Crunchy Vegan Deep-Fried Cauliflower

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Get ready for a crispy, crunchy, and delicious appetizer that packs a flavor punch with this vegan Gobi Manchurian recipe. Perfectly deep-fried cauliflower florets are coated in a savory, tangy sauce that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

Gobi Manchurian is a popular Indo-Chinese dish that originated in Chinese restaurants in India. Chinese immigrants were trying to create a dish that appealed to the Indian palate. They combined Indian spices (ginger, chilies) and cooking techniques (deep-frying) with Chinese condiments (soy sauce, garlic) and textures (cornstarch in the sauce).

Our recipe for Gobi Manchurian with gravy features crispy, deep-fried cauliflower florets coated in a spicy and tangy sauce made with soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, and more. 

Another variation is dry Gobi Manchurian that’s often served as a snack paired with a cold glass of beer. The cauliflower florets are coated in a crispy deep-fried batter and served with ketchup or a special dipping sauce. 

Gobi Manchurian gravy style is perfect as an appetizer or as a full meal served with rice or Naan bread. I love ordering this dish from my local Chinese restaurant, but I’ve always wondered if it could be crispier. The answer is yes! With the tricks in this recipe, you can make the crispiest Gobi Manchurian at home.

If you love this recipe, be sure to try these amazing Honey Harissa Cauliflower Bites.

Why You’ll Love This Easy Gobi Manchurian Recipe

It’s quick and easy to make, yet the result is a dish that is packed with flavor and texture. The crispy cauliflower florets are perfectly complemented by the tangy sauce, making it a dish that is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

This cauliflower Manchurian recipe is naturally plant-based, making it a great option for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. Plus, cauliflower is a healthy vegetable that is low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins.

This crunchy vegan deep-fried cauliflower (Gobi Manchurian) is a great appetizer or snack to serve at parties or gatherings. It’s sure to be a hit with both vegans and non-vegans alike!

I’ve included instructions for baking and deep-frying, a healthier version of Gobi Manchurian. But if it’s a special occasion, I highly recommend deep-frying since nothing compares to the real deal. 

What Ingredients Do I Need For Crunchy Vegan Deep-Fried Cauliflower (Gobi Manchurian)?

For the deep-fried cauliflower florets:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying (any oil with a high smoke point)

For the Manchurian sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped (green parts reserved for garnish)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, chopped (see notes)
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 1 Tbsp. chili paste (such as sambal oelek)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water + 2 tsp. cornstarch (for the cornstarch slurry)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How To Make Gobi Manchurian

Step 1: Prep all the ingredients

First, chop the vegetables and aromatics so that you have everything ready to go.

To make Manchurian sauce, mix the soy sauce, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, and chili paste in a bowl and set aside. 

In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water. Set aside. 

Wash the cauliflower, cut it into small-medium florets, and pat dry with paper towels.

Step 2: Make the Manchurian sauce

In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chili peppers, and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). 

Add the onions, scallion whites, and bell pepper, and season with a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and soft. 

Add the sauce and stir to combine. When the sauce starts to bubble, stir the cornstarch slurry again and add it to the pan. Continue stirring and cooking until the sauce becomes thick and glossy. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.

Step 3: Batter and fry the cauliflower florets

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and chili powder. Gradually add the water, whisking non-stop, to make a nice lump-free batter.

Dip the cauliflower florets into the batter in batches, making sure they’re well coated.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. 

Once the oil is hot (335º-350ºF), carefully drop half of the battered cauliflower into the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy. 

Remove the fried cauliflower and place it on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Let the oil return to 335º-350ºF and repeat with the second batch of battered cauliflower.

Step 4: Flash fry the deep-fried cauliflower and coat in Manchurian sauce

Increase the oil temperature to 375-400ºF and flash fry all the cauliflower florets for 30 seconds to 1 minute until deeply golden brown. Drain excess oil on new paper towels.

