Matar khumb, dhingri matar – Mushroom and peas curry

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?


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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  • ujwal

    The GSB community in South India has been using mushrooms (Alambe in konkani) for quite some time. This kind of mushrooms is available only during rainy season followed by thunder. This tastes quite different from the kind available in market and there are lot of traditional dishes made with this. But as you said many of my South Indians dont eat mushrooms even now. I love mushrooms and if combined with green peas its a match made in heaven. Looks so delicious

  • Laura

    Could you tell me the weight or approximate quantity of mushrooms in a “packet”? Where I shop, mushrooms are sold loose. Thanks, this looks really delicious.

    • Harini

      We get them in packets here. I prefer loose though. We conserve on plastic that way. One packet has about 200g. I will check up for sure tomorrow, and you can find a comment if I am wrong. Thanks. I will pass on that to the husband. 🙂

  • Happy Cook / Finla

    When we were young we never saw mushrooms in the shops, it is after comming ehre i started eating mushroom. Hans and I love mushrooms but Shyama don’t even touch it though, curry looks so good.

    • Harini

      I remember those days too. I tasted it only in restaurants. Since the last decade everything is easily available and mushroom farms have come up in many places here. My son does not like mushrooms much either. Prakash will be happy so see the appreciation! Thank you. 🙂

  • GiGi

    ‘shrooms can be dangerously good. I’ve actually gone mushrooming twice, both times with crazy scientists who knew what athey were doing. I didn’t like the mushrooms we picked the second time. Way too pungent and meaty.
    yay for a day off in the kitch. and a hoorah for a beautiful meal from the hubs:)

    • Harini

      I have never had such adventures! The only shrooms I know are the store bought ones, and the others I have seen are poisonous. I will tell Mr.P that his cooking has been considered beautiful. He was surprised I ‘showcased’ it.

  • Anjali

    Pass me a crusty bread to dunkin 🙂

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