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Gobi 65 – Vegan Crispy Cauliflower Bites

Gobi 65 in a small bowl with lime, fresh curry leaves, and dried red chillis

Gobi 65 – What an intriguing name, you may think! Indeed, Gobi 65 is a very strange name for a recipe. But let me explain: Gobi is the Hindi word for Cauliflower, which makes sense as the main ingredient of the recipe. 65 on the other hand is a lot harder to deduce. Nobody can agree – some say that it’s because the original recipe included 65 ingredients, while others say that the restaurant who creates the dish was founded in 1965. Others still suggest that it was the 65th dish on the menu!

Whatever the origin of the name, this dish really is something spectacular. The Vegetarian (now Vegan!) version of the Chennai classic ‘Chicken 65’, Gobi 65 happens to be my all time favourite cauliflower recipe.

Blanched cauliflower florets are drenched in a batter made from intense spices and chickpea flour, then deep fried until the outside is a crispy, crunchy, spicy delight while the inside is perfectly soft and tender. And that’s not all! A tempering with traditional South Indian flavours – pungent ginger, fiery dried chillis, sweet and tangy fresh curry leaves, a little sugar and a punch of acidity all come together to coat the crispy cauliflower bites.

Gobi 65 is like Cauliflower Wings – but better. A must try for everyone.

Is Gobi 65 Vegan, Gluten Free and Nut Free?

My recipe for Gobi 65 is Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Nut Free and Soy Free. This means that it’s the perfect appetiser or party food for everyone regardless of dietary preferences or needs.

Usually, Gobi 65 is not Vegan and sometimes it is also not Gluten Free either. So what makes my recipe suitable for everyone?

Firstly, this dish uses Cornflour and Chickpea Flour (Besan) for the batter, which are both naturally Gluten Free as opposed to Plain Flour.

Additionally when the cauliflower is tempered, instead of using the traditional yoghurt, this recipe uses either Lemon Juice, Vegan Yoghurt, or Cider Vinegar for the acidic flavour.

Tips to make the make best Gobi 65:

  • If the batter looks too runny, just add 1 tsp extra Chickpea Flour at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. And if it’s too thick – add a splash of water.
  • When frying the Gobi 65, be sure not to overcrowd the pan. This prevents the florets from sticking together and allows them room to get properly crispy!
  • If you want a vibrant red colour, use larger amounts of Kashmiri Chilli Powder as opposed to ordinary Chilli Powder – it has a great flavour and very bright colour.
  • What you use to get the acidic taste in this recipe will dictate the texture. If you use lemon juice or cider vinegar, you’ll have a much drier dish. The tempering won’t stick so well to the cauliflower, but it will be delicious.
  • If you use Vegan yoghurt in the tempering, whisk it well beforehand and mix the powdered spices with it. Add it when the temperature of the pan is low and don’t overheat.
  • You can skip the tempering step entirely and just eat the crunchy cauliflower like pakora.

Can you oven bake or air-fry Gobi 65?

For the best results, I recommend that Gobi 65 is deep fried. It may not be particularly healthy – but a little bit of indulgence never hurt anyone! My motto is everything in moderation.

Having said that, if you want to go for the healthy route, baking or air-frying is a wonderful option that will produce great results.

To bake Gobi 65, preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. When making the batter, be sure that it’s a little thick and sticking well to the cauliflower – add a little additional flour if necessary. Once the oven is hot, line a baking tray with baking parchment or tinfoil, and carefully arrange the battered florets. Be sure to not overlap the florets. Spray or drizzle a little neutral oil over the top and bake for 20 minutes, turning half way in-between. If the Gobi 65 needs a little more crispiness, simply grill for an additional 5 minutes.

To air fry Gobi 65, heat your air fryer to 180 degrees C. Spray the basket with cooking oil. When making the batter, be sure that it’s a little thick and sticking well to the cauliflower – add a little additional flour if necessary. When ready, carefully place the florets into the basket, being sure not to overcrowd. Fry for 6 minutes, and then carefully turn the pieces around and fry for another 6 minutes, or until golden brown.

This Recipe Is …

  • Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Soy Free, and Nut Free
  • Crispy and crunchy with soft insides
  • Totally non-greasy – plus with options to air fry or oven bake
  • Addictive
  • Spicy and full of unique flavours
  • Budget Friendly

For more Vegan recipes, why not check out the following? Authentic Falafels – a Middle Eastern snack made from Chickpeas, Herbs and Spices; Aloo Palak, a semi-dry gravy with Potatoes and Spinach and a gorgeous coconut base; Vegetable Sambar, a mixed vegetable and lentil soup that’s warming and hearty; Chilli Tofu, an street food classic and Chinese inspired Indian dish with homemade tofu; Palak Puri, a puffy bread made with a spinach dough, or Chana Masala, the ultimate chickpea curry!

Gobi 65 tempered with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fresh curry leaves

Gobi 65 - Crispy Cauliflower Bites tempered with Curry Leaves

Yield: 2 (As a Side/Starter)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

These spicy, crispy little bites are made from battered cauliflower tossed in a spicy tempering of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves and lemon juice.

Ingredients

For the Batter:

To make the Tempering:

Instructions

  1. Blanch the Cauliflower. Take the chopped cauliflower florets and put them in a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Pour over boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  2. Make the batter. In a medium sized bowl mix together all the ingredients for the batter apart from water. Then slowly whisk the water into the mix until you get a smooth, lump free batter. Add the cauliflower to the batter and mix carefully. You can either fry now, or marinade for 30 minutes.
  3. Fry the Cauliflower*. Heat neutral oil in a large Kadai, deep saucepan or Deep Fryer over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and ready to fry (you can test around the handle of a wooden spoon - the oil should bubble around it), carefully add a batch of the Cauliflower. Make sure it is coated well before adding and don't overload the pan, as it may cause sticking. Fry for around 5 minutes, or until evenly golden brown and crispy. Then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and dry on kitchen towels.
  4. Make the tempering. In a medium sized non-stick frying pan or kadai heat 1 tbsp of oil over low heat. Once the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Then add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, minced ginger and garlic, and broken red chillis. Sauté until aromatic, the curry leaves are crispy, and the dried chillis have changed colour. Finally add the vegan yoghurt to the pan (if using) and mix well, then add the fried cauliflower florets, salt and sugar. If using lime juice instead, add the cauliflower and then squeeze the lime, salt and sugar on top and mix well.


Garnish with either Spring Onion Greens or fresh chopped Coriander (Cilantro) as you prefer. Serve hot.

Notes

*Instead of deep frying the cauliflower you can shallow fry, oven bake, or air fry. See tips in the text above for instructions.

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How to Serve Gobi 65

My favourite way to serve Gobi 65 is next to a bed of fresh salad with mixed greens, lettuce, onions, and even other additions like nuts, lentils, vegan cheese, tomatoes, or raw vegetables. This makes for a vibrant starter which is healthy and bursting full of flavour.

The crispy battered cauliflower florets also work incredibly well in a wrap with freshly made Garlic and Coriander Naan, salad, crunchy greens, and maybe even Chutney or Vegan Raita. Perfect for lunch or brunch!

If it’s a special occasion, why not serve Gobi 65 as the starter on a large vegetarian Thali? You can include dishes like Bhindi Masala or Patta Gobi Sabji, Dal Tadka, and Garlic and Coriander Naan,

Alternatively, why not go simple and present the battered cauliflower in a large platter or bowl, for everyone to helps themselves – buffet style?

  1. T. She says:

    Ellanor this looks so amazing. It’s definitely food for a special occasion! I will love trying this. Thanks so much for all your time and dedication in sharing your recipes with us

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