Monday, 11 May 2009

Mughal mushroom curry

I've been feeling the need for more meatless food these days for some virtuous reasons and one not so virtuous one: my freezer's already full of yummy stuff being saved for a rainy day (or at least a lazy evening).

There is another practical reason for going veggie at least part of the week and that is that it usually cuts down your cooking time. You can't beat that!

From Najmieh Batmanglij's Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey, this recipe is a relatively quick weeknight fix. It features an unusual apple, sultana and nut topping. I've read that the use of fruit and nuts in savory dishes is characteristic of Mughal cuisine. It also chimes in nicely with a similar theme in Persian cuisine, which might explain why this recipe caught the eye of Najmieh khanom.

To cook with yogurt, you often need to stabilize it first to avoid splitting. Mixing in cornflour, as in this recipe, is just one method. I had no trouble with splitting, even when reheating the dish in the microwave the next day.

I left out the garam masala and chillies out of respect for the Young Man's delicate palate. Next time, I think I might add a little turmeric, say 1/4-1/2 tsp, to give it a nice golden colour.

Mughal mushroom curry

4 tbsp vegetable oil, butter or ghee
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 green apple, peeled and sliced
2 small onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tsp coriander seeds
2.5 cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 bay leaf
2 red chillies, seeded and sliced, or to taste
450 g assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped celery
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp hot curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1 large tomato, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
2 tsp cornflour [cornstarch]

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander [cilantro] to garnish (optional)

1 In a wok or deep-sided frying pan, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat, until very hot. Add the almonds, raisins and apples, and stir-fry for 20 sec. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2 Heat the remaining oil in the same wok, until very hot. Add the garlic, coriander seeds, ginger, bay leaf and chillies and stir-fry for 1 min. Add the mushrooms and celery, and cook for 5 min. Add the salt, pepper, curry powder, garam masala and tomato. Cover and cook over very low heat for 10 min.

3 Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine yogurt and cornflour. Beat, in one direction, for 5 min.

4 Just before serving, discard the bay leaf and gradually add the yogurt mixture to the wok over very low heat, stirring constantly to prevent curdling.

5 Adjust seasoning to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the almond mixture from step 1, and coriander, and serve hot with rice, pasta or couscous


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