpea flour and fried (honestly you could also just eat it like this!)

Gobi Manchurian

For the battered cauliflower:
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons tamari
1 teaspoon finely chopped red chili
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 small-medium cauliflower (definitely go for small--I had a lot of leftover cauliflower)
olive oil, for frying
For the sauce:
optional 2-4 teaspoons sesame seeds
2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil or olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1-3 teaspoons finely chopped chili
1/2 cup tomato purée 
2-3 tablespoons tamari
2 teaspoons sugar
salt, to taste
2 teaspoons tapioca flour or corn starch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water

1. Combine the chickpea flour with 3/4 cup lukewarm water and the lemon juice and leave it to sit in a large bowl, covered, at room temperature overnight (it should be a thick batter). (I only did this for about 45 minutes, and it worked fine).
2. Mix through the garlic, ginger, tamari, chili and salt.
3. Gently divide the cauliflower into florets.  Chop the larger ones in half if you wish.  Thoroughly coat these in the batter.
4. Put around 1cm (1/2″) olive oil in a large pan.  Heat over medium-high heat.  To test the heat, add a piece of the coated cauliflower, the oil should fizz up around the cauliflower right away.  Fry the cauliflower in batches until golden-brown, flipping the pieces over halfway through frying (a few minutes on each side).  Drain the fritters.
5. When all the cauliflower has finished cooking, heat the toasted sesame oil in a large saucepan over a heat between medium-high and high.  When the oil is hot, stir through the onion for two minutes, then stir through the ginger and garlic for one minute.  Stir through the chili for thirty seconds, then add the tomato purée, tamari and coconut sugar.  Stir through until bubbling then taste, and adjust the seasonings with salt and chili (it should be fairly hot, but still edible and tasty).  Keep stirring for another minute or two, to allow the sauce to reduce, then quickly stir through the tapioca flour and water mixture.  Quickly add the fried cauliflower and stir to coat.  Serve right away, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. Serves 2-3.


And I also cooked up the leftover batter as a pancake! Chickpea flour is amazing.

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