Can we talk about cauliflower for a little bit? I will be honest, I wasn't the biggest fan of it for the longest time - something to do with it's texture and the fact that it's mostly tasteless. I didn't realize at the time what a treasure that actually makes it. When I started to cut carbs from my diet, I really became besties with this vegetable. There are soooo many ways to use it and can be used as a sub for so many of those carbs that I crave. I'm not telling you guys anything that you don't already know. There are so many products out there now that can really simplify your life...i.e. cauliflower pizza crusts, cauliflower tots, cauliflower mac and cheese, etc... The uses for this magical vegetable is pretty endless.
I will post my favorite cauliflower recipes that are pretty much made from scratch. The other thing that I have to be very careful with given my RA is that I need to stay away from processed foods. So as much as I would love to purchase cauliflower crusted pizza or the yummy cauliflower mac and cheese to simplify my life, I really need to be able to track what ingredients go into my foods. So these recipes are created as simply (and lazily) as possible to maximize flavor and minimize the effort! This ensures that I will continue to eat it when I could eat it's carby counterpart!
So rewind to yesterday's post - on Sunday I hosted a supper club of sorts and the theme was Indo-Chinese food. I made my favorite Hakka Noodles (vegetarian this time so omit the chicken in the my recipe). Since it was vegetarian, I wanted to pair it with something a bit more substantial and decided on the perfect pairing of Gobi Manchurian (an Indo Chinese Cauliflower dish). Basically this dish complements Hakka Noodles perfectly in India and is commonly served together. I have never made them and really wanted to try it in the air fryer (it's an obsession ya'll). The general premise of this dish is that cauliflower florets are dipped into a batter, then deep fried individually and then coated in a thick sauce. I mean, this is a tried and true method for yumminess. My challenge was to see if I could healthify it a bit and avoid the deep frying part. Once because it's much healthier and second, I have a healthy fear of hot as hell oil...if you ever met me, you would know that I am a bit of a klutz and accident prone. Just doesn't seem like the safest plan!
So, through this process, I discovered several things. First, don't make this dish for a big party! It is a process because, like frying, you have to fry up the cauliflower in batches to ensure that they are not overcrowded in either the oil, or in my case, the air fryer. So, if you are making this dish for 2 to 4 people, definitely go for it. For 10 people, not so much! Second, this dish is delicious...like amazingly so. The air fryer cooks it perfectly so that it is super crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle and then when you coat it in the sauce, it creates the perfect texture packed with flavor. Third, prepare for the fact that you are going to have to scrap the basket of your air fryer so some models will work better than others. I have a Cosori so the basket was a bit challenging but not undoable. I found that if you set the temp high and at the midpoint of the cooking time, you really scrape the florets then, spray them with oil and then finish cooking them, you can just slide them right out when done. I also added foil to the bottom tray under the basket to catch the rest of the drips because as you cook several batches, you don't want excessive smoking and can change it out as needed.
So back to the recipe! Here is it's beauty shot!
So so good! Okay here is the recipe and then I will post a few pictures so that you can see the process. This goes in two parts - the cauliflower part and the sauce part. Both are pretty straightforward and then can be combined right before you are ready to serve so that the florets remain crisp and doesn't get soggy.
Gobi (Cauliflower) Manchurian
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
water as needed to form paste
1 small head cauliflower, cut in 2-inch florets
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp green chili, chopped finely
1 small red onion, chopped finely
2 Tbsp green onions (whites), chopped finely
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp chili sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp water for slurry
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp green onions (greens), chopped on a bias, for garnish
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder and salt.
Whisk in water until a smooth, thick batter forms. Go slow and add water as necessary. The thicker the batter, the less drip that you will have.
Add cauliflower to batter and coat all of them evenly. Transfer coated cauliflower to a sheet tray as separated as possible and freeze for at least an hour so that they chill thoroughly.
Meanwhile, in a skillet on the stove, heat the sesame oil on medium high heat. Once warm, add the garlic and ginger cook for a minute taking care that it doesn't burn. Add the chilies, red onion and green onions and cook until onions are translucent.
Add the soy sauce, chili sauce and ketchup and cook until everything thickens a bit.
In a small bowl, create a slurry by combining the cornstarch and water. Mix well and slowly add to the mixture, constantly stirring. Add in the 1/2 cup of water and cook the sauce until it thickens. Set aside until needed.
After 1 hour, remove chilled cauliflower from freezer. Preheat the air fryer at 400F for 5 minutes
After 5 minutes, spray the air fryer basket with avocado oil. Place the chilled cauliflower in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at 400F for 12 minutes. Shake halfway through the cooking process making sure that none of the florets are sticking to the basket. Give the cauliflower a spray of oil before resuming cooking.
Cooking is complete when florets are crispy and lightly browned. Transfer them to a bowl and set aside while you repeat the cooking process with remaining cauliflower.
When ready to serve, warm up sauce in skillet and toss the cooked cauliflower with the sauce.
Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.
I will definitely make this again and I totally can see myself using this same method to coat the cauliflower with a buffalo hot sauce and making meatless tacos. Mmmmm tacos. Okay, I need to eat. Enjoy!!