How to make a healthy veg manchurian – No fry recipe
I have written about Indo-Chinese food earlier on, in this space. One episode of Vir Sanghvi’s A Matter of Taste was dedicated to this cuisine [he calls it Sino-Ludhianavi cuisine], its origins in India and its evolution. While the taste is absolutely lip smacking and addictive, it can be very high in fat content. The ingredients are fried on a high heat and to keep them from burning, large quantities of oil are used, which is why you see the rich gloss on the noodles and rice served.
One of my early favourites during my introduction to Indo-Chinese food was the vegetable manchurian. The manchurian balls are made using finely minced vegetables, coated with corn flour mixed with spices and deep fried till golden brown. These crispy balls can then either be coated with a mix of sauted ginger – garlic bits to make a dry cocktail snack. These balls can be floated in a spicy tangy sauce to serve as a main course dish with rice or noodles. Bits of minced meat, fish or chicken can be used as a base to make the balls to suit the meat-lover’s palate.
I’m alright with eating the fried manchurian in places like Dynasty (my favourite Indo-Chinese eating joint near my place), but since I hate deep frying at home, plus because I think deep frying is the most non-creative way of cooking – i decided to try the steaming method.
In the deep fried method, the main veggies used are cabbage and carrots, which are relatively dry compared to gourds, which is why I used a portion of watery gourd to give the volume and lightness while steaming, going by the logic that using very dry vegetables in the balls would lead to tough bouncy balls after steaming.
My logic did work this time and post steaming the manchurian turned out light and well cooked inside, and they increased in size by 50% – without any addition of baking soda or powder whatsoever.
After soaking them in the sauce, they became even more succulent and flavourful on absorbing all the flavours from the sauce.
So when in mood for healthy Indo-Chinese, I would surely go for this dish with a plate of plain noodles or lightly spiced rice and greens.
You can even wilt a bunch of your favourite greens to make a heartier sauce. This can be thinned out to a soup like consistency too – a dumpling soup kinda.
Healthy no-fry Veg Manchurian in Gravy
For the manchurian balls
- 1 cup zucchini grated (or bottlegourd)
- 2 carrots medium , finely grated
- 2 cups cabbage finely grated or minced
- 1 cup whole wheat flour Upto
- 1 tbsp ginger finely minced / grated
- 2 green chillies , finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- handful coriander leaves , finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
- 2 chillies fresh green / red , finely chopped
- 1 tsp chopped ginger finely
- 4 - 5 garlic flakes of , finely minced
- 1 strips green bell pepper carrot or , cut into
- 1 red onion medium , finely sliced
- 1 cup spring onion chopped greens
- 1 - 2 tbsps soy sauce
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- black pepper Freshly ground
- 1 tbsp wheat flour water dissolved in one cup
- 1 cup water vegetable stock or
- To prepare the healthy version of Veg Machurian, in a large bowl, mix all ingredients for the manchurian balls, except flour.
- Add flour gradually, while kneading, without using any water. The salt will drain out the water in the gourd. Add upto one cup flour until you get a soft pliable, non sticky dough.
- Place 4-5 cups of water in the steamer, bring to a boil.
- Make small balls - about over an inch diameter and arrange them on the oiled perforated vessel to be kept in the steamer. You could also use a bamboo steamer or idli maker.
- Steam for 10-12 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the balls comes out clean.
- While the balls are steaming, you can get the sauce ready.
- To make sauce: In a large wok, heat a tbsp of vegetable oil. On high heat, saute the chillies, ginger and garlic for a few seconds.
- Add the bell pepper, onions and half the spring onion greens, rapidly stir on high heat for 1-2 minutes, till somewhat cooked yet crunchy.
- Add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper, stir well.
- Pour into the wok the wheat flour-water mixture. Let this come to a boil and thicken.
- Adjust the thickness of the sauce to your liking, using the remaining one cup water or stock.
- Garnish with remaining spring onion greens, put in the steamed balls. Let this come to a simmer. Let the balls soak in the sauce for around 15 minutes before serving hot with rice or noodles.
Have been reading your blog for sometime. Have read and enjoyed Vir Sanghvi’s book, too. My duaghter, especially, loves manchurian and I love the idea of not frying it. Will definitely try this one.
Yay! Finally an Indo-chinese recipe without any anjinomoto! Sanghvi’s tone was so condescending in that particular episode!
Very healthy and innovative Nandita, looks yummy !
that is an interesting twist to the manchurian, reminds me of muthia, which is steamed as well 🙂
What a wonderful idea that is Nandita. I love manchurian of all kinds but don’t make it that often because of deep frying. Hope to try this method soon! Thanks.
Wow what a great idea! The picture looks fab, one would never guess it isn’t fried!
Manchurian is always yummy and yours is healthy too :). Good one, dear!
