Mushroom Matar Masala / Mushroom and Green Peas Curry

Indian food is synonymous with “curry” in the western world. Rightly so, we love our curries and we can never be overwhelmed with the abundance of spices in any Indian kitchen. Mushroom Matar Masala is a semi-dry curry, where some lovely mushrooms and green peas are lathered in the right amount of spices.

My previous mushroom recipe, Goan Mushroom Xacuti recipe, had a bunch of spices completely different from the ones I have used in this recipe. The green peas, albeit frozen, give a dash of freshness to the curry. And I have added some fresh fenugreek leaves, another ingredient I have grown too fond of lately.

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Mushroom Matar Masala
Mushroom Matar Masala

Mushrooms are high in protein and unbelievably low in calories. Fenugreek has a stream of health benefits as well. This curry does not require any dairy additives. All in all, this is a low-calorie, vegan recipe packed with ample nutritive value, and highly suitable for diabetics and weight-watchers.

The mushroom matar masala, along with some hot chapati (Indian flatbread), was our Sunday lunch, which got gobbled down in a jiffy, in contrast to the usual lazy Sunday lunches. And food was ready before time, so I would not credit the hunger pangs. The award goes to…… Oh Modesty where are thou!! 😉

Mushroom Matar Masala
Mushroom Matar Masala

What to prepare before you get cooking

  • I used button mushrooms, and these were really tiny. So I just quartered them. Clean and cut the mushrooms to get bite-size pieces as per the size of mushrooms available.
  • For the spices, one of them is crushed coriander. If you have powder, go ahead and use it. But freshly crushed coriander seeds weave a certain flavour magic.
  • Fenugreek leaves are optional. Either use dried ones aka kasuri methi or replace with coriander leaves. But try to add it, as it bumps up the taste as well as the nutrition.
Wipe mushrooms with a wet towel instead of running under water to prevent them from going soggy. Click To Tweet

MUSHROOM MATAR MASALA / MUSHROOM AND GREEN PEAS CURRY

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup of green peas
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger
  • 1 large or 2 medium sized tomatoes, finely diced
  • 2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp oil for cooking
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 slit green chili
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh fenugreek leaves OR 1 tbsp kasuri methi
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
Mushroom Matar Masala
Mushroom Matar Masala

Method

  • Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds.
  • Once the cumin crackles, add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
  • Add in the onion, ginger and green chilli. Add a bit of salt and mix well. Cover and let the onion cook till soft.
  • Add the tomatoes and mash them with the spatula. Add tiny bit salt, to hasten the cooking.
  • Cook covered, whilst checking intermittently, till the oil starts releasing from the sides.
  • Then add the spices; turmeric, crushed coriander, red chili powder and the garam masala. Mix well.
  • Add in the green peas and splash of water. Cover and cook. If using fresh peas, give it 10 minutes. For frozen peas, 5 minutes is adequate.
  • Add the mushrooms next and coat well in the masala. You might need to add a little more water.
  • Stir in the fenugreek leaves at this point and saute for a while.
  • Cover and cook until everything comes together. It will take about 5-7 minutes, as mushrooms and peas cook quite quickly.
  • Lastly, stir in the lemon juice. Adjust salt to your preference.
  • Since I used fresh fenugreek, I left out the coriander for garnish. It is a personal choice to use coriander leaves in this recipe and you may go ahead if you fancy.
  • Serve hot with chapati or any Indian flatbread.

 

Variations

  • Replace mushrooms with parboiled potato.
  • Replace green peas with boiled or canned chickpeas.

Want to try more simple Indian vegan preparations? Check out Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry

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If you try this recipe tag #smitasfoodcharm on Instagram and to follow me click here @smitasfoodcharm

 

 

Mushroom Xacuti/ Goan Mushroom Curry

Till about a couple years ago, I did not fancy mushrooms; but then the affair started and now I can proudly say, “I’m in love.” Mushrooms are loaded with protein and Vitamin D with minimal calories. So for a health buff like me, it is one helluva ingredient.

I usually stir-fry them with some butter and garlic or just add to noodles or Mexican chili to bump up the nutrition. But this time, I decided to hero this little c(h)ap! And what better way than some spicy Indian curry, in fact, even closer to home with this traditional Goan preparation, Xacuti. (pronounced as Shaa-go-tee.)

