Cauli Manchurian

Rachana Rimal

League of Kitchens, NYC

"This is the Indian interpretation of Chinese food—a sweet-and-sour sauce blankets fried cauliflower seasoned with more traditional Indian spices. Rachana Rimal learned this special occasion dish from her mother, though she added her own twist with the sweet tomato chile sauce and garlic. It’s often served with rice and roti, though it makes a great snack as is (and can sit for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator)." —League of Kitchens


Cauliflower and Batter:

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 cup besan (chickpea) flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoon corn flour (see notes)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 heaping tablespoons ground garam masala
  • 4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon red chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce  
  • 3/4 cup water
  • About 6 cups canola oil, for deep frying


  • 1/4 cup Maggi Hot & Sweet Tomato Chilli Sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons roasted cumin powder (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Chopped cilantro and sliced scallions, for garnish


Make the cauliflower and batter: break the cauliflower into large florets and slice them into 1/4-inch-thick planks. Place the cauliflower into a large high-sided skillet, cover with water, and bring to just a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat and let sit until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Put the besan flour, cornstarch, corn flour, cumin, garam masala, hing, garlic powder, red chile powder, salt, ginger, pepper, soy sauce, and Chilli Sauce in a large bowl. Do not mix. Drain the cauliflower and add to the bowl. Mix with your hands to combine the batter ingredients as you stir the cauliflower into it. Once it’s nearly combined, let sit for 5 minutes. If the batter isn’t a thick but runny paste, add some of the water, a little at a time, and mix until the cauliflower is coated in a thick but runny paste.

Fill a large Dutch oven with the oil; it should be about 1 1/2 inches deep. Heat over medium-high heat until a drop of batter sizzles and immediately floats (about 260°F). Carefully add the cauliflower in batches, letting excess batter drip off, and fry, turning with a spider or slotted spoon, until very brown, 9 to 11 minutes per batch. As the cauliflower is done, remove to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining  cauliflower (you should cook the cauliflower in about 4 batches).

Make the sauce: in the same skillet you boiled the cauliflower in, add the Chilli Sauce, soy sauce, oil, cornstarch, roasted cumin powder, and garlic powder and stir over medium-high heat for a minute to combine. Add the water and sugar and let the sauce simmer to thicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to the sauce and stir to coat. Remove from the heat, garnish with cilantro and scallions, and serve.


  • Corn flour is finely ground cornmeal that’s milled from the whole kernel. Cornstarch comes from the endosperm. (Cornmeal is ground from the dried corn kernel.)
  • Hing is the ground resin of giant fennel plants. Used widely in Indian cooking, often in place of garlic and onion, it has a strong odor that dissipates shortly after being added to the dish.
  • You can make your own roasted cumin powder by toasting cumin seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until they lightly brown and smell roasty. Cool before grinding into a powder in a spice grinder.


4 servings