Manchurian is a term for a type of Indian Chinese foods that are made by aggressively chopping and deep-frying ingredients. Manchurian can include many ingredients like chicken, prawn, fish, cauliflower, and mutton. After it’s been deep-fried, the manchurian is usually then sauteed in soy sauce.
In manchurian food, corn flour is traditionally used as a binding and thickening ingredient. It helps to keep the ingredients from falling apart, and also adds a crispy coating. Instead of using corn flour, there are some other options. You could also use wheat flour, arrowroot, potato starch, rice flour, xanthan gum, or tapioca.
1. Wheat Flour
Most people are familiar with wheat flour. It is a common ingredient in many American foods. The main difference between wheat flour and corn flour is that wheat flour contains protein and fiber. This means you’ll need to use more wheat flour to get the same effect. It is recommended to use double the amount that you would’ve needed with the corn starch.
When using it as a thickening agent, it’s best to mix the wheat flour with some water beforehand. This will turn it into a paste that will prevent the flour from clumping onto other ingredients. Wheat flour is a nice substitute for corn flour, but it’s not gluten free, so keep that in mind if cooking for someone with a gluten allergy.
Arrowroot is a type of flour that is starchy and made from the root of tropical plants. To be made into arrowroot, the roots of plants get dried and ground into a fine powder. This powder can then be used as a thickening ingredient. It has more fiber than corn starch, so some people prefer arrowroot.
When mixed with water, arrowroot becomes a clear gel. This makes it perfect for thickening liquids that are clear. Arrowroot is also gluten free, so it is suitable for those with intolerances to gluten.
3. Potato Starch
Potato starch is created by crushing potatoes so their starch content can be released, and then drying the potatoes into a powder. It is not a grain, so it contains no gluten. Potato starch is a refined starch, meaning it is high in carbs and has very little protein or fat. Its flavor is pretty bland, so it won’t add any unnecessary or unwanted flavor to your food.
Potato starch should be substituted for corn flour in a one to one ratio. So, use the same amount of potato starch that you would’ve for corn flour. Many cooks recommend adding starches like potato starch or arrowroot, because they absorb water quicker and thicken faster than grain-based starches. Many other types of flour are similar to potato starch.
4. Rice Flour
When rice is finely ground into a powder, it creates rice flour. It is used in Asian cultures popularly as an additive for desserts, soups, and rice noodles. Rice flour is gluten free naturally, making it a popular candidate for people who are sensitive to gluten.
Rice flour is colorless when it is mixed with water, so it can be good for thickening clear liquids. It can act as a useful thickener, making it a sufficient replacement for corn flour.
5. Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a vegetable gum that is created by fermenting sugar with a type of bacteria. It produces a gel that is dried and then turned into a powder. This powder can be used in cooking, and very small amounts of xanthan gum can go a long way in thickening a liquid.
When consumed in large amounts, it can cause digestive issues. But large amounts of xanthan gum should not be used in thickeners. It is best to use very small amounts at a time until your ingredient becomes pasty. Using too much will cause it to become slimy.
Tapioca is created by extracting starch from cassava, which is a vegetable native to South America. The cassava roots are ground to a pulp and the starch is filtered out, then dried. Interestingly, some types of cassava contain cyanide, so they must be carefully cleaned and inspected before sale.
Tapioca can be found in the form of flour, flakes, or pearls, and it is also gluten free. It’s recommended to double the amount of tapioca when using it as a corn flour replacement.
Manchurian is a popular type of Indian Chinese food. Typically, it contains corn flour, but it doesn’t have to. If you don’t have any corn starch on hand or want to try something else, there are plenty of corn flour substitutes that do the job just as well.