Mushroom chettinad for the winter nights

Finally we have come to Pacific time zone and that’s how we started the new year. Only for the past ten days we have got back to our routines and sleeping schedules. Little S is growing naughtier day by day and he wants to be taken out all the time of the day and that makes our visit to the local library almost 2-3 hours every other day. He now walks very well and tries to run when I catch him swallow some minute stuffs on the floor. He finds sputtered lentils, torn curry leaf, missed out onion peels on the floor and grabs them and straight it goes inside his mouth. God only knows how is it visible for him and not for me?
We started with the weekly toddler session in library and my son seems to love it. He is very social and smiles and waves at every stranger he spots on the way.  When the instructor dances, he runs straight towards her and stands right infront of her, holds his hands on the waist and shakes his bum left-right-left-right and then turns around to see whether I approve of his dance. I smile back as an answer.
Apart from my daily fun times with little S, weather is California is running between mid 30s to 60s. It’s cold for few days. then colder during some nights and coldest for another few days. It’s just fluctuating and there has been no rain. It generally rains cats and dogs around this season but this year its pretty dry. For cold winter nights, I prefer having spicy food for dinner. I love the kick of peppers/jalapeno/ red chillies and it definitely clears your sinuses. Mushroom has low calorie, about 20 calories for 3oz and its packet read “100% vitamin D for strong bones”, there you go – one more reason to eat them. Mushrooms are included in phase 1 of South beach diet. With just 1 tablespoon of oil and tons of mushroom (2x 8oz packet) , I ended up making a huge pot of delicious gravy that I stored and used for two days.
Every time I do my grocery shopping, I will have hundred of ideas on how to use them and finally when the day comes to cook something with that, I stumble. I will google with questions like “What different gravy to make with mushroom?”, “What new curry with mushrooms?”, “Different South Indian spicy mushroom curry?”, “How to use finish my box of mushrooms?” . With similar mindset today, I spent some time in google and found this recipe.For dinner last night, I made a spicy chettinad curry with mushroom and served it with store bought parathas. Since I was away for the first 4 weeks, my husband had bought frozen parathas for himself and since its oily and made with all purpose flour, I wanted to get rid of them quickly, hence ended up serving it. Don’t ever use them, instead make your own or buy whole wheat parathas. I prefer to eat this juicy gravy with whole wheat chapatis/rotis.

I love curry leaves. Its addition to any dish takes to the next level. Some people added it along with tomatoes but I prefer to add it as the first thing that goes in to the hot oil. The smell of fried curry leaves reminds me of my achi, its her smell and that makes me feel her presence in my kitchen. The meaty mushroom, the spicy peppercorns and sweet onions complemented so well with each other. The gravy was super yummy and the blend of cummin seeds, garlic and peppercorns made it truly exotic. It looked like Madurai in my plate and even my little one tasted a bit and seems to come back for more.
Sanjay Thumma (with little modifications I made)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 10-12 curry leaves – torn (optional)
  • 1 large onion – chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger – paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic – paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilly powder (spicy) – less or more as per your taste
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes – chopped
  • 2 x 8oz packet mushroom – chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
In the mortar and pestle: 
  • 3 garlic – whole
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pepper corns
For garnish:
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  1. Heat oil in a large cooking pan. Once the oil sizzles, add curry leaves and let it bath in the hot oil for 30-45 seconds. Then add the onions and little salt (about 2 pinches), stir and cover over medium low flame. Let the onions sweat and brown, approximately 8-10 minutes. After 5 minutes, just check and stir.
  2. Sprinkle turmeric, chilli and coriander powder and saute till the raw smell disappears, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they turn mushy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Throw in the mushrooms and stir to combine and cook covered for 15-20 minutes. Add garam masala and mix well.
  3. Pound the whole garlic, cummin seeds and pepper corns to a paste in a mortar pestle. Add butter to a saucepan and melt it. Once they bubble add the above paste and saute for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the buttery spice mix to the mushroom gravy and stir to combine. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
  1. Don’t add any water to the gravy as the mushroom will leave out its moisture.
  2. Since I wanted to avoid the butter, I dry roasted the garlic-cummin-peppercorn paste.
  3. Ideal for dieters (South beach or everything else)

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