Tag Archives: starters

Baby-corn Manchurian

What used to be an exotic Chinese appetizer long back is now part of Indian street-food, what with the thela-wallas spewing out batch after batch of fiery-red coloured Manchurian from their mammoth-sized woks, while another guy churns out fried rice from an equally mammoth-sized wok, if not bigger. And 2-3 others, the assistants (sadly mostly child labourers), ensuring they put measured portions of the Fried-rice and Manchurian onto steel plates which have been topped with banana leaves (aaah, the South-Indian touch!) and hand them over, along with spoons and lopsided forks (if you could call them that, cos they’d be so disfigured you couldn’t tell they originally looked like forks!) to the ever-waiting deluge of customers…most of them, koochi-kooing couples passing-by to try and delay going home, or hungry people going back home after work, wanting to grab a quick bite, or some foodies generally hanging around the place cos the thela-walla is famous for his ‘Chenise’ food. Oh yes, I’ve seen atrocious versions for the way ‘Chinese’ is spelt on all these thelas! All this, believe me, will be happening in a kind of luggage auto, modified brilliantly (no, not a DC!) to accommodate everything – the mammoth-sized woks, 2 stoves, ladles, spoons, those lopsided forks, steel plates, big vessels to put in the readied food, oil cans and what not…you get the drift!

Though Baby-corn Manchurian is not so commonly prepared by the thela-wallas, its sibling, Gobi Manchurian out-does itself in each thela! Did you know they add curry leaves, coriander leaves and what not to Indian-ise it?!! They do their bit to prove that Indian cooking cannot happen without curry leaves and coriander leaves. I’ve even seen a tadka being used for Gobi Manchurian at some place! :D

Read on, for an authentic, healthier, non artificially-coloured version I made at home.

Ingredients:

  • Baby-corn – 15-20 nos
  • Ginger – 1″ long piece; finely chopped
  • Garlic – 10-12 pods; finely chopped
  • Spring Onion Shoots – 15-20 nos (chopped to 1/2″ pieces)
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Chilli sauce – 1-2 tbsps (or as much as you like)
  • Oil – 2 tbsps + more for deep-frying

For the coating batter:

  • Maida/All-purpose flour – 3/4th cup
  • Cornstarch powder – 1/4 cup
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 1 cup or more, to make a thin batter

Procedure:

  • Put together the dry ingredients mentioned for the batter. Stir well to ensure everything is mixed in uniformly. Now add 1 cup or more of water to make a thin batter (It shouldn’t be as thick as your pakoda/bajji/fritters batter, but slightly thinner than that. It should just coat the vegetable, not engulf!). Add the soy-sauce, stir well and set aside.
  • In the meanwhile, microwave the baby-corns (wholly) for 5-7 minutes on high, till they are near-cooked.
  • Take the baby-corns and slit each of them vertically into two, and cut each vertical into half, horizontally. This should give you 4 pieces of 2-3 inches each, from each baby-corn. I chose to cut them this way so they cook sooner. You could even cut rings of the baby-corn and use them. I find that too tedious though. (I hate standing in front of a frying pan, especially during summers. So the more baby-corn pieces there are, the longer I end up spending with the frying pan…not happening!).
  • Dip the baby-corn pieces, batch-by-batch in the readied batter, and deep-fry them in batches on a medium flame. Repeat with all the baby-corn pieces. Drain excess oil on a tissue and set aside. (In case the baby-corn pieces get stuck to each other while frying, don’t panic. You could separate them once they cool a little).
  • Now, in a wok, heat 2 tbsps oil. Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for a min or two.
  • Add the spring onions and saute till they wilt a little.
  • Now, simmer the flame and add the soy-sauce and chilli sauce. Stir well.
  • Immediately add the fried baby-corn pieces and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Once the baby-corn pieces are well coated with the sauces and ginger, garlic and spring onions, remove from flame.
  • Garnish with more spring onion shoots if you wish and serve hot as an appetizer, or along with your choice of Chinese entrée.

Tip: While letting the deep-fried baby-corn coat with the sauces and season with the ginger-garlic-spring onion mixture, you could throw in just 1/2 a tsp of sugar (don’t over do the sugar, else it will taste like honeyed fritters!), to get that glazy, caramelized look. It also lends just a hint of sweetness to the Manchurian, which some people might enjoy. So go ahead and try it if you like.

