Baked Cauliflower Manchurian By Oh My



Photos by Emily Caruso

Believe it or not, some of my favorite foods on the planet have never graced my own kitchen. Sad but true, especially given the fact that I love to cook and blog about it. Deep-fried foods, in particular, I seem to have categorized as “off-limits.” Somehow or another, “off limits” doesn’t apply when I’m eating at a restaurant, though. I guess this is because I think of restaurant nights as special occasions, but that’s silly, because I love to cook! Special occasions have every right to come from my own kitchen, even if I can’t get over the whole frying thing. All of this is especially true when it comes to Indian food, and I love me some Indian food…especially the fried stuff. The fried stuff doesn’t always need to be fried though; I can totally improvise (as demonstrated by Exhibit A).

Cauliflower Manchurian, or gobi Manchurian, as it will often appear on restaurant menus, is actually an Indian-Chinese fusion dish, and it’s one of those special-occasion restaurant items that I love to order out but never even considered making at home. This stuff is seriously fried, even sometimes double fried (gasp!). If you’ve ever roasted up some cauliflower though, you probably realize that double deep frying is totally unnecessary. Roasting gives cauliflower amazing texture and flavor; you’ll never miss the greasy fried coating.

Cauliflower Manchurian (1 of 6)But just in case you do miss it, I’ve covered that too, taking a cue from this Firecracker Cauliflower recipe. I created a vegan version by omitting the eggs and using panko breadcrumbs. The result is a bunch of tasty little chunks of cauliflower goodness covered in a crispy (and virtually greaseless!) baked-on shell. Oh, and let’s not forget the Manchurian gravy, which is just a bit sweet, a bit salty, as spicy as you want, and loaded with delicious flavors representing the best of Chinese and Indian food.

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Baked Cauliflower Manchurian

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

25 minutes

Total Time

35 minutes


4 servings


For the Baked Cauliflower:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup unflavored soy or almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium cauliflower crown (about 1 1/2 pounds), broken into florets
  • Grapeseed oil (or another neutral flavored vegetable oil)

For the Manchurian Gravy:

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (or another neutral flavored vegetable oil)
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons Asian chili paste (or sriracha sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chilled water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro


Make the Baked Cauliflower:

  1. Stir flour and ground flax seeds together in medium bowl. Whisk in milk and soy sauce. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes, adding a little more milk if it seems too thick to evenly coat cauliflower.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  3. Stir panko breadcrumbs, black pepper and cayenne together in medium bowl.
  4. Dip each cauliflower floret into flour-milk batter and roll to coat, shaking off any excess batter. Transfer to panko breadcrumb mixture and gently roll to coat. Place on prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray with oil using a mister or cooking spray. Bake until fork-tender and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes.

Make the Manchurian Gravy:

  1. While cauliflower bakes, place oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add white parts of scallions, garlic, ginger, celery and serrano pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, soy sauce, tomato paste, agave or maple syrup, rice vinegar, chili paste and black pepper. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir chilled water and cornstarch together in small bowl. Add to gravy mixture and stir to incorporate. Allow to simmer for about another minute, just until mixture thickens. Stir in scallion greens and cilantro.


  1. Divide cauliflower onto plates or bowls and top with gravy. Serve immediately.


The flax seeds do a great job of giving the batter an eggy consistency and binding the panko. I’m always amazed by them. Thanks Felicia! 🙂

Hi Diane! You could omit it. Just skip the sautéing step, and instead throw everything into the saucepan at once and bring to a simmer.

Good afternoon! First, I need to say YUM! This looks SOOOOOOO good! My question for you is: Our days are so hot (ie: we got up at 5:30 am to go for a walk and it was already 86 degrees – currently, it’s 104 and it’s only going to get hotter as the days pass), I was wondering if you could tell me how I could adapt this recipe for the slow cooker? Is that even possible? I’d love to make it NOW but the thought of turning on the oven when we’re already melting just isn’t an option.

I appreciate any and all suggestions you or your followers have to offer.



Hi Marcia! I totally hear you. We’ve only had a few days of 90+ temperatures where I’m at, and I was definitely not up for turning on the oven. I don’t think this would work in the slow cooker though, as the breadcrumb coating probably wouldn’t crisp up. You might be able to get away with cooking the cauliflower on a barbecue grill, though I’ve never tried grilling cauliflower with a panko coating like this. Otherwise, maybe try lightly steaming the cauliflower, then coating it and pan-searing to get a little crispness. The crust probably won’t hold up as well as if you’d baked it, but some of it will probably stay in tact.

I made these as a side dish and they were great. Main dish next time! I messed up the batter a bit though by making it too thick, I think. the batter coating just seemed to dominate more than it should. Was still excellent but will thin down a bit before rolling in the panko next time. And there defintely will be a next time.

They definitely work as a main – that’s how we had them. Glad to hear you liked this dish and will make it again! Thank you for your comment! 🙂

Hello, I am going to make this tomorrow but wanted to substitute soy or almond milk. Can I use regular milk or water or would you have any other suggestion. Thank you

I think regular milk or water would work fine, or any other type of non-dairy milk for that matter, as long as it’s unflavored. Enjoy!

Does the cauliflower come out crispy? My main reason to fry is because I like the crispiness. If oven baked has the same effect then I would def prefer this healthier version. Thanks!

The panko breadcrumbs form a crispy coating on the cauliflower, so while it’s not exactly the same as frying, it’s definitely a satisfying alternative. 🙂

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