Mushroom Xacuti
Mushroom Xacuti

I have used white button mushrooms here, but you can go ahead and use whichever edible (obviously!) mushrooms you have on hand. And when I say spicy, that’s what it is – A blast of various spices, each imparting its own unique flavour and aroma. So let’s get started..

Ingredients

  • 250 gm, button mushrooms, diced to bite-size pieces
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 small tomato, diced
  • 2-3 tsp oil
  • 1-2 bay leaf
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • salt, to taste
  • coriander, for garnishing
  • juice of lemon, as required

To be ground together

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 black peppercorns
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 2-3 small pieces of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 mace
  • 4 dry red chilli
  • 1 small onion, roughly sliced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small piece ginger
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 1/3 cup dry or wet shredded coconut
The best part of mushrooms is, absorbing whatever flavours u throw it into! Click To Tweet

Method

  • In a pan, add the spices to be ground together and dry roast it together. Once fragrant, transfer to a blender. (See note below)
  • Roast the onion till slightly browned. Likewise for the coconut. Slightly roast the garlic.
  • Blend all these along with other ingredients to be ground together, with some water, to a paste.
  • In a kadhai~, add the oil. Once heated, add the bay leaf.
Mushroom Xacuti
Mushroom Xacuti
  • Then saute the onion till slightly pink.
  • Next add the tomato and cook till mushy. Add a pinch of ground turmeric and salt.
  • Now add the ground paste and mix together till oil starts separating from the sides.
  • Throw in the chopped mushrooms and coat well with the masala. Add 1 cup of water and check the salt.
  • Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add more water if needed to adjust the consistency.
  • Once off the heat, add the lemon juice and garnish with coriander.
  • Enjoy this sizzling xacuti with bread, chapati*, bhakri* or steamed rice.

Note : For dry roasting spices, pan should always be on medium heat. Add the spices in small batches, never over-crowding the pan. Keep stirring, you must not leave it unattended at any time. Roast for not more than 1 minute. IF it goes black, it implies that the spices have burnt and will have to be discarded (sigh!) Otherwise the recipe will turn bitter.

~round, thick-bottomed, wide-mouthed vessel that is generally used in Indian cooking

*Indian flat-breads made with wheat/rice/millet flour

Variation

  • Replace mushrooms with chicken or red meat. This recipe is originally for Chicken Xacuti but vegetarian version uses mushroom.

 

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Mushroom Xacuti
Mushroom Xacuti

 

Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry

Bhindi (Okra) is a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine, which is prepared in hundreds of ways. Probably each state in India has a different style of cooking bhindi. Sometimes as a dry preparation just stir-fried or in a yogurt based gravy or an onion-tomato gravy. It can also be marinated in some spices and semolina and pan-fried or just added in sambar or fish curry.

Bhindi ki Sabzi
Bhindi ki Sabzi with Phulkas

Okra is my husband’s favourite veggie. In early courtship period, when I was all set to impress him, bhindi was what I planned to cook. Little did I know that even though it tastes so good, preparing it can be a messy and frustrating ordeal. The insides of an okra contain a slimy, gooey substance which leaves its presence on your hands, on the knife, chopping board, just about everywhere. Everyone who has cooked okra has definitely been there.

Are you wondering how to enjoy okra sans the muck? It’s your lucky day for I have outlined tips right from buying good bhindi to preparing as well as cooking without the sticky goo coming in your way!

Bhindi ki Sabzi
Bhindi ki Sabzi

TIPS FOR SELECTING OKRA AT THE GROCERS

  • Did you know okra is called Ladies’ finger? There is a pretty good logic behind this. An okra should be slender and delicate like a lady’s finger. Such okras cook well and taste better. Hence select the slender, delicate ones (don’t go around comparing them with your fingers though!! 😀 )
  • The pointed end should be flexible and bend easily. If it is tough, that okra won’t cook well. (Just bend slightly to check, not necessarily break it.)
  • As with any other produce, the surface should be free of dark spots, blemishes or bruises.
Okra is called Lady's finger because it should be slender & delicate like a Lady's finger! Click To Tweet

HOW TO CLEAN AND PREPARE OKRA

bhindi

  • Okra stays in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Just wrap in a plastic bag.
  • When you wish to cook, wash in cold water and pat dry. Drying the okra well is a very important step.
  • Cut off the pointed end and the remaining stalk.
  • Okra can be cut in rounds or lengthwise. While cutting rounds, I prefer using a sharp paring knife in a palm-grip just so that I don’t need the chopping board!
  • Wash the knife and board immediately as once the slimy substance dries, it is tougher to clean off.

