Mushrooms are one of my favourite fungi - sounds yuck?!!:), but that is how they were introduced to me! I like them in any form, soup, gravies, stuffed as I am serving them today or minced as in a quiche!
I grew familiar with the term 'fungus' through school textbooks. Some of the prominent features that are associated with 'fungi', and ingrained in our minds are;
Fungi are 'border-case' organisms - plants, but unlike plants they do not photosynthesize. (First thought - non-veg?!)Fungi are generally found growing on dead, decaying organic matter. (why do they not mention that some are cultivated?)Molds and lichens were focused on so much that fungus automatically pointed to 'fungal infection'!The poor mushroom got introduced as a poisonous organism that feeds like a parasite and grows anywhere. To top everything it is addressed in most languages by non-endearing terms such as toad stool, kukurmutt(Hindi) and naikodai (Tamil) [that which grows where a dog has relieved itself!!], putting off every possible chance of falling in love with this delicious vegetable.Fairy tales we read as little children referred to mushrooms as a place coveted by ugly, evil toads (Bufo can be very cute and grumpy too). We did have cute little red capped mushroom dotted with white on which fairies sat and Big Ears dwelled. Doesn't that make it yummy? Well, it turns out that the white polka dotted one is amongst the poisonous variety but at least they feel good, don't they?
Deesha - the Happy Cook gave another explanation which is something that I have heard from many. In most dishes mushrooms are overcooked and resemble non-vegetarian food!
You have to work yourself to look beyond the above to have a lasting love affair with this tasty vegetable. I love edible mushrooms for so many reasons - they are full of proteins and provide dietary fibre, are no-fat, cook fast, are low in sodium, are high in potassium, look attractive, and because they are so tasty! Doesn't that seem like a fitness mantra? In India mushrooms were not very popular until the mall culture crept in, bringing us imported vegetables and gourmet cooking. Earlier the availability was limited to exclusive outlets, but now I find them even in my local 'Kerala' shop (he is infact a Madrasi but you know how it is - he is branded!). The mushrooms in Mumbai mostly come from colder places like Mahabaleshwar where they are cultivated on a large scale. I have only seen button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) (Reliance Mart has really good ones) and dried oyster mushrooms (Big Bazaar).
Sometime back a friend at work V (at my earlier office), wanted me to bring her stuffed mushrooms as I make pretty often but she has never been there to taste them. I made these stuffed mushrooms (tandoori mushroom) specially for her on my last day there. There was enough for my other friends too, but A would not eat them for reasons already given. V liked them very much and was glad to eat up A's share:)! I am sure she would have liked them spicier with more chilli powder but I cannot bring myself to add much. In my opinion these should be served immediately, hot from the oven while they still retain some firmness. The dish tends to lose flavour and sweats after a while, making it softer. This serves as a very tasty, elegant and yet simple starter and makes for a healthy, light dinner when paired with a hearty soup. Besides you can vary the stuffing to make a new dish each time.
(Stuffed Mushrooms - recreated from memory of a delicious dish I had at a restaurant)
White button mushrooms (fresh, not canned) - 2 packets (about 30)
Onion (chopped fine) - 1/2 cup
Green chillies (minced) - 1
Ginger juice (grate and squeeze) - 1/2 tsp.
Garlic (optional) - 1 clove, grated
Rosemary(fresh) - 1/2 tsp. (I use dried/fresh oregano, rosemary, basil or mint chopped fine)
Salt and chilli powder to taste
Fresh bread crumbs - About 1/2 cup
Cashew cream (soaked and ground cashew) - 2 tsp.
Oil - 1 tsp.
Clean the mushrooms thoroughly and destem them carefully retaining the caps.
Chop the stems very fine. Slit the stem into half vertically. Slit each half into three pieces and then place them together and chop into little bits.
Bharwan Khumbh OR Stuffed Mushrooms - Preparation
Have your green chillies and ginger juice ready. I am not very fond of garlic but sometimes I grate a pod of garlic too. Heat oil, add the onions, minced chillies, ginger juice, garlic and a little salt. Saute a minute or so and chopped mushroom stems. Saute till the mushrooms sweat out all the water and the mixture is dry, add the herb and mix. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile dip a finger in oil/melted butter and baste the caps on the outside. Using your finger ensures that there is hardly any oil. You may omit this altogether to have it completely fat free.
Fill a little of the stuffing into each cap, and top with a drop of the cashew cream. Spread it and seal the hollow and top with some bread crumbs.
Pre-heat oven on grill mode for 10 minutes in the highest temperature. Grill the mushrooms till the crumbs turn a light brown, or the cheese melts, and the mushrooms start developing streaks of brown. The first batch takes about 5-10minutes, and the others will be done much faster.
You do not require anything to serve them with if you are a die-hard shroom fan like me but you could have them with vegan tandoori marinade or green mint chutney.
Bharwan Khumbh OR Stuffed Mushrooms - Serve and enjoy!
Earlier I used to add grated cheese for my family in place of the cashew cream, but they told me that the cheese makes no difference, and that the cashew cream tastes the same!
P and I had these to go with some wine, and they pair very well!
If you would like to serve these as starters at a get-together, you could do the stuffing an hour before you need them. Grill them just as your guests arrive, and they will be ready in no time at all.
Pair with a soup for a light dinner.
Realizing that these are tapas which essentially mean starters and seeing that the June theme of WTISIM has been extended upto the end of July, I am sending these tasty appetizers to Andrew of Spittoon Extra.
I am also sending the top picture to DMBLGIT, July 2009 hosted by Jeanne of Cooksister.