Chicken 65 is a popular spicy deep-fried chicken dish that originated in Andhra region of South India some decades ago. This Cauliflower 65 is a vegetarian take on the Chicken 65 recipe, usually served dry with lemon, and some sauce on the side.
The bright red color characteristic of this dish usually comes from red hot chilli powder. Here, keeping the kids (and me) in mind, a few drops of red food color give the dramatic effect without the heat. The sauce is a quick sweet-and-sour sauce with tamarind and brown sugar, flavored with finely diced onions and garlic, and garnished with cilantro.
I like to blanche the cauliflower so it is still crunchy but par-cooked. The batter is a simple mix of corn starch, rice flour and all-purpose flour much like my Vegetable Tempura batter.
Serve with rice or home-made naan.
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup fine rice flour
¼ cup cornstarch (separately to dredge the cauliflower)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper powder
4 drops of red food color (adjust to desired redness)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp soy sauce
½ cup water (more or less)
oil for deep frying
lime, green chillies, curry leaves and cilantro for garnish
- Blanch the cauliflower florets, drain and set aside
- Combine the rest of the batter ingredients, adding a little water at a time as needed, and beat to a fine consistency that is not too runny, not too thick Meanwhile, heat oil in for deep frying
- Dip the blanched cauliflower florets in the batter and deep fry in batches, drain, keep warm
- Sauce: For optional sauce to serve on the side, sauté some finely diced shallots or onions, and add ½ tsp tamarind paste, 2 cups water, 1 Tbsp brown sugar and simmer till the sauce reduces and thickens to desired consistency; then add salt to taste. I prefer the sauce not to watery, but not so thick like a pudding either :)