Who would say no to a good Chinese meal, especially a Chinease fried Rice? Also when it is properly indianised and salted to our taste? Well that's how it is with us. We are a big fan of the way we cook Chinese meals. I still remember the time Chinese was introduced to us. We saw chain of restaurants like Dynasty, cropping up every nook and corner. And it became the fad of the lot to eat out at a Chinese restaurant.
In Madras, you could find many authentic Chinese restaurants. But none without a flavour of our spices sneaking into them. Dad used to take us for lunch every Sunday as an off time for Amma. And this lead us to discover many new outlets. It was during this time we were introduced to this cuisine. But somehow they were not taken in so keenly to the sauces prevalent in this cuisine. Then we saw our kitchen taken over by this oft beaten recipe that goes by the name Chinese Fried Rice and Cauliflower Manchurian or Gobi Manchurian. I guess these two would have gone through so many changes and nuances, I wonder if anything authentic still remains in this! Infact I read that Gobi Manchurian is an Indian invention using Chinese sauces and not from Chain. Talk about innovation and creation!
We have adapted to our way of liking and no doubt this would've seen lot of changes. But this is something that is very much favoured by all at home. We used to prepare Chicken Fried Rice, Egg Fried Rice and Vegetable Fried Rice so many times, that we had a serious case of getting bored. Not being satisfied with this, we used to visit the restaurants that called itself authentic. Amma never liked the dishes with lot of sauced infused. So getting back home, we used to love our recipe with much ado. Then came hubby dear into picture. He hates Chinese in whatever way you serve! So these recipes took a back seat for many years. Once he got used to our way of cooking, he made himself accept this too. So with much interest and happiness, I ventured to prepare these again.
Now when we go to restaurants, we order cauliflower manchurian, because Athamma is very fond of Gobi manchurian, she got a liking to this when she got to taste this in a town that they lived for a while. Imagine that! that's the extent to which we find these dishes having found their way to remote towns too. And now even kutty has got a liking to Gobi Manchurian. With couple of touches with Indian spices and changes, hubby is fond of this now! And every time we go to a restaurant, when I order Chinese dishes, hubby confirms that it doesn't have too much sauces in them. But at a place like Mainland China, you can't really avoid right.
During one of our lunches in Mainland China, I took a friyam which looked quite good. I never realized anything wrong until I took it close to eat. That's when I smelt something fishy, I mean prawny! On inquiring, was told that its Prawns Friyam!. Well I managed not to throw up! The smell was very pungent, not sure how I didn't smell it the first place. Other things served there are good enough. But nothing to beat Amma's recipes.
I always make Fried rice, leaving the manchurian to Amma. She dishes out yummy cauliflower manchurians! Since Dad is fond of this, Amma stocks all the required items in her pantry always. But it was more so surprising that she ensured these in her new place. So I planned out to prepare these without much delay. Only felt bad that Dad had been asking for this for quite sometime but she couldn't find time to prepare. And since it happen to be a weekday, he missed this. So the next time they are down here, this is what's going to be prepared for him.
Here's what you need to prepare classic Chinese fried rice, albeit an indianized one!
Clean and soak rice for 1 5 mins. Pressure cook with 4 & 1/2 cups of water. Since the rice has to be non sticky and separate, you can even reduce quarter cup of water. You can either pressure cook or cook directly on stove. Once its cooked, remove and spread it on a plate so that you have each grain separate.
Chop all vegetables finely. Onion bulbs can be chopped as circles. The stock is saved to be used for garnish. Rest of the vegetables can be chopped finely.
Heat a wok or Kadai. Add 2 tbsp of Oil, to this add cumin seeds. When it splutters, add chopped spring onions. Fry well, then add all the chopped vegetables. Sauté well with the flame high. To the effect the restaurant effect of smoke, tilt the kadai to a side and let the vegetables catch the flames. You will see the vegetables frying in oil catches the smoke from the flame. Keep sautéing till the vegetables are crisp and cooked. This dish requires the vegetables to be crisp and not over cooked.
Then add Ajinomoto, salt and Soya sauce. Sauté well. Slowly add the cooked rice and mix well. Add the pepper and adjust the salt. sprinkle the spring onion stocks over the rice.
Every step in this needs to be cooked on high flame.
To make the manchurian
Cauliflower - 250 gms
Ginger - 2"
Garlic - 4 pods
Green chillies - 3 nos
All purpose flour / Maida - 1 cup
Corn flour - 1 & 1/2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying
To make the sauce
Soya sauce - 1 & 1/2 tbsp
Tomato Sauce - 1 & 1/2 tbsp
Corn flour - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Garlic - 4 pods
Spring onions - 1 bunch
Method to prepare:
Clean and cut cauliflower to small pieces. It shouldn't be too small. Fill enough to just cover the florets, add salt and bring to boil. After 5 minutes, drain the water. Cover with lid and leave it aside.
In a bowl, take the flours and mix with little water to have a batter that's quite thin. Make a paste of garlic, ginger and green chillies. Ensure its not a fine paste, little coarse, it adds more taste. You get about 2 tsp, keep little for the sauce. Add this paste to the flour mixture. Drain the cauliflower and keep it ready
Meanwhile heat a pan of oil. Once its really hot, dip each florets and drop gently into the hot oil. Cook on both sides and drain to a kitchen towel.
For the sauce.
Heat a pan and add 1 tsp oil, Chop spring onions, garlic finely. Sauté just the onion bulbs along with chopped garlic. Keep aside.
Then add ginger garlic and chilli paste. Simmer and Add little water to corn flour to make a liquid, to this add Soya sauce. Once paste is fried, add this sauce along with tomato sauce. Adjust salt. Fry on high flame so that the sauce thickens. Just make sure it doesn't become too thick.
Add fried cauliflower, fried onions and garlic along with green spring onions stocks. simmer for 1 min. I make more of the fried cauliflower as we tend to eat it as such. If you don't want the cauliflower to be too soggy, you can add just few pieces and add all of them later. But soaked pieces gives the real taste!
Remove and serve with Fried rice. This turns out to be a very satisfying combination.
We prefer the Dry cauliflower manchurian too.
This goes to JFI, an event started by Indira, hosted by Radhi this month, featuring Onions as the ingredient!. Onions is something which we can't live without, be it raw or cooked. Infact I cant think of cooking without using Onions. And it gives me a pleasure to send this recipe featuring my favorite variety.