Vegetable Manchurian with Garlic gravy

The Indian Chinese is our favourite go-to when the body craves for some salty, err, tasty treats. When we pass by the Chinees stalls on the road and the China Garden hotel (I am sure every city has several by the same name), the aroma makes me want to linger. And stare at the man behind the stall making his manchurian swirl in his wok or tossing the fried rice up in the air, to expertly catch it at the right moment as it lands back in his wok. And those red dragons painted on the stalls. Oh, I want to go to one right now.

Vegetable manchurian

Never mind. We love to make the Vegetable Manchurian in the thick garlicky gravy at home. It is without the drama of the banian-clad man on a chinese stall, but tastes excellent. I also add a pinch of ajinomoto in the dough and gravy, we love that umami taste. But you can totally skip it. My husband believes it is safe and naturally occurring in many a foodstuff like mushrooms etc., and I take his word on that.

Generally veg manchurian goes well with any rice or noodles. Last Sunday we ate it with some boiled pasta, sautéed in butter and some herbed red sauce. It was a good lunch!

Vegetable Manchurian with Gravy

Manchurin gravy noodles

What you will need :

For the Manchurian balls :

  • 3/4 cup cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cauliflower, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 4 tablespoon maida
  • 2 tablespoon corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or more as per taste
  • a pinch of ajinomoto (totally optional, but I love the taste)
  • a little water, if required for kneading
  • Oil for frying

For the gravy :

  • 7-8 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly crushed pepper powder
  • 3 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon corn flour mixed in 1 and 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • a pinch of Himalayan chilli for flavor
  • a pinch of ajinomoto (totally optional, but I love the taste)

Spring onion greens for decoration.

What to do :

  1. Keep all the vegetables washed and chopped, ready to use in a large bowl. To it add all the ingredients as mentioned in Manchurian balls, except the water.
  2. Knead it all together to form balls. I needed about 1 tablespoon of water. It should be a sticky dough which can be roughly rolled into balls.
  3. In a large kadhai, heat some oil and fry these Manchurian balls on low heat. Drain on kitchen paper and let them cool.
  4. To make the gravy, in a thick bottomed vessel, heat some oil. Fry the garlic and add the onions. Cook till translucent.
  5. Then add rest of the ingredients mentioned in the gravy and let it simmer on low heat for 5-7 minutes. The sauce will begun to thicken.
  6. Once fairly thick, take the sauce off the heat and add the fried manchurian balls.
  7. Sever hot with some fried rice or noodles.
  8. I made some pasta noodles (cooked as per instructions on the packet) and topped it with some herbed red sauce. Recipe here.

Noodles with marinara

Notes :

  1. You can also use beans and your choice of vegetables, but keep the proportion same.
  2. Ajinomoto is entirely optional, skip it if you don’t like. But I am sure your Chinese guy uses it. So once in a while it is okay to use.
  3. If the manchurian balls are coming apart in the oil, knead it well with a little more water and always cook on low flame so that the vegetables get cooked till the centre.

Manchrian with noodles

Bengali Chicken Tikka Biryani

For a long time I have been reading and hearing about the Daring Baker and Daring Cooks forums. And then a few weeks back I registered for it and got accepted. This is my first challenge for that forum, and I am pretty excited!

For those of you who don’t know Daring kitchens, here’s a little about them :

In November 2006, two bloggers Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, made pretzels using the same recipe and put it on their blogs. It was a big hit , and soon they were joined by a few more bloggers to make other delicious baked goods, using a common recipe. Soon this “little baking group” grew to a large number and thus the ‘Daring Bakers’ came into being.

Their journey continued and Daring cooks was formed as a way for thousands of enthusiastic home cooks to learn about delicacies in the world, right from the experts.

Their format is very simple. A cook and/or a blogger, hosts the challenge every month, giving a tried and tested recipe of a particular dish or a technique. Then all those who wish to participate have to make it and put it on their blog on the designated date. For the last two-three months, Indian cuisine has taken Daring Kitchen by a storm, and I’m lovin it!

Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!

It also co-coincided with Ramzan and Eid, and Biryani is a favourite fast-ending meal for them. There are several regional variations of making Biryani, with lamb, chicken, fish and even vegetables. The most popular ones are Rasjasthani Biryani, the Punjabi specialty Tangdi Biryani, the Nalli Rogini Biryani of Lucknow, the Malabar Prawn Biryani of South India, Niyamat-e-arab-Biryani of Hyderabad and many more.

The current challenge was a Bengali Chicken Tikka Biryani. Delicate and flavorful. Chunks of chicken marinated for hours, half-cooked and then layers of chicken and rice steamed together, till all the flavors get equally distributed.

IMG_3106

Chicken marinated in a blend of spices and yoghurt, and then cooked

The process is somewhat time-consuming, and the list of ingredients is long. But worry not, because although it looks daunting, it is very easy. Everybody who eats it falls in love with the beautifully blended spice curry and the chicken-rice combination. And it makes great leftovers, can be frozen even for two months.

IMG_3117

Layers of chicken and rice, starting and ending with rice

So go ahead, make this exotic Biryani and bring the aromas of a Mughlai kitchen right into your home.

Bengali Chicken tikka Biryani

Chicken Tikka Biryani recipe

Ingredients :There are several common ingredients for the chicken marination and the final gravy. But I have shown it separately for simplicity while cooking.

For marinating chicken:

  • 1/2 kg boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tandoori masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 3 tablespoon yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • few drops of food coloring (optional)
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced fine
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and minced fine.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

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