Veganmofo | Day 13
Mushrooms are not native Indian vegetables. They were introduced in 1886, and the first recorded systematic cultivation happened only in 1961 at Solan in Himachal Pradesh. Because of some really sad tales associated with the growing of mushrooms, they were shunned in South Indian cooking for a very long time. Many of my friends even now do not consume mushrooms as they are regarded as fungi, and not vegetables. When it comes to mushroooms, I turn weak. I have many excuses when I am told they look ‘meaty’. Today I found on google books search fresh reasons. According to the book, ‘mushroom cultivation in India’ by B.C. Suman, and V.P. Sharma, mushrooms are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals, while poor in fat and carbohydrate. Now you tell me – isn’t that reason enough?!
Have I said this before? Mr.P is a very good cook, though he rarely cooks. He has a fine sense of balance, and a keen sense of understanding of spices. Almost always, he nails dishes at first attempt. I am not exaggerating! How does one explain the perfectly round rotis he rolled when I showed him how to make them for the first time, or that one time when he made a dish from Tongue Ticklers, and the kids agreed it was better than mine? I hope he reads this and gets the hint. I really could do with Saturday breaks from cooking more often.
Recipe: Matar khumb | Dhingri matar | Mushroom and peas curry
Yield : Serves 4 persons
Button mushrooms – 2 packets
Fresh green peas – 1 cup
Tomatoes – 3, medium sized, blanch and puree
Onions – 1, big onion, chopped fine
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp.
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp.
Garlic – 6 pods
Ginger – 1/2 square inch (sounds like P’s recipe now? :D)
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp.
Coriander powder – 1/4 tsp.
Oil – 4 tsp. (This too indicates P!)
Coriander leaves with stalks, chopped – To garnish
Blanch tomatoes. Peel, cool and puree. Reserve the blanching liquid, and add peas to this. Do not cover.
Lightly crush garlic cloves with a rolling pin and peel off the skin .Chop roughly and place in the mortar. Similarly peel and chop ginger and throw into the mortar. Crush well forming a paste.
Heat oil. When hot, season with mustard, followed by ginger-garlic paste. When golden, add onions and saute till brown.
Add red chilli, coriander and turmeric powders. Add drained green peas and saute for half a minute on high flame. Add halved mushrooms, and saute for two minutes.
Add tomato puree, and simmer, covered, till the mushrooms are cooked. About 2 minutes. Adjust salt.
Garnish with coriander.
Serve with bread or rice.
According to Aisha, “I never knew mushrooms were shunned in South Indian cooking. My Grandma used to make really good mushroom curry and we would go pick/dig them up ourselves. She said the right time to dig out mushrooms (Alambo in Konkani) was soon after the heavy downpour/storm had passed during the Monsoon months. She was right, we never came back empty handed. We didn’t have to go very far, just behind the house, up the hill. They weren’t big either, no bigger than the shirt buttons.”
Could be that I am wrong, and it was shunned only by the Brahmin community in South-India. Did your family cook mushrooms too?