Monday, 29 March 2010

Mushroom Masala

I find mushrooms so interesting for many many reasons. Firstly, some people even like my mother-in-law who is a Nutritionist refuse to take mushroom due to the stigma that is not quite a plant food. Secondly because it is quite deceptive. If you are one of those sceptical about mushrooms, here is some information I gathered that may help you make up your mind. Mushrooms are reproductive parts of a fungi. They come in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes. While some mushrooms add flavour to the dish some tend to take the flavour of the dish (like tofu if I could say, wherein it seeps the flavours from the dish). Mushrooms are super healthy food but just watch out as some mushrooms could even kill us and that is why I said they are deceptive. Mushroom picking is a hobby and also a means to make some money for several people in this country. My husband and I once went with a friend of ours, not in the very best season though but we did manage to pick some. Our friend was specifically looking for shitake mushrooms which are suppose to be delicious and expensive. Although I have no stigma about mushrooms, I was always wary of eating them especially in India. Even after coming to UK, I did not take mushrooms throughout my pregnancy for fear of it being poisonous. A programme on the television once showed how mushrooms we buy in the supermarket are grown in artificial environment that is controlled. Hence only the particular type of mushroom being ‘cultivated’ is sold and contamination with poisonous mushrooms is near to impossible. Silly me, should have known that before as I could have been more healthy during pregnancy!
The goodness of mushrooms is plenty. As most of the weight of mushroom is water and fibre, it is almost like free food and very good for weight conscious diet. They are said to provide relief from cholesterol, breast cancer, prostate cancer. It seems the lean protein in mushrooms help burn cholesterol when digested. I learned that they also contain natural insulin and enzymes that help break down of sugar.
With all the goodness packed, I was set to make this wonderful mushroom masala for dinner. I did get closed cup mushrooms from Tesco and did not go picking them myself!
1 packet of mushrooms(typically 250gms)
1 big red onion sliced
1 cup sliced green pepper(capsicum)
1 cup tomato puree
Pinch of turmeric powder
Cooking oil
Salt to taste
To make a paste:
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
1 small onion chopped
1 piece of cinnamon stick
2 cloves
3 cloves of garlic
1 small piece of ginger
2 tablespoon fresh grated coconut or coconut powder
2-3 dry red chillies
In a deep dish or kadai combine all ingredients required for the paste and fry in about 1 teaspoon oil. Allow to cool and grind to paste. If you are using coconut powder, you do not have to fry it. The heat from peppercorns goes very well with mushrooms so you could adjust the number or avoid red chillies accordingly. In the deep dish, add 2 teaspoons oil and fry the onions and green peppers. Once they are almost cooked, add tomato puree (I usually just grind the tomatoes in a food processor and use it) and allow it to cook and come out pulpy. Now add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft. As I said earlier, mushrooms contain lot of water and hence do not add extra water until the mushrooms are done as you may be making the dish runny. Add the ground paste and salt and cook until raw smell goes and nice aroma comes. Enjoy this dish with brown rice, plain rice, chappatis or naans.

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