There are many fancy styles to cook bhindi. But my favourite is this simple stir-fry with hot phulkas (thin whole wheat rotis.) So lets get started..

Bhindi ki Sabzi
Bhindi ki Sabzi

BHINDI KI SABZI / OKRA STIR-FRY

Ingredients

  • 250 gm okra (bhindi)
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • A pinch of asafoetida (found in Indian grocery; can be left out)
  • 2 green chili, slit in half
  • 2 tbsp dried mango powder (amchoor)
  • Pinch of ground turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil

Method

  • In a wok, heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Then add the asafoetida and curry leaves and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add the onion and saute well. Fry the onion till it is golden. Meanwhile. add the green chili
  • Once the onion is golden, it is time for okra. Mix it well with the onion and keep sautéing.

Now comes the tricky part! 

Okra will start releasing gooey threads which seem to increase as you go on stirring. Read on to know how to tackle this menace!

  1. No water – Come what may, DO NOT ADD WATER!!
  2. Not adding salt yet – Salt causes release of moisture and that’s the last thing we wish for
  3. Sour / tangy agent – Sour agents counter the stringiness of the okra. Once the threads reduce, the okra can fry well. Examples are lemon/lime juice, tomato, yogurt, tamarind, kokum, amchoor. In this recipe, I am using amchoor (dry mango powder)
  • Keep stir-frying the okra. I am assuming you have added the sour agent, amchoor, in this case. Add the turmeric as well.
  • Once okra seems to be cooked well, season with salt.

Serve this bhindi ki sabzi with some hot Indian flat bread. We prefer the thin phulkas made of whole wheat flour as it goes perfectly with this modest okra stir-fry.

Do you prepare okra? Do you like it? Do you have a favourite preparation? Also, if you would like to read more okra recipes do let me know in the comments below.

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Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry
Bhindi ki Sabzi / Okra Stir-Fry

Low-Calorie Butter Chicken / Murgh Makhani

If there was a poll, “Which recipe do you associate with India?”, (to non-Indians, of course) the top answer would surely be Butter Chicken! Without doubt, it is the most popular chicken recipe from India.

Also called Murgh (chicken) Makhani (butter), it has smokey pieces of succulent chicken lathered in a rich, aromatic gravy. The gravy is mild and not-so-spicy and that’s why it is much enjoyed by people all over the world.

As the name goes, there is butter, lots of it! And some heavy cream to add the richness to the gravy. Hence it may crease your dietitian’s forehead. But you love it nevertheless, except the calories that come uninvited. But hey! You have reached the right place as today I am sharing with you my low-calorie, low-fat version.

Can you guess the secret ingredient for this no-guilt indulgence.

Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken

I make chicken tikkas first. Tikkas are nothing but marinated chicken pieces that are grilled to give them an alluring, smokey flavor and look. Next, is the super silky gravy in which the tikkas are rolled in. The last and the best thing left to do roll up your sleeves and lose yourself in the world of Murgh Makhani!!

This tasty gravy dish is usually served with roti or naan or even goes well with a bowl of steaming hot Basmati rice. Hopefully by now I have got your taste-buds charged up, so lets get cooking!