Add the cauliflower florets to the room temperature Manchurian sauce and gently mix to coat evenly. Garnish with scallion greens and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Notes & Tips

  • Make sure you pat the cauliflower florets dry before coating them in the batter. The excess moisture can cause the batter to become soggy. And may also make the hot oil splatter (dangerous).
  • Don’t overcrowd the cauliflower florets in the pan while frying. Fry in small batches to ensure that the oil temperature stays consistent and the cauliflower becomes crispy.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the cauliflower in the oven or toaster oven at 350°F (177°C) for 10-15 minutes until heated through.
  • To make healthy Gobi Manchurian, I recommend air-frying or baking the cauliflower instead. You can find instructions below. The original deep-fried version tastes best, but we all know deep-fried goodies should be eaten in moderation. Reserve the deep-fried version for special occasions.

Variations & Allergens

For a gluten-free version, use rice flour or arrowroot flour instead of all-purpose flour in the batter. And replace the soy sauce with tamari or gluten-free soy sauce.

You can also try using different vegetables instead of cauliflower. Broccoli, mushrooms, and even tofu work well in this recipe.

Adjust the spice level according to your taste by increasing or decreasing the amount of red chili powder and serrano chilies.

How To Make Baked Gobi Manchurian

To make baked gobi manchurian, follow the same instructions for the Manchurian sauce and cauliflower prep. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Before baking the battered cauliflower florets, roll them in panko bread crumbs. Then, spread them out on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake at 400ºF for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and slightly browned.

Coat the crispy baked cauliflower florets with Manchurian sauce and serve immediately. Voila!

How To Make Gobi Manchurian In An Air Fryer

For the Gobi Manchurian recipe air fryer version, you’ll need to tweak just a few things. Instead of half cornstarch, half all-purpose flour in the batter, use ¾ cup flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Otherwise, the cauliflower will turn out gummy and unappetizing.

Air-fry at 400ºF for 8-10 minutes, turn each cauliflower floret and air-fry for another 8-10 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the basket; you may need to air fry in two batches.

Proceed to coat the air-fried cauliflower florets in cooled Manchurian sauce and enjoy!

FAQs

How Can I Make This Recipe Spicier? How Can I Make Non-Spicy Gobi Manchurian?

You can increase the amount of red chili paste or add more serrano peppers to make the recipe spicier.

To cut down the spice, remove the seeds and white membrane from the serrano peppers. And reduce the amount of chili paste.

Can I Make This Recipe Ahead Of Time?

You can prepare the cauliflower florets and the batter ahead of time, but it’s best to fry the cauliflower just before serving to ensure crispiness. 

Can I Freeze The Leftover Cauliflower?

Yes, you can freeze the leftover cauliflower for up to 3 months. To reheat, place the cauliflower in the oven at 350°F (177°C) for 15-20 minutes until heated through.

Vegan Deep-Fried Cauliflower

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4
Calories: 323kcal

Ingredients

For the deep-fried cauliflower florets:

  • 1/2 cup each of all-purpose flour and cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. each garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt and red chili powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into small florets
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For the Manchurian sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 scallions chopped (green parts reserved for garnish)
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. each soy sauce and tomato ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. each chili paste rice vinegar, and sugar
  • 1 Tbsp water + 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • For the sauce: mix the soy sauce, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, and chili paste in a bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water. Set aside.
  • In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chili peppers, and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  • Add the onions, scallion whites, and bell pepper, and season with a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until the onions are translucent and soft.
  • Add the sauce and stir, then stir-fry for 1 min. Stir the cornstarch slurry again and add it to the pan. Continue stirring and cooking until the sauce becomes thick and glossy. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Turn off the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.
  • In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, garlic and onion powder, salt, and chili powder. Gradually add water, whisking non-stop, to make the batter.
  • Dip the cauliflower into the batter in batches, making sure they’re well coated.
  • Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is 335º-350ºF, carefully drop half of the cauliflower into the oil and fry until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  • Let the oil reach 335º-350ºF and repeat with the second batch of cauliflower.
  • Increase the oil temperature to 375-400ºF and flash fry all the cauliflower for 30 seconds to 1 minute until deeply golden brown. Drain on new paper towels.
  • Add the cauliflower florets to the cooled Manchurian sauce and gently mix to coat evenly. Garnish with scallion greens and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 484mg | Potassium: 629mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 435IU | Vitamin C: 99mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 2mg

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