Mushrooms, it has to be said, have an image problem.
Say the word and far too many people think of them as just another ingredient, a journeyman foodstuff rather like a swan’s legs, working away like billy-o behind the scenes, so that people can ooh and ahh over other parts that consider themselves greater than the whole.
Enter Indian vegetarian cuisine, the archetypal hero on a white charger as far as the mushroom is concerned, complete with gold armour, flaming sword, and winning smile.
Indian cooking is pure wizardry, taking the ordinary, or the mundane, and transforming it into something wonderful.
Masala simply means “spice mix“. This particular masala is kind of a personal one that has developed out of my own preferences over the years.
It’s not exactly what you’d call orthodox at all, borrowing as it does a bit from one school, and another bit from somewhere else. It might not rank all that highly on the authenticity league table, but it more than makes up for it taste wise.
It’s a versatile dish, which eats just as well as a side dish or as a main course in its own right.
What’re you waiting for!? Make room for the mushrooms…!
- 250g mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed
- 5 spring onions, finely sliced
- a 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 habanero chilli, finely chopped
- ½ tsp nigella seeds
- ½ tsp black cumin seeds
- ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
- 2 tbsp of dried curry leaves
- 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder – see Notes
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- coconut oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat 4 tbsp of coconut oil over medium heat in a large, lidded non-stick pan. When the oil is up to heat, add the nigella seeds, black cumin seeds, brown mustard seeds, and dried curry leaves to the pan. Stir fry for a few seconds.
- Add the spring onions, ginger, and chopped fresh chilli to the pan. Stir fry for 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder, and dried fenugreek leaves. Continue to stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and tomato purée to the pan. Stir well.
- Add sufficient hot water to produce a sauce. Stir well.
- Add the mushrooms, and stir well to coat them with the sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Bring up to a low simmer, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring often, adding a splash of hot water if needed.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Serve.
Your best bet for getting hold of Kashmiri chilli powder, which you might see sold under its Hindi name of Kashmiri Mirch, will probably be your friendly neighbourhood Indian or Pakistani grocer or supermarket. If you can’t track any down, then use mild paprika with a dash of added cayenne pepper.