Kummu (Mushroom) Curry by Shalini Nanda

A  simple curry that allows the flavour of wild mushrooms to shine through.

  • 1/2 kg mushrooms, cleaned and sliced ( oyster mushrooms and crimini work well here )
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 3 – 4 green chillis ,slit
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • Salt to taste

Grind together to a smooth paste:

  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • ½ tsp cumin, lightly roasted and powdered

Heat the oil in a deep pan, kadhai or wok and put in the mustard. When it sputters, add the onions and green chillis. Fry until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms along with the remaining spices. Sauté briefly, then add one cup of hot water and salt to taste. Simmer for five minutes, then add the ground coconut and cumin. Cook on low for two more minutes. Remove from heat and add lime juice.

If you don’t have wild mushrooms, here are a couple of ways to make even dull supermarket mushrooms take a walk on the wild side.

  • Drying mushrooms intensifies their flavour and can be done quite easily at home. A friend remembers her grandmother stringing mushrooms on lengths of twine and hanging them to dry above the wood stove in her kitchen in rural Coorg. They had the added cachet of being smoked too!Slice button mushrooms thinly and separate oyster mushrooms into 1 – 2” clumps. Dry in the oven on very low heat or in the direct sun until they are darkened,shriveled and leathery. Store in airtight containers. Soak them in hot water to rehydrate. Use these dried mushrooms and their soaking liquid to make your curry and see if it doesn’t taste just that much better.
  • Chutta kummu (roasted mushrooms)
  • A favorite snack of my maternal grandfather, a lucky treat for any child who happened to be hanging about him at the right time!There were times when the land below the  hedgerows in the field behind my grandparents’ home would turn white with a carpet of mostly edible mushrooms. One of my fondest memories is of scrambling up the muddy slope to gather them in the company of a young maid who knew which ones were safe to pick. The early morning chill and soaking grass just whetted the appetite for Akki ottis and kummu curry which were certainly on the menu on those days!This is the most delicious way I know of preparing a freshly picked, wild mushroom.Slice nethale kummu or oyster mushrooms into large pieces. Have ready some lime wedges and  a little freshly roasted and coarsely ground chilli powder with a little salt mixed in. A not too hot variety of chilli like byadgi would be good. Pick up the pieces of mushroom with tongs and  roast very briefly on hot coals or an open flame. Working fast, singe all the pieces and sprinkle over quickly with a little chilli powder, salt and a good squeeze of lime. Eat immediately. Mop up any juices with a slice of bread or akki otti.

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