Street cart vendors bent over roaring flames are a common sight in India, tossing piles of sauce-drenched cauliflower florets in enormous pans. Gobi Manchurian is wildly popular, and for good reason. It satisfies nearly every flavor craving, with crispy-creamy deep-fried florets doused in gloriously tangy-­sweet-savory Manchurian sauce. Luckily, re-creating it at home isn’t as daunting as you might think. No roaring flames or frying needed.

A simple trick—a sprinkle of cornstarch—ensures that this delicious fast-food favorite is easily made in any kitchen. And it’s just as crispy.

Manchurian sauce, a distinctly Indo-Chinese creation, is a fairly recent addition to the Indian culinary canon. As the story goes, it was created in 1975, when Nelson Wang—a Kolkata-born restaurateur with Chinese roots—developed a chicken recipe that combined Indian and Chinese flavors, most notably by adding soy sauce to a mixture of classically Indian ingredients. Dubbed “chicken Manchurian,” the dish evolved into various forms from there. Today, tangy-sweet tomato-based Manchurian sauce is used on meats, vegetables and even paneer cheese.

“Indian-Chinese cuisine is a very integral part of Indian cuisine,” says Maneet Chauhan, chef and author of “Chaat: Recipes from the Kitchens, Markets, and Railways of India.” “There’s a whole world of Manchurian,” she adds.
Gobi Manchurian comes in two main styles: the ultra-saucy “gravy” type, and the classic deep-fried, more lightly sauced “dry” variety.

For the average home cook, deep-­frying can be a headache—messy, fussy and requiring a ton of oil. Instead, we prefer to let the oven do the frying: We coat the florets in a garam masala-spiked cornstarch and toss them in oil before roasting in a ripping-hot oven. The cornstarch serves as a protective barrier, ensuring that the exteriors get nice and crispy while the insides cook up tender and creamy. We also discovered that cutting correctly sized pieces of cauliflower is key to striking this balance.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be gobi Manchurian without the signature sauce. This one comes together easily thanks to several high-­impact ingredients, including soy sauce, rice vinegar and ketchup—which, Chauhan points out, in fact plays a robust role in Indian cooking. Much ­maligned in the U.S., this tomato condiment often is used as a flavor base for Indian chutneys and sauces. And when combined with the bold, fresh flavors of hot chilies, chopped scallions, fresh ginger and garlic, the result is an irresistible snack you can have anytime.