Although I’m glad to be back home in Boston, I’m still finding myself craving a lot of the food in LA: Veggie Grill, Mohawk Bend, Little Pine, Seabirds, Crossroads, Ramen Hood, Au Lac and Vegan Nirvana. There was so much variety there, but still a lot to discover here in Boston and Cambridge!
I love recreating some of my favorite restaurant eats in my own kitchen, like these tacos, this Palak Paneer, crab cakes and more. Most recently, I’ve been craving the Gobi Manchurian at Bombay Tandoori in Torrance, which I loved as leftovers the next day as much as I loved having it for dinner. So I took at stab at recreating this battered and spicy cauliflower dish at home.
The results were not the same as what I got out, and I make no claims that this version is authentic, but this was delicious nonetheless and hit the spot. After a dunk in some batter, these cauliflower florets were tossed in a fiery sambal-laced sauce, then crisped up even more around the edges in my air fryer.
for the sauce
- 1 TB canola oil
- 2 TB minced garlic
- 2 TB minced ginger
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2/3 cup vegetable broth, plus a little more if needed
- 1/3 cup sambal (cut back to half or 1 TB for less spicy)
for the batter
- 1/2 cup AP flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch, plus 1-4 TB extra
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 cup water
for the cauliflower + to serve
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small, bite-sized florets
- plenty of canola, grapeseed or vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 servings of prepared basmati rice
- chopped cilantro, for garnish
to make the sauce
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add in the garlic and ginger and saute until softened but not browned (about 7 minutes) adding in splashes of the vegetable broth as needed.
- Add in the red onion and scallions, and stir to combine. Keep adding liquid to the pan as needed to allow the vegetables to soften, but not brown (10-15 minutes).
- By this time, the vegetables should be soft and most of the liquid absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the desired amount of sambal. Set aside.
to make the batter
- Combine all of the batter ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, except for the extra 4 TB cornstarch and water.
- Add in the water, stir gently, adding in extra cornstarch one tablespoon at a time as needed to obtain a smooth consistency. You want it thin enough to coat the cauliflower florets, but not so thin in drips too fast, or too thick that it doesn’t coat the florets evenly.
to prepare the cauliflower
- Place the florets into a large saucepan. Cover with water and place a lid over the top. Bring to a boil on the stovetop, then remove from the heat and drain. I transferred to a baking sheet with a cooling rack set inside to allow the cauliflower to drain and cool.
- Place several inches of oil into a small cast iron pot or deep fryer and heat to 325-350 degrees.
- Place several florets into the batter and carefully drop into the hot oil one at a time. Fry until golden, then transfer to paper towels with a skimmer to drain while you repeat the process with the rest of the florets. Don’t overcrowd the pot or your florets will stick to each other.
- Toss the fried florets into the prepared sauce, then place into an air fryer for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees, shaking every few minutes to avoid sticking. (You may need to do this in 2-4 batches depending on your airfryer size.)
- Serve immediately with prepared basmati rice and chopped cilantro.