I told my husband that we are having vegetable balls for dinner. He responded, “I’m not into balls.”
Vegetable Manchurian is an Indo-Chinese dish popular in India and usually served with steamed rice, fried rice, or some sort of noodle side. The gravy is a lovely silky blend of both Indian and Chinese flavors. The balls themselves are part dumpling, kofta, and part vegetable fritter. Usually, you would fry the balls, but I opted to bake them. I didn’t want my apartment to smell like a fast food place. My hair also would smell like oil. They turned out beautifully with a nice crunchy outer crust and a soft inside. I’m sure that frying them up would make it taste even better, but baking is a nice option if you are watching your fat intake.
My sister got me a Manchurian masala from India so I did a bit of a shortcut and used that for the sauce. I was also going to make some Gobi (cauliflower) Manchuri, which are like cauliflower tempura with the Manchurian sauce, but ran out of time. I’ll do a post on that some other time.
My recipe is loosely based on VahChef’s Vegetable Manchurian recipe, but instead of using rice, I boiled some potatoes, mashed them (even with the skin on), and mixed them with the vegetables. You want to mix the vegetables, mashed potato, salt, ground black pepper, and some corn starch so that it is like a dough which you can easily form into balls. I also had some swiss chard on hand, so I chopped up the leaves and the stem separately and added them into the veg mix. You can add any other vegetables that you think might go well with the dish. Feel free to experiment! Make sure to squeeze out your cooked vegetable mix before mixing with the mashed potatoes. You don’t want your balls to be soggy. 😛
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Shape the manchurian into ping-pong size balls.
- Roll them in a bit of corn flour/starch, then set aside.
- Take a wire rack (the kind you set baked goods on to cool down) and set it on a baking sheet.
- Spray/brush wire rack with oil. I use grape seed or safflower oil as they have higher smoke points.
- Take manchurian balls and spray/brush them with oil. Place on greased wire rack.
- Bake for 10 mins. Flip them over and bake another 10 mins until crispy and brown all over. May take longer depending on your oven.
- Serve with the gravy as a dipping sauce or slather it over the balls. Garnish with chopped scallions.
I like using the wire rack because it allows hot air to circulate around the food better for a crispier crust than setting them straight onto a baking pan. Make sure to grease the wire rack well, or the food can easily stick because of all the grooves. You could always just use a greased baking sheet if you don’t want to use a rack.
I got some great tips from my friend, Suraj, who told me to saute garlic, onion, and serrano peppers as a base for the sauce and grind them up in a food processor/blender with the masala, tomato paste, tomato puree, vegetable stock, and tomato ketchup until smooth. The serrano peppers add an extra kick to the sauce and a little bit of fresh chili flavor which complemented the spices. I didn’t have tomato puree so I sauteed 2 chopped roma tomatoes, adding a little bit of vegetable stock, until tender enough to mash them. It will become saucy in the food processor/blender. I also added some bottled sweet and sour sauce to make the flavors blend even better. You could also add some honey to make it sweeter.
Watch this VahChef tutorial! He is hilarious! But, he has some good tips too. :o)
I served Veg Manchurian with Pancit Canton, a Filipino noodle dish, which I’ll write about at another time.
- vegetarian swedish meatballs (witchinkitchen.wordpress.com)
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- Justnashik Food Guide :Unconventional street food eats in the city. (justnashik.com)