Vegan Daddy’s favourite Chinese takeaway dish is a veggie sweet and sour so I really wanted to recreate one at home that would be a bit healthier so the kids could enjoy it too. This actually does taste like a sweet and sour takeaway but nicer! It has less salt, no MSG and no refined sugar or colourings. I added battered cauliflower to try to replicate the taste of chicken in it, and it’s baked, not fried, so healthier. I like it with loads of pineapple, red and green peppers and onions for added goodness. But you can add any veggies you want, carrot, broccoli or mushrooms are good too, as well as bean sprouts and water chestnuts. And I serve it with wholegrain rice to make it healthier.
I don’t often use hard to find ingredients but there are a few ingredients in this that could be hard to find. Gram flour or chickpea flour is available in Tesco, health shops and some Indian or middle eastern shops. Tamarind paste and rice wine vinegar are available in Tesco, some health shops and Asian shops. You could also use malt vinegar or white wine vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar. Bragg’s liquid aminos is available in some health shops, and I used it as a healthier alternative to soy sauce, but you could use regular soy sauce or tamari if gluten free. Agave syrup is available in health shops and some supermarkets but you could replace it with sugar or another sweetener if you want.
If you don’t have much time or don’t have gram flour then you can skip battering the cauliflower florets and just add them to the veggies when they’re frying, which is lovely too and is what I do quite often. But I think the battered cauliflower makes it extra special.
For the battered cauliflower:
1.5 cups gram flour (chickpea flour)
1 cup of water
1 head of cauliflower
For the sauce:
4 tbsp. tamarind paste
3 tbsp. agave syrup
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar (malt vinegar or other vinegar will work)
2 tbsp. Bragg’s liquid aminos (or soy sauce/tamari)
2 heaped tbsp. tomato purée
1/4 cup of water
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 pineapple (depending how much you like pineapple!)
Cooked wholegrain rice to serve
How it’s made:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Whisk together the gram flour with 1 cup of water and a little salt if you want.
Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets.
Coat each floret of cauliflower in the batter and place on a piece of kitchen towel to drain off any excess batter.
Line a baking tray or two with greaseproof paper or use a non-stick baking tray.
Place the cauliflower florets on the baking trays, making sure that none of them are touching each other.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice to avoid burning. Some batter will stick a bit to the tray but don’t worry about that.
Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl or jug.
Peel and slice the onion. Deseed and chop the peppers. Peel and core the pineapple and chop into roughly 2cm cubes.
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat and fry the onion for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the peppers and fry for a few more minutes.
Add the pineapple and fry for a few more minutes.
Add the sauce to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes until it is the consistency that you want.
When the cauliflower is baked, add it to the pan and mix in just before serving.
Serve with wholegrain rice.