Veg Manchurian

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 restaurant 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.

Veg Manchurian
Serves 2-3 / prep+cooking time: 35 min

1 1/2 cups cabbage chopped finely
1 cups carrot grated
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ajwain or thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
oil for frying

  1. Toss chopped cabbage and carrot in a mixing bowl with the flour, turmeric, thyme and salt.
  2. Slowly add the water and mix to form a sticky, lumpy batter.
  3. Heat 1-2 in / 3-5 cm of oil in a small sauce pan or pot for deep frying, on medium high.
  4. Form the batter into gooey walnut-sized pieces with your hands or a large spoon. If the batter is too runny, gradually add more flour. If it is too dry and they don’t hold together, add water cautiously.
  5.  Your oil is ready to fry when a small bit of batter sizzles immediately and rises up.
  6. Once your batter is good, drop 7 to 10 pieces into the oil quickly but carefully and with some space between them.
  7. Roll around and fry until dark golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes per batch.
  8. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon, drip off excess oil and place on a plate or colander lined with a paper towel.
  9. Repeat until all of your dumplings are done. Turn off the heat and move hot oil to safe place until it cools.

2 medium tomatoes chopped
1 medium red onion chopped
1/2 cup cabbage shredded
2 cloves garlic diced
1 Tbs / 2 cm piece ginger peeled, diced
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper ground
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or 1 green chili diced
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs lemon juice
1/3 + 1/4 cup water
2/3 tsp sugar or agave
1 tbs flour or corn starch
1 tbs oil

  1. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a medium sauce pan on medium heat.
  2. Throw in the mustard seeds, black pepper, and chili.
  3. Put in the garlic, onion, and ginger and sauté until brown, about 3 min.
  4. Add the 1/2 cup of chopped cabbage for the sauce, followed by the tomatoes. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, mixing gently every minute or so.
  5. Add 1/3 cup of water, soy sauce, lemon juice and sugar. Return to low simmer.
  6. Whisk 1 tbs flour or cornstarch into 1/4 cup warm water. Add to sauce slowly and mix in well. Moderately simmer 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens.
  7. Add the fried dumplings several at a time, mixing gently to cover all pieces with sauce, continuing like this until all are in.
  8. Serve with jasmine, basmati or brown rice, garnish with chopped spring onions and / or lightly toasted cashew pieces.

Variations: Add 1/2 cup 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.

2 thoughts on “Veg Manchurian

  1. For my birthday, V and I were out in Hicksville, Long Island. There’s a large Indian community, with one of the best south Indian restaurants I’ve been to. Across the street is a Chinese-Indian place. Next time you’re in NYC, we have to figure a way to get out there. The whole town is amazing.

    • Wow… a Chinese-Indian / Indo-Chinese place outside of India? That’s cool! We had some friends in Amravati that opened a place called “Chinese Chaska” (Chinese Taste) and I was thinking how cool it’d be to have (or even open!) an Indo-Chinese place in a European or American city. I’m sure in Hicksville, with the Indian community there, there’s an eager audience.

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