When I lived in Amravati, India we’d go to several amazing vegetarian restaurants that specialized in Indo-Chinese dishes. Each place made Veg Manchurian differently, and in my travels I’ve had about twenty different styles of it, some more Indian, some more Chinese. But most quite wonderful. I experimented at home in the kitchen and asked as many family cooks as I could how to make it best.
I even got into the kitchen at one of our favorite Vegetarian Indian restaurants with the young Chinese-Specialty cook I’d befriended and did some spying and interrogating. I got all kinds of answers. Most of the recipes online were awful, calling for lame cooking measures like using ketchup or MSG for the sauce. The best part about researching Indo-Chinese recipes online is reading the comments and forums as Indians fight with one another on the ‘authenticity’ — of a hybrid dish!
It took a few tries but I knew I’d hit it right when at the school one day I opened up my shiny metal tiffin lunchbox and shared with some of the teacher ladies. Actually, it wasn’t when they first smiled or told me it was ‘so tasty’ (‘too tasty!’). It was at the end of the day when they asked me when I’d be making it again.
Vegan Veg Manchurian
serves 2 to 3 / time 35 min
- 1 1/2 cups / 160g cabbage shredded / chopped
- 1 large / 100g carrot peeled, grated
- 2/3 cup / 90g flour
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ajwain or thyme
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml water
- oil for frying
- Toss shredded cabbage and carrot in mixing bowl with flour, turmeric, thyme, and salt.
- Slowly add water and mix to form a sticky, lumpy batter.
- Heat 1-2 in / 3-5 cm oil in small sauce pan or pot for deep frying, on medium high heat. Oil is ready for frying when a small bit of batter sizzles immediately and rises up.
- Form batter into gooey walnut-sized pieces with hands or spoon. If batter is too runny, add flour. If too dry and pieces don’t hold together, add slightly more water.
- Drop 7 to 10 pieces into hot oil quickly but carefully. Do not crowd the pan. Fry, rolling and turning regularly, until dark golden brown, 4-6 minutes per batch.
- Remove dumplings with slotted spoon. Drip off oil, place on plate or colander lined with paper towel.
- Repeat until all dumplings are done. Turn off heat, move hot oil to safe place until cooled.
- 1/2 cup / 55 g cabbage chopped
- 2 medium / 160 g tomatoes chopped
- 1 Tbs oil
- 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 medium red onion chopped
- 1 in / 2 cm fresh ginger finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp black pepper ground
- 1 red or green chili finely chopped
- 3 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml water
- 2/3 tsp sugar or agave syrup
- 1 Tbs corn starch + 1/4 cup / 60 ml water
- Heat oil in medium sauce pan on medium heat. Add mustard seeds. After they start to pop (20-30 sec), add garlic, onion, ginger, pepper, chili. Fry, stirring constantly, 2-3 min.
- Add cabbage, followed by tomatoes. Saute 3-5 minutes, mixing regularly.
- Add soy sauce, lemon juice, 1/3 cup / 80 ml water, sugar. Reduce to low simmer.
- Mix corn starch with 1/4 cup / 60 ml water. Add to sauce while stirring. Simmer until sauce thickens, 2-3 min.
- Add fried dumplings to sauce, mixing gently to cover all pieces. Simmer on low, partially covered, 2-3 min.
- Garnish with chopped spring onions and toasted cashew pieces. Serve with rice.
Add 1/2 chopped green pepper to sauce a few minutes before you add the water and flour mixture to thicken. Hey, this is a hybrid… Go Wild! Add curry leaves, cumin or coriander if you want! After all, this is your Indo-Chinese now.