Kumbh hara bhara ~ Mushrooms in greens


My husband and I work at two ends of the snaking city of Mumbai. I work in the town side of the city while he works closer to the suburbs. It so happened that last month he had to make trips to my part of the city.

Now, you know how couples with children tend to lose time as a couple, after children come along? We have been in that phase a long time and we try to make as much as possible of any little time of ‘peaceful interventions’ that come our way. His coming to town was one such.

When he called me and said, “Free?”.
I’m like, “Not really, I’m in the middle of a report.”
He, “What?”
I, “I work here, you know!”
He, “Free for lunch?”

I immediately shut the file and questioningly look at my colleague who is nodding vigorously.  “Done.”
He, “Meet me outside Gaylord’s in five minutes. I must get back soon.”
I, “Hey! I am a lady. Give me 15mins.”
I left my ‘dabba’ [lunch box] with my lunch mates, pushed stuff into my sack and rushed out in the rain, singing under my breath, “Koi roko naa……” (but with an umbrella, for I had to get back to work).

Gaylord is an old landmark and a well known restaurant in South Mumbai. It’s been there since quite some time, next to Asiatic Stores. P and I have many good memories attached to this place, of our brief courtship period. I always make it a point to take my kids there and recount all this if we visit town, and they are tired of the repetitive stories. I however persist.

I am happy that I will have something new to tell them next time. I mean – it would certainly be more romantic to start off with “Last year, Daddy and I …….” instead of “In —-, Daddy and I…..” Wouldn’t it?

Gaylord has a nice bakery attached to the restaurant that sells sinfully delightful confectioneries, none of which are vegan. They don’t beckon me any more but I always pick up chocolates and cakes for the children if I venture that way. The restaurant has not made any noticeable changes in terms of serving or decor.  They earlier provided silver cutlery. It used to make me feel royal despite knowing that it was coated silver. Melamine has replaced the silver soup bowls and spoons. I felt sad. I would not have minded all white ceramic bowls but white and maroon melamine crockery?

We ordered minestrone soup and I specifically mentioned I am vegan but got a soup generously garnished with shredded cheese. I cannot fathom this love for cheese where it is not traditionally used! After I pointed out, the bowl was replaced with a tasty hot bowl of actual minestrone soup. Since we were both heading back to work we could not afford a large meal so we settled for garlic naan sans butter/ghee and picked a kumbh harabhara from the menu as it was something I haven’t seen on any other menu.

The food at Gaylord has always been very good and it was no different this time. The kumbh harabhara did not look alluring, in fact.  Anything but that. As a mushroom lover I knew this ought to be good. Loads of green gravy and mushrooms dunked in it has to be heaven, and it was. The mushrooms were juicy, oozing out spicy minty taste with each bite. We did full justice by wiping the dish clean.

I could not get the taste off my mind so while we were driving back home that evening we kept deconstructing the dish. The sea-food lover too loved the mushrooms enough to think back.

Two days later on Saturday, almost an hour after P had left to buy veggies, I thought of replicating the dish from taste and memory, but none of the ingredients were available. I knew P would get irritated if I called so I just let it go. Call it serendipity because a few minutes later P arrived with spinach, coriander, mint and two packets of fresh button mushrooms. He said, “I saw these mushrooms and thought you might want to try out that dish we ate.” I beamed.

I made a spinach gravy spiced with ginger, chillies and garlic. Dunked halved mushrooms but something was missing. Was it mint? I added some mint and it was perfect. But while eating I felt that the gravy was thick and heavy whereas what we had at the restaurant was thinner and much lighter. We had eaten so much and yet had not felt heavy at all.

A few days later I made it again, this time reducing the spinach, adding lots of coriander and a few mint leaves. It was perfect. Same as what we ate. And, it looked anything but alluring. Exactly as it was meant to be. But not good enough to be photographed and not capable of being styled.

Last week I made it again. This time I omitted the spinach, reduced the coriander and cooked the mushrooms till they were just done. I removed them coated with some of the gravy and let the rest of the thin gravy simmer and reduce. Added back the drained mushrooms and it was perfect – on the palate and the plate! Could I share something less then perfect with you, my dears? Nah! Tell me what you think of this version.

The green masala is a staple in Sindhi cuisine according to my one of dearest Sindhi colleague and friend, Bina. I guess Alkawould know more.

Recipe: Kumbh hara bhara ~ Mushrooms in greens
Yield: Serves 3

Button mushrooms, washed well to remove dirt and halved if big in size – 2 packets (About 25-30 small sized)
Fresh, cleaned and picked coriander leaves, packed – 1 cup
Mint leaves, picked, washed and patted dry – 2 sprigs
Green chillies, finely chopped (as per taste) – 2
Garlic, chopped fine – 6 cloves
Ginger, julienne and place at 90 degrees and chop fine – 1″
Red chilli powder (optional) – 1/8th tsp.
Sunflower or olive oil or mustard oil for those who like it – 2 tbsp.