Aloo Makkai Sev di Tikki

Want to come play Tic-tac-toe with me? :) Would you believe me if I said that as I was arranging the tikkis for this picture, I actually doubled up as two people and played tic-tac-toe for a minute or two, before I became wrought with childhood memories of a boring and sleepy afternoon from my high school days, stealthily playing game after game on the last page of my copy book with a then best friend, seated in the last bench in class (I was always the tallest girl in class), incognizant of the fact that the teacher might be sternly looking (no, fuming) that we weren’t concentrating in her class and coming towards us to see what was going on under those bent heads, solemnly marking noughts and crosses with fervent strokes, as if our lives depended on them. “Shhh, the teacher’s coming, put away your silly game” warns a nerd from the bench in front of us, eye-brows knit, in agreement with the fast approaching, infuriated teacher and trying hard not to look very interested in what will happen to us, but still keeps rolling her eye-balls stealthily to see whatever she can catch of the tempestuous scene that will unfold, from the corner of her eye, while me and my friend shoot daggers at her to get her to mind her own business! But the teacher let us off with just a nod and a hint of what you could call a smile, because we were not playing tic-tac-toe by the time she got to us, instead we were innocently taking down her notes!! Now, why would she reprimand two such sincere girls at all? Mischief managed! ;) The nosey nerd however, wasn’t too happy that we got away with our shenanigans and gave us a look that threatened to tell on us. But she was outnumbered…we were two, and she was one, a puny little thing who could easily be bullied and browbeaten by either one of us…hah! We gave her a look that said “Mind it, or else….”, and the rest, is history! What fun school days were! Don’t you agree with me? :)

Back to the less exciting, mundane present which needs some sprucing up every now and then, I had had these ‘Aloo Makkai Sev di Tikkis’ about a couple of months back at ‘Punjabi Times’, a pretty well-known Panju restaurant here in B’lore. The tikkis were too yummy and I was dying to try them out at home and eat to my heart’s content. Got a chance to make them yesterday; the tikkis turned out just as yummy as I expected. You should positively try them out too…Im sure y’all will love them, just as much as I did!

Ingredients:

For the tikkis:

  • Potatoes – 10 nos (medium sized; cooked in the cooker till softly done)
  • American sweet corn kernels – 1 cup (cooked in the microwave for 5-7 minutes till softly done)
  • Garlic (optional) – 5-6 pods, minced/grated
  • Coriander/Cilantro – a handful, finely chopped
  • White Pepper powder (optional) – 1 tsp
  • Salt – taste
  • Oil (for frying) – as required

For the topping:

  • Maida/All purpose flour/Cornflour – 2 tbsps
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Aloo Bhujiya Sev/Sev – 1 1/2 to 2 cups

Procedure:

  • De-skin and mash the potatoes to a smooth, creamy mass. Add the corn kernels, minced garlic, coriander, white pepper powder (if using) and salt. Mix well to incorporate all the ingredients.
  • Take a small portion (a small handful) of the tikki mix and shape into a tikki of about 2 inch diameter. Smoothen the edges so that nothing is protruding out of the tikki. Repeat with rest of the tikkii mix.
  • In the meanwhile, prepare for the topping: Take the water in a wide cup and dissolve the maida/corn flour and salt in it, till it has no lumps. The batter should be slightly thin in consistency, but not too runny. If required, adjust the consistency accordingly.
  • Now, dip each tikki completely into the maida batter and immediately coat with the Aloo bhujiya sev. Use a wide plate for the aloo bhujiya to ease up the process of coating each tikki. Press the outer surface of the tikki gently to ensure the sev is stuck well on the surface. (For the novices, the maida batter helps the sev stay bound to the tikkies). Repeat with all tikkies.
  • In a shallow pan, heat 2 tbsps oil. Carefully and gently swirl the oil in the pan so that the entire inner surface of the pan is coated with the oil. Shallow-fry the readied tikkies  in batches of 4-5 or as many as your pan can hold at a time without crowding the pan. You would need to replenish the oil with every batch (yeah I know what you’re thinking).
  • Shallow fry both sides of the tikkies on a medium flame.
  • Once done, drop the tikkies on a tissue paper to drain excess oil.
  • Serve hot with ketchup or some Cilantro-Mint Chutney (coming right up, in the next post).

Aloos on the inside, aloos on the outside…anybody for some comfort food? :D