The best Indo-Chinese food I’ve ever eaten. Actually the only Indo-Chinese food I’ve ever eaten. Gobi Manchurian is deep fried balls of cauliflower, re-fried in a spicy warming, sweet sauce. What’s not to like.
As people emigrate and bring with them a wealth of cuisine, different cooking styles, flavour profiles and food combinations, this food knowledge is absorbed into the new countries, adding to their culinary landscapes for the better or worse.
After a while of the new and exotic foods being introduced to the taste buds of the welcoming nation, and are found to be delicious and exciting they give birth to new inventions which are in the style of the immigrant cuisine, but unlike anything found in the original country. For example in the UK we invented chicken Tikka masala, a hybrid of tandoori chicken and buttery masala sauce. Try as you will you most likely won’t be able to find this in India. America has made Frenchies mustard, French fries, the hamburger, all of which as their name suggest may have originated somewhere else, but were absorbed into the cultural, greedy stomach of the US and made into monstrously different but delicious things.
In India it is no different. As with pretty much everywhere else in the world the Chinese immigrants have made their mark on the country and Chinese food is as popular here as it is anywhere. However, it seems that Chinese food is lacking the masala spices that Indian people find so comforting in their food. This has led to the creation of some hybrid versions of dishes like chow mein and fried rice. However, the best one I’ve eaten that, I had never heard of before but was recommended by a friend is Gobi Manchurian.
Rather unlike the people from the north of England a Manchurian in India is a dish of deep fried vegetables, either whole pieces or shredded and made into balls and then re-fried in a chilli and onion sauce. Having looked online it seems it can also be served two ways in a thick gravy or without sauce. I’m not sure why you’d want it without sauce but apparently it does exist.
After a little research it seems mostly it is Gobi Manchurian which is cauliflower florets battered in a lightly spiced batter and then re-fried. However, both times we have eaten it, it has been shredded cabbage, cauliflower and carrot pressed into balls and then deep fried in the batter.
The sauce is made of salted garlic, onions, cabbage, ginger and fresh chilli with a masala spices mix that probably includes, turmeric, cumin, coriander. After this has sauted, a chilli sauce, soy sauce and vinegar are added along with a little sugar. If you want the drier version this is left to get really thick before the deep fried foods are added. Otherwise you add a cup or 2 of water and let it thicken and then finally add corn flour to really thicken it before the deep fried friends are added. A sprinkle of fresh coriander and lime are sometimes added at the end.
It may look like the Devil’s soup with balls of vegetables floating around, but it tastes incredible. It is exactly what you would think of when thinking of Chinese food except you can still taste the Indian spices. It is both homely, warming, spicy and fresh all at once. The sweet tangy sweetness of the sauce is matched by the freshness of chilli and the coriander while the crunchy vegetables are a welcome texted in something so thick. While it is sold at mostly dodgy looking fast food stalls, put your standards to one side for one meal and order this. Popular throughout all of India, but undoubtedly Chinese in taste this Indian invention of Gobi Manchurian is something I want at my Chinese takeaway.