Using a mortar and pestle crush the ginger, garlic and green chillies together lightly. We want the juice but some character retained. Remove the mixture and wash the mortar with a quarter cup of water and set the juice aside to use it in the gravy.

Grind the coriander and mint leaves together till almost coarsely blended. We do not want a fine paste. Do not add much water. 1/4 cup should be enough. Remember that mushrooms sweat a lot of water.

Heat oil. Add the ginger-garlic-green chillies and fry till brown.

Add the coriander-mint blend and residual water from washing the mortar and cook with salt till aromatic and bubbling. At this stage, taste and adjust heat if needed. 1/8th tsp. of red chilli powder makes it perfect for me.

Add the mushrooms and a little more salt. Stir to coat. Cover and cook till the mushrooms are done, about 4 minutes. Do not over cook the mushrooms. Excessive cooking renders mushroooms chewy. Keep taking off the lid and checking in between to see whether the mushrooms are done. They should still have a shine, reduce a little in size but not by half and have some juice left in them.

When they are done you will find that there is still a lot of thin gravy in the vessel. If this happens, remove the mushrooms with a slotted ladle onto a clean vessel. Let the gravy simmer till left with just a quarter cup of green, maddeningly aromatic, liquid.

Pour the green liquid over the mushrooms. Serve with hot Indian flatbreads or with pulav.

The taste of the dish comes from the way mushrooms tend to take in the flavours of the gravy. You could substitute oven baked, pierced baby potatoes or soya nuggets instead of the mushrooms. Anything that is porous enough to absorb the flavours of the gravy will taste good.

Add a pinch of dry mango powder and a pinch of cumin powder if you need some tang. I not much of a masala person so I am pretty happy without any spices.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Ritika

    Loved readin the write up.

  • Jasminder

    Made this today with noodles… Yum, Yum, Yum. 🙂

    • Admin

      Happy about that. 🙂

      • Jasminder

        Wanted to make just the sauce again sans mushrooms, it was a tad watery so added a pinch or two of cornflour to give it some body. It was good but think it lacked the body and flavour that the mushroom juice did the first time – what do you suggest? What would you add if substituting mushrooms with potatoes?

        • Harini Prakash

          This recipe is a light one with a rather thin gravy. I suggest adding of a teaspoon of cashew powder for thickening. Cornflour takes away the texture. I make it with potatoes, and made it with twice with soya nuggets too, but increased the coriander-mint sauce. I don’t add cashew powder. The gravy is meant to only coat the vegetables and not act as a sauce. Hope this helps.

  • Subha

    Love your clicks as always and your style of writing…getting addicted to your posts..I am going to try this very soon..

  • reeta

    Love your pictures Harini…so appealing to the eyes and inviting for the palate…will try this recipe sometime soon!

  • Ahalya

    See! This is the post I was talking about! Meeting husband for lunch on working day! How sweet, I thought… 🙂

    • Harini

      Ah! Thanks! Am a bit of a romantic. 😀

  • Sunshinemom

    Deepti, do let me the turn out. Thanks!

  • Deepti

    Thanks for the recipe! I first tried out Sanjeev kapoor's khumb hara masala, but it was a big flop! i quickly looked for a new mushroom recipe and came across this one. you saved my day!

    Oh btw you I use almost the same gravy/masala for chicken or shrimp as well. It tastes great.

  • Sunshinemom

    Soma, maybe you could when your mom-in-law is around. Just for a day or maybe a lunch! Makes a lot of difference! Regarding the mint, yes. It is very strong by itself but we do not use much in this recipe.

  • Soma

    I wish I could sneak out with A.. it has been so many years and as much as we love the children we dearly miss some alone time together..

    Good for you two. Sometimes we think of babysitters, but dare not. again I don't even know if we could have a nice time if our minds were constantly some place else.

    I never thought of mint and mushroom together you know. They are pretty much on the opposite ends in terms of flavor. It does sound awesome!! Must try.


  • Sunshinemom

    Jaya (sree and sri):)! Nice to have you both visiting bumper to bumper! Staying at home for two weeks brings is de-stressing after all and it shows too in my posts. I usually end up being harried-mom posting hurried-recipes:). I updated and added a link with the gatte ki subzi as well. Did you like the gatte ki subzi in greens, Jayasree?

  • jayasri

    hahaha!, always love reading your stuff!, I enjoyed that first, next is the recipe I have bought a Kg of Mushrooms now I know I can make something new out of it!, and I just read that you have many more mushroom dishes which I love to try out!, thanks for sharing!

  • jayasree

    Loved readin the write up. You are back to your old form – recipes laced with anecdotes. I loved your repeatitive attempts to get the dish right and then blog it here. You are a perfectionist, Harini.

    I remember your gatte ki curry with a similar base (?). I have tried that one.