Who doesn’t like Veg Manchurian? Too often, though, in restaurants, the smell and taste of stale oil spoil the dish. And at home I, too, avoid deep-fat frying for a variety of reasons. Your recipe looks fabulous, and with all those yummy vegetables is sure to be delicious. I will certainly try it out soon! Thanks!Kamini
Looks delicious! I never would’ve thought of steaming the veggie manchurian – pan frying or baking maybe. Am bookmarking this. Thanks, nandita! 🙂
Aparna, glad that you enjoy reading my blog and for leaving your comments. Hope you try this out soon.Malini- yes, completely agree with you – felt he was condescending on most counts, except when he was talking to 5 Star Hotel chefs – did not care for the program much thereafter.Bindiya – thanks :)Richa- Actually, before turning them into balls, I was actually thinking of rolling the dough into logs and slicing them after steaming, just like we’d do for muthias….so you are very right there, in face muthia is also veggies and flour, not very different.Laavanya, Sig, Musical, Kamini – Hope you guys try it and like it as much as I did 🙂
Nandita, this is an awesome recipe. With so many Asian dinner nights, this ones sure to be tried. Thx for the recipe.
Nandita, Thats just fabulous! What can be better than homemade and healthy chinese food! Will try this for sure! Thanks for sharing!
Hey Nandita! Hope you had a great Diwali! This is a brilliant recipe .. steaming indeed. I have to try it out:):) Thnx!!
so there’s a reason why my noodles and other chinese stuff at home are not glossy… I can live with that 🙂 Have to try this out.
wow!!! love this homemade chinese dish….fab pic….thanks for sharing such an awesome dish.belated happy diwali!!!
Just love this! My husband and I love veggie manchurian and the fact that we can’t get any outside, I always make it at home. I too hate deep-frying and thought of trying out a steamed version several times but never gave it a shot. I will try it now with your tried-tested and loved recipe! Thanks 🙂
I just love this post. I refrain from making manchurian however much I love them, coz they are fried. I am definitely going to try these very, very soon. Thank you soo much & a big hug
lovely, luks delicious, nanditha
hey! this sounds really yummilicious – and healthy! I have been researching GI and wholegrain diet for a while now and translating to Indian palate is proving a bit tricky. This one – I am going to try this for the weekly chinese night. can’t wait!
rooockkkkiingggggggggam gona try this now that i am servantless:-P
Hi NanditaYou can also try baking the vegetable balls instead of steaming them – kind of like koftas – I combined the recipes from these two websites -http://www.burntmouth.com/2007/08/baked-zucchini-kofta.htmlhttp://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2007/06/baked-spinach-kofta-with-cucumber.htmland used 1 grated zuchini, 1/2 potato, 1/3 block tofu and spinach – came out really good. I was thinking that they would be really great in a manchurian gravy (healthy one) when I saw your post for steamed koftas in the manchurian gravy. I’m going to try yours – hope you try this baked version too.I love your blog and am delurking for the first time to comment.:-)Gayathri
I’m new to the blogging world (don’t have one, but enjoy reading others’). I tried this recipe last night with a few modifications, and it turned out wonderfully. I used cauliflower, carrots, and peas to the balls and baked them. I added cilantro and garam masala to the sauce. I served it with jasmine rice, which I cooked, then added to frozen mixed veggies, which I stir-fried with ginger, garlic, salt, chopped cilantro, crushed red pepper, black pepper, asafoetida, and a spoon of soy sauce.
Now , this is called something really creative 🙂 . I agree with you , and also avoid deep fried cooking as far as possible, except few exceptions !!! although it is true that fired things tastes better then steamed one, i feel it good while eating steamed one , as it creates the feel that i m eating something healthy 🙂 . I really loved the way you make manchurian, thanks for sharing, after all, healthy diet is what a leads to good life 🙂
Good idea to add zucchini while steaming! Thanks for that tip.
a good recipe of manchurian without using oil can we add any vegetable of our choice
Hi Nandita, I tried the steamed version but they did not turn out well, probably i added excess flour, they turned out lumpy and hard. the next time i tried baking them and they were great and tasted exactly like the fried version albeit slightly harder.Thanks to you for the idea, its lovely to eat a healthier version of the popular manchurian.
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Hi Nandita,Just tried this recipe. The steaming did not work fine for me as well. I put them in an idli cooker and they got flat instead of retaining their round shape. It was not as easy to cut through too when eating – its was like a paste. May be the next time I will squeeze the excess water from the vegetables and then try adding the water. Hope it works.
Just tried this recipe last night, and it turned out pretty well. I used a bamboo steamer. I think the manchurian balls were a little softer than I’d like–perhaps I’ll bake them for a few minutes after steaming next time. But thank you so much for the healthy alternative to frying!
am plg to try this out tonight.. however, your recipe does not say, how many portions or how many people this quantity will serve.. or am I missing something?? ( am new to your site )
Could you please advise how to make wheat flour water?
just mix some flour and water to make a slurry