Sunday, February 04, 2007

Who invented Gobi Manchurian?

Whenever our gang in Pittsburgh went out to Chinese restaurants, the one dish that would always be ordered was General Tso's chicken (with variations on the spelling of "Tso"). Today's NYTimes magazine has a story by Fuchsia Dunlop tracing the origin of this dish. Why?

General Tso’s (or Zuo’s) chicken is the most famous Hunanese dish in the world. A delectable concoction of lightly battered chicken in a chili-laced sweet-sour sauce, it appears on restaurant menus across the globe, but especially in the Eastern United States, where it seems to have become the epitome of Hunanese cuisine. Despite its international reputation, however, the dish is virtually unknown in the Chinese province of Hunan itself. ...

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This prompted me to look for info on the origin of 'Gobi Manchurian' (Gobi = Cauliflower), the dish that has invaded every restaurant menu in Bengalooru (and probably elsewhere in India as well). It is probably an Indian invention. A Business India story (cited here) seems to agree. Heck, it even figures in this site for 'traditional Tamil recipes'!

This American says it could well have been General Tso's cauliflower. In the comments section of this post, Lulu says Vir Sanghvi has written a hilarious account of the origin of this dish. Some more time on Google landed me on Rashmi Bansal's post on Gobi Manchurian served in Udipi restaurants.

Oh well ... For what it's worth, the best Gobi Manchurian in Bengalooru is served at Ginza, the Chinese place on Church Street right next to K.C. Das which at the corner of Church Street and St. Marks Road. [Ginza, I believe, is a part of the Chung Wah group of Chinese restaurants, but I'm not sure how great it is at the other places.]


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    Slightly off topic but I cannot resist pointing this research about Indian food:
    Apparently Idli came from East Asia.

  2. Anant said...

    All these years I thought that it either came from the Gobi desert or the Manchurian desert and now you tell me it comes from Hunan...

  3. Srivalli said...

    Thanks for this article, I came here looking for origin of manchurian..Its good to know it was invented by indian. Nice blog you have with loads of information. Will be back to check more. Thanks!

  4. Anonymous said...

    invented by Nelson Wang

  5. qwan said...

    Yes it is an Indian invention. I have read it before.
    The original recipe had 17 ingredients and no cornflour or MSG/ajinomoto
    I cannot find the links I landed up here when I tried to search for it.
    Feel like making some original gobi manchuri
    Laughing at the comment where someone thought it was from gobi desert
    Dude Gobi is the hindi word for cauliflower.
    obviously it is an Indian dish.

  6. Toffee said...

    I lived in India fro some time, this was a favorite especially the one served at Shazan near Vittel Malaya Road where I used to live in.
    I am Malaysian, but I really doubt this is a Chinese dish unless of course you say it could have been inspired thus from Sweet sour Pork and Sweet Sour Prawns and Fish dishes. Pork and Prawns do not go down to well with Indians in general so some one would have picked the recipe added some spices taken awa some ingredients things added it to Cauliflower and BINGO Aloo Gobi a fanatastic creation.