½teaspoonfreshly crushed black pepperor black pepper powder or white pepper powder
2tablespoonsall purpose flour
½teaspoonsalt or add as per taste
oil as required, for shallow or deep frying - sunflower oil or any neutral tasting oil
For corn starch or cornflour paste
1tablespooncornflour (known as corn starch outside india)
For gravy or sauce
1 to 1.5 tablespoonsoil- toasted sesame oil or sunflower oil or any neutral tasting oil
4tablespoonsfinely chopped onions or chopped spring onion whites(scallion whites)
1tablespoonfinely chopped ginger
1tablespoonfinely chopped garlic
2green chillies- finely chopped
¼cupfinely chopped capsicum(green bell pepper) - optional
1tablespoonfinely chopped celery(optional)
2 to 3teaspoonsred chilli sauce(spicy and not sweet)
1teaspoonrice vinegar or regular white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 to 1.25cupswateror vegetable stock
½teaspoonblack pepper powderor freshly crushed black pepper or white pepper powder
¼ to ½teaspoon raw sugar to tasteor white sugar - add as required
1tablespoonspring onion greens(scallion greens) for garnishing
Making vegetable balls
Take the finely chopped or grated veggies in a bowl.
Then add the dry ingredients - corn starch, all-purpose flour (maida), black pepper and salt.
Mix and gather the whole mixture together. Then kind of mix and knead so that the veggies leave water and you get a dough-like mixture. But do not knead like that a bread or roti dough. Gluten strands can form that will give a dense chewy texture in the fried veggie balls. So just mix very well and press so that the veggies release their juices.
Then take a small portion of the mixture in your hands.
Press and roll it in your palm and make a round veggie ball. You can spread some oil on your palms while making the vegetable balls.
Make all veggie balls this way and keep aside.
Frying veggie balls
Heat oil for deep frying in a kadai or pan. Add a small piece of a ball to the hot oil. If the balls does not stick or settle down at the bottom of the pan, but comes up steadily the oil is ready for frying these veg manchurian balls. If the balls break, then some more binding agent is required. So you can add 2 to 3 teaspoons of some more all purpose flour (maida).
Gently place the balls in the hot oil. The oil has to be medium hot. Too much heat and the manchurian balls will be browned from top and uncooked from inside. Less hot oil will make the balls absorb too much of oil.
When cooked from one side, turn the balls with a slotted spoon.
Fry the balls till crisp and golden.
Remove them with a slotted or perforated spoon and drain as much as oil as possible.
Place the fried veg manchurian balls on kitchen paper towels. For a low fat version, you can cook the veggie balls in an appe-appam pan or æbleskiver pan.
Fry the veg manchurian balls this way in batches and keep aside.
Making sauce or gravy
In a small bowl take the following three sauces - soy sauce, tomato ketchup and red chilli sauce.
Mix the sauces very well and keep aside.
In another small bowl take 1 tablespoon cornflour and 2 tablespoons water. Mix very well and keep aside.
Heat 1 to 1.5 tablespoons oil in a pan or wok. Add the chopped spring onions, finely chopped ginger, finely chopped garlic, finely chopped green chilies and finely chopped capsicum. Adding capsicum is optional.
Stir fry on medium flame till the onions turn translucent.
Now add the mixed sauces. Stir and mix very well.
Add 1 to 1.25 cups water. Let the mixture come to a boil.
Mix the cornflour paste again in the bowl (as the cornflour settles at the bottom) and then add in the pan.
As soon as you add cornflour paste, mix very well so that there are no lumps.
Continue to stir and mix when the veg manchurian gravy is cooking. Simmer till the sauce thickens and you see a glaze in it. There should be no raw taste of the cornflour in the sauce. Cooking sauce or gravy takes about 3 to 4 minutes on a medium flame. If the sauce is too thick, then you add some water. If it is too thin, then you can add some cornflour.
When the veg manchurian sauce thickens, add ½ teaspoon black pepper powder.
Season with a bit of salt. Do keep in mind that the soy sauce, chilli sauce and tomato ketchup already has salt in it. So add less salt and as per your taste preferences.
Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar. Mix very well.
Then add the fried veg manchurian balls. Also add 1 teaspoon of Rice vinegar or regular vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
Gently stir and coat the veg manchurian balls in the gravy.
Switch off the flame add chopped spring onion greens.
Serve veg manchurian hot garnished with some spring onion greens. This manchurian gravy goes well with veg fried rice, plain rice and even bread or the chapati or rotis.
Consistency: The best part of most Indian-Chinese recipes is you can change the consistency as per your liking. If you want a thin consistency, add some veg broth or water. If you want a thick consistency, add a few teaspoons of cornflour paste. This dish thickens after it cools down. So when reheating you may have to add some water.
Ajinomoto (MSG): I have not added any msg to the recipe. If you want a more restaurant style effect, you can do so. But a word of caution - msg or mono sodium glutamate is not good for the health.
Frying: Remember to fry the veg manchurian balls on medium heat. If they are fried on a high heat, then the outside will get cooked and the inside will be not cooked leaving a doughy taste in the mouth. If they are fried on a low heat, they will absorb oil and this will make them oily and soggy.
Sugar: I like the sweet sour taste of Indo Chinese food and hence I have added raw sugar to the recipe. You can use any other sweetener like palm sugar or coconut sugar instead of sugar.
Soy Sauce: Use naturally fermented soy sauce. The soy sauce I use does not have any sugar added to it. You may avoid this or check the ingredients list in your soy sauce if sugar is there in it or not.