  • Sunshinemom

    Evolvingtastes, just saw yours and came back mighty impressed! Making your version soon too.

    Bobbisox, thanks! I looked up and found that it is indeed a matter of preference. While some love it with shredded cheese some are happy with a few drops of olive oil floating around. I guess I belong to the latter category! Do let me know how you liked the recipe if you try it:).

  • Bobbisox

    I will definitatly try your mushroom recipe, it sounds great and I don't think there is a bigger mushroom lover then I. I wanted to comment, because you mentioned the gratutious use of cheese in minestrone; that is how it is served in Italy. When my sister was visiting, my sister even asked for cheese and she NEVER asks the wait staff for anything. She brings us cheese everytime she visits us, or used to before some of the regulations changed but her area of Umbria is proud of their cuisine.

  • evolvingtastes

    I make a similar sabjee with eggplant and potatoes, which is brilliant every time (on my blog too). Mine is more of a stir-fry, no liquid gravy, I HAVE TO try the mushroom version. As always, written so well!

  • Nags

    love the term hara bhara 🙂

  • Sunshinemom

    Woohoo! I like the series of 'wows':). I have tried every thing with this gravy, adding methi, putting anything and the flavours work so well. Meri Sindhan saheli ne bhi naa aise pakwan khila khila ke khilayein hain ki I put on maximum weight when she was around!! How we would wait for Teej just so she would get those lolis and other stuff.

  • Sindhirasoi

    Wow…so many Wows…I mean a surprise date with better half…good food, rekindling memories..and wow for P fetching veggies…lucky you;-) and wow at the mind blowing pics…looks classic !
    Wow at the flavorful recipe,and yeah the green ginger garlic coriander base is one of the most favorite curry base for sindhis.
    Me particularly use this one for almost every veggie…cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes (and yes baby potatoes in this curry is my next post),mix veggie curry…anything picks flavor of this mighty green curry,so very well.
    But I kinda avoid grinding Mint for gravy, I prefer tearing the leaves with hand and then stir frying it along with pounded coriander and ginger garlic.And have you ever tried fresh Methi leaves in this type of curry?? Gives awesome flavor…so aromatic!

  • Sunshinemom

    Shaheen, Welcome:), and I am going to repeat that story for the next ten years to the kids!

  • RV

    I have stopped eating mushroom as it smelt weird. But this tempts me to go buy a box of mushroom now. Drool..

  • Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal

    That is a very very new recipe. Actually, never cooked with mushrooms before.

  • Sunshinemom

    Mili, yes I do! My memory ain't that poor, baby! You asked me that by the tea table, right? And am I glad to have served the right dish on your first visit! I have made several mushroom dishes earlier too. You will find them in the recipe index section. And I have many more too. We know they have got be good! Thanks for visiting:).

    Saee, I know. I made that at home once inspired from the one at Gaylord but before I was vegan. Those were times of frequent power cuts in Thane. I had to ultimately bake mine in the pressure cooker and it was amazing! Oh, you! See, you have made me dream of it now! Maybe its for good….maybe I should make it soon.

  • Shaheen

    Lovvee you story! 🙂

  • Saee Koranne-Khandekar

    Oooh, look at that! And Gaylord! They used to make the most divine apple pie!

  • Sunshinemom

    Sweatha, thanks! Yes, it is.

    Rachana, thanks. Glad to have made it enjoyable for you:).

    You are most welcome, Satya! Thanks for visiting.

    Prathibha, would love a feedback if you do. Yes, you should visit Gaylord sometime.

    Jaya, I know! Sometimes, it is all in the name! Thanks for observing the care taken:). I cannot take the paste:)!

  • Mili

    hii sweets, remember me?? we met at the blogger's meet…on juhu…hotel sea pr…i think by nw u get it :P.

    if not i'm the one in the black top n skirt who was luking pretty ( at least i hope i did) n who asked u wt was the diff between being a vegetarian n a vegan!!!

    nyways i simply luvvvvv mushrooms. i'm so gonna try this. thnx for this n hope u fill ur blog with more n more mushroom recepies in the future. chao

  • Jaya Wagle

    Lovely. The kumbh hara bhara makes it sound so exotic instead of mushrooms in green gravy. I love how much thought and trial and error went into getting the recipe just right.
    And you are so right about snatching those moments alone, without the kid.

    I do keep the ginger-garlic-green chili paste in the fridge, but mine is finley ground. I am a chicken when it comes to eating it coarsly ground.

  • Prathibha

    Would try going to that place….loved those light greens coated mushrooms..really look yumm

  • Satya

    i love mushrooms n ur mushroom in green looks divine …thanks for sharing


  • Rachana

    Wow! Mushrooms look so inviting and I enjoyed reading the little write up too 🙂

  • Curry Leaf

    😛 😛 😛 😛 .
    Too delicious it is and perfect.

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