Gobi Manchurian (Crispy Cauliflower Florets in Manchurian Sauce)

At home in Malaysia, mom usually adds cauliflower florets to her Chinese style mixed-veggie dish and we seldom use cauliflower in Indian dishes. It’s only after marriage that I learned to make this dish which happens to be one of hubby’s preferred vegetarian dishes. It’s not just simple to make this dish that can be served as an appetizer but also easy to like eating it :)

Although chlorophyll-lacking, cauliflower is one of the ‘white’ veggies known to be laden with health benefits. As it is the cauliflower may be as not as appealing as other vegetables but when cooked the right way and with the right flavoring, it can become as scrumptious.

Manchurian dishes are kind of popular in India and are a must in Indo-Chinese cuisine. The Manchurian sauce is basically sweet and sour sauce (soy sauce, ketchup, chili sauce and maybe some sweet rice wine vinegar) with individually favored level of spiciness. This sauce is used together with non-veg items such as chicken and fish as well as in vegetarian dishes using paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and like the post here, cauliflower florets.

First, the florets are coated in a batter made of rice flour, besan flour, chili powder and salt and are fried till crispy and golden brown. At this stage itself the fried cauliflower florets become tempting…hmmph…they are deep-fried after all! The crispy florets are then tossed with the prepared Manchurian sauce to make a tantalizing side-dish.


Asparagus Stir-fry with Dried Shrimp Sambal

One of my favorite spring vegetables…asparagus! They tend to be a little pricey off-season but it’s hard to ignore the beautifully arranged green, edible ‘pencils’ even in winter.

It’s always good to know when the things you already like to eat are especially good for your health.In my pregnancy book, asparagus is there in the list of ‘best things to consume pre- and especially during the early stages of pregnancy’ due to its high level of folate.

The usual bunches of asparagus are green in color but I have also seen them in their white and purple variants. My favorite though is the green ones with relatively thin stems. In fact, I once bought a bunch of pencil asparagus (the ones with pencil-thin stems) and oven-roasted them with just a tad of olive oil, pepper and salt for a perfectly crunchy yet succulent veggie treat.

This entry here is a perfect example of how one can ‘Malaysianize’ a dish: making it with our famous must-have condiment – sambal! When you blanch dried chilies and then grind it with some belacan (shrimp paste), you have with you sambal paste that be used in infinite possible ways. Ask any Malaysian and he/she would say that nothing can go wrong when it’s cooked with sambal paste!

My bunch of perfectly fresh asparagus gets stir-fried with some sambal paste with added dried shrimps for that extra umami-inducing crunch and taste. Just beware when adding extra salt as the belacan and dried shrimps are already salted.

Crunchiness, tenderness, saltiness and spiciness all in one bite!
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