Kathy Gori with a dish that can fool anyone that it’s actually not Meatless Monday.
By Kathy Gori
One of my favorite scenes, in one of my favorite movies, LA Confidential involves the phrase “hookers cut to look like movie stars.” A gem of a scene, it involves earnest Guy Pearce in the mother of all mistaken identity messes with the real Lana Turner. He thought he couldn’t be fooled. He was.
I , on the other hand have always been fascinated by one food that looks like another. I am a sucker for such things. So when I ran across an Indian recipe that called for mushrooms to be cooked like chicken, I was so there. I couldn’t wait to give it a try. A Meatless Monday dish is always a hit around our house, and since fresh spring mushrooms were on sale at $1.99 a pound, it was to economical to resist.
About mushrooms and Indian food, even though they may not seem to be a natural fit, they are. Indian recipe collections are filled with mushroom dishes of all heats and varities from the various regions of the subcontinent. This particular recipe comes from Sanjeev Kapoor one of the most celebrated Indian chefs, and his new book How To Cook Indian.
This is an easy recipe that uses a paste of spices to quickly cook ordinary white mushrooms.
Once the paste is assembled, the mushrooms can be cooked in a just a few minutes. It makes a great fast side dish alongside well… real chicken, or you can eat it as we did, accompanied by a couple of tasty vegetarian side dishes. It also seems made for basmati rice though I haven’t tried it that way yet, but believe me I’m going to. Soon. And often! Here’s my adaptation of this dish.
- 1 lb of white mushrooms quartered
- 8 whole cloves
- ½ tsp of fennel seed
- 1½ Tbs of coriander seed
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 pieces of star anise
- ¼ tsp of mace
- 4 dried red chilies broken into pieces
- ¼ tsp of ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp of cumin seed
- 1 or 2 large shallots
- 3 red onions
- 2 Tbs of vegetable oil
- 1 Tbs of white poppy seeds
- 1½ tsp of salt
- 1 Tbs of tamarind pulp (or lemon juice)
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 1 cup grated dried unsweetened coconut
- Dry roast the cloves, cumin seed, coriander seed, star anise, chilies, mace, peppercorns, fennel seed and poppy seeds in a small skillet.
- When the spices start to get fragrant, toss in coconut and toast that too until it starts to brown.
- Take it off the stove and let the spices cool.
- Put the spices and coconut in a small blender or food processor with 2 chopped shallots and 1 cup of water.
- Blend it until it's a smooth paste.
- Set it aside.
- In a skillet or kadhai heat 2 Tbs of vegetable oil.
- When the oil is hot add 3 chopped red onions.
- Saute them until they brown.
- Add in the quartered mushrooms and salt, stir well.
- Add in the spice paste mix well.
- Add ½ cup of water and the tamarind pulp or lemon juice.
- Simmer everything together for about 5 minutes or so until the mushrooms are cooked through.
- Sprinkle a bit of chopped fresh cilantro over the top and serve.