July 29, 2012

Going the veggie route, the Indo-Chinese way- Vegetable Manchurian

Most likely you wouldn't agree if I were to say that it takes a LOT of work into pulling off an Indo-Chinese theme party successfully or....would you? I wouldn't believe it AT all, if I had not been the one to slog for it.  So the story begins with inviting a few friends over for dinner and asking for their preferences. I got a special request for the Chili chicken that I had posted earlier in the blog. Honoring their wishes, I zeroed in on the Chili Chicken as the main dish. But with vegetarians in the group, I had to include a vegetarian dish.

The planning went into a slight disarray when just two days before the big day, my adviser decided to pile on some work and of course I got immersed into it UNTIL the day before the party. So much to be done and so little time!! Phew..shopping for ingredients, chopping the veggies, marinating chicken, the list was really endless. Seeking someone's help was not an option..so all this in so little time. Going by the Indo Chinese theme - I zeroed in on Veggie Manchurian or Gobi Manchurian as the vegetarian main dish and roasted garlic fried rice. Choosing between veggie or Gobi Manchurian was tricky and I finalized with the Veggie Manchurian mostly because it made me feel at home.

This particular recipe for veggie Manchurian dates back to one of the numerous awaited Wednesdays growing up. We would look forward to every Wednesday as a special occasion since that was the only day when all of us could eat non vegetarian food without any reservations. Most of these days, we would insist on eating Chinese and my Ma would happily oblige by making us some Vegetable Manchurian. Actually, I guess she was more than happy to oblige to any demands that included veggies and that too loads of it!!

So here's the recipe with notes/tips that will make your life a little more easier-I promise!

Vegetable Manchurian

Fried cabbage, carrot and spring onion rounds soaking up the essence of a lightly thickened broth seasoned with garlic and assorted sauces. Served with roasted garlic fried rice, it makes for a great Indo-Chinese combo.

Serves: 3-4
Makes ~25 small veggie balls

For the veggie balls:
1 C grated carrots
1½ C Finely grated cabbage
½ C finely chopped Bell pepper/Capsicum
½ C Chopped spring onions.
½ C All purpose flour/Maida
½ C Cornstarch
½ tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Sugar
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Kashmiri Chili powder (Optional)
1 T lemon juice (Optional)

Oil (for frying)

For the sauce:
1 T Chopped garlic
1 T Chopped spring onions (Optional)
½ T Dark Soy sauce
2 T Chili sauce
2 T Tomato ketchup
1 T White vinegar
2 T brown sugar (Use normal sugar if brown sugar is unavailable)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper powder
3 T Cornstarch + 1/4 C Lukewarm water
2 C Water

1. Add in all the ingredients for the veggie balls into a bowl and mix well. The mixture should be wet enough to form a ball.

Tip: Adding salt to the veggies makes them sweat, releasing water. So eventually the batter might feel dry but let it sit for a few minutes and you will have the desired consistency. On the other hand, if you leave it for too long, the mixture will become watery and in that case, adjust with more all purpose flour and salt. It always advisable to prepare the mixture right before frying.

2. Use a 1 T scoop for making the balls and fry over medium to low heat for about 2-3 minutes till golden brown. Keep aside.

Tip: These could be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Right before serving, warm them up in the oven and soak them with the sauce.

3. In a separate pan over medium heat, add oil and sauté the minced garlic till fragrant. Add in the white part of the spring onions and sauté for a minute more. While the garlic & spring onions are cooking, in a bowl, mix in soy sauce, chili sauce, tomato sauce and vinegar in 2 C water and add it to the pan with garlic and spring onions.

4. Warm about 1/4 C of water and mix in cornstarch to form a smooth mixture. Add this mixture by the spoonful into the sauce mixture while stirring constantly. Let the mixture come up to a boil and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes till the desired consistency is achieved. Now the desirable consistency is the one where the sauce is not too thick nor is it too thin. Alter it according to what you like.

5. About 10 minutes before serving , add in the fried veggie balls to the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes and serve hot with fried rice or chowmein.

Notes to self:
1. Adding brown sugar to the sauce adds that smokiness and depth to the sauce and also contributes to the golden brown hue.
2. Soaking the balls in the sauce for too long could make them crumble.
3. Make sure to taste everything as you go, so that you catch the mistake while its still mendable.
4. Don't panic if the sauce is too watery or dense - everything is reparable!
5. Achieving the perfect sauce consistency depends a lot on the stove heat used and the consistency of the sauces. There's no need to worry if you don't achieve it right away. Playing with the cornstarch mixture and the water content solves it all. Just make sure to simmer the mixture so that cornstarch gets cooked.

One very essential variation in my preparation is that while ajinomoto was integral to our home prepared Indo-Chinese dishes..(when we weren't quite aware of the repercussions),I opted out of it with concern for my guests. But oh boy does it make the food taste 1000 times flavorful or what? No wonder it can be addictive. I might be damned to say this..but Indo Chinese food does NOT taste the same without MSG/ajinomoto.Sigh.

An important lesson learnt from my tryst with Indo-Chinese cooking at a mass scale, is that these dishes HAVE to be dished out right around the time when guests are ready to eat, else they definitely lose their essence. I could have really loved some help with the preparation, but I guess that's how lessons are learnt and I learnt my own. So next time you plan to dish out these recipes on a large scale, make sure you have plenty of preparation done in advance and of course, some help couldn't hurt either.

Submitting this post to:
"Walk through memory lane" by Kalyani and Gayatri.
 - Kalyani and Vardhini for "Kitchen Chronicles – Only Vegan : Event Announcement".
- "Warm foods to beat the rain" hosted by The Pumpkin farm and Srivalli.
- "Desi Vidheshi food fest" hosted by Kalyani
- "Walk through memory lane" hosted by Archana and Gayatri
 - "30 minute meals" hosted by Srivalli 


  1. Looks yum... Machurian veggie happens to be one my favs. So thanks for sharing the recipe Jagruti.

  2. Manchurian looks perfect and inviting. Thx for linking.

    Event: Only Vegan
    Event: Zucchini

  3. My first visit to your lovely space. The Manchurian looks delicious.
    Do drop a visit to my space and leave your valuable comments!

  4. Looks yum. I wish I was in your guest list. ;)
    Thanks for linking this entry to my event.
    I am hosting WTML All through August’12. Do send me your entries

  5. yummyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy so good to look,I am hungry.

  6. I love this recipe especially the plating.Good job :) Glad to follow your blog.


Each kind, encouraging word gives me the impetus to put more into this space, so thanks a lot for browsing through and stopping by to say a word! :)