Butter Chicken with Naan and tikka
Butter Chicken with Naan and tikka
Butter Chicken with Tikka
Butter Chicken with Tikka

BUTTER CHICKEN / MURGH MAKHANI

Serves 2 really hungry persons

Ingredients:

  • 500 gram diced boneless chicken
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 ” piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • Whole spices – 2 cloves, small piece cinnamon, 2 green cardamom pods, all slightly crushed together
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • A pinch of ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder (adjust as per taste)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (Kasuri methi) – found at your local Indian grocer
  • 1/3 cup thick yogurt (I prefer the light Greek yoghurt)
  • 1/4 cup light cooking cream (can be omited)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tsp cooking oil + Oil for grilling tikkas, if required
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander for garnish

For the marinade

  • 3-4 tbsp thick yogurt
  • 1 tsp each of ginger and garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1-2 tsp sumac* (see note below)

Method

  • Prepare the marinade: Whisk the yogurt until smooth and add the ingredients under marinade. Coat the chicken pieces in the marinade. Best is, if you can leave it overnight to soak up all the flavours. Also, the lemon juice and yogurt tenderise the meat. If not, 4 hours is good enough or even 2 hours could do the trick.

NOTE: Sumac is a Middle-Eastern spice that has a dark red colour and a mild tangy taste. I use it for its colour in these tikkas. Always better using a spice than food colour, isn’t it? It can be left out if you cannot get your hands on it.

  • Grilling the chicken: Skewer the pieces and grill it either in the oven or BBQ. I just used a cast iron pan.
Chicken Tikka
Chicken Tikka
  • In another pan, take the butter and oil. The oil prevents the butter from burning. Saute the onion, ginger and garlic until fragrant.
  • Add the whole spices and add the tomato paste soon thereafter. Keep stirring throughout to prevent it from sticking or burning.
  • While continuously mixing, add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder, and kasuri methi. Keep stirring till oil separates from the sides. If it is getting dry, splash some water.
  • Blend together the yogurt and cream and add slowly. All the while keep mixing to prevent the yogurt from splitting. You may completely omit the cream as the yogurt does the trick here. (Yes! U guessed it!)
  • Adjust the seasonings and then add the tikkas. Smear the gravy all over the pieces. Add some water if the gravy is very thick. (Take care not to add too much though.)
  • Lastly, garnish with the lovely coriander and a dash of the cream.

Variations:

  • Make it vegetarian by replacing chicken with Paneer – Indian cottage cheese.

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Low Calorie Butter Chicken
Low Calorie Butter Chicken

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Keema Mutter/ Mince with Green Peas

Keema Mutter is one of the many delicacies that the Persians bought to India. Though this may not be like the one you would find in the Irani cafes of Mumbai, it is nevertheless full of delicious flavours. I have added coconut and slightly varied it to suit my Goan palate. Try my version of this aromatic Keema Mutter and I bet you will be licking your fingers!

 

I generally make a big batch as it freezes well. You may want to reduce the quantity. Also I have 4 recipes to use those leftovers, which are lovely starters or a meal by itself.

I have used turkey mince here. But go ahead and use meat of your choice (cooking times will vary). And if you are a vegetarian, you may use tofu instead. (Do not come to kill me if that flops though)

This recipe can easily feed 5-6 persons.

Ingredients:

  • Turkey mince – 500 gram
  • Onions – 2 medium sized, finely chopped
  • Green peas – 1/2 cup
  • Whole spices – 2 black peppercorns, 1 small stick cinnamon, 2 green cardamom, 1 bay leaf, 3-4 cloves
  • To be ground to a paste – a handful of coriander leaves and mint leaves, 1/2 onion, 1/4 cup grated coconut, 5-6 garlic cloves, small piece ginger, 2 black peppercorns, 2 cloves, 1 star anise
  • Tomato – 1, diced
  • Oil – 1 tbsp for roasting the spices and 1-2 tbsp for cooking
  • Chopped coriander and onion for garnish
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder (I use Kashmiri chilli powder) – 1-2 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1-2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Optional – Boiled potato cubes

Method:

  • Heat the 1 tbsp oil a pan, and add the ingredients to be ground together, except for the herbs and ginger. (Start with the onion and then the spices so that the spices do not burn.) Roast these on low heat till the aroma of the spices fill your kitchen. (I sneeze, do you?) Take care not to burn it.IMG_20160717_195804
  • Once it cools, grind it along with the herbs, ginger and little water to a paste.
  • Now heat the remaining oil and spices. Add the chopped onion and saute well. Add salt and sweat the onions.
  • Then add the tomato and keep stirring till it gets mushed-up
  • Next add the ground paste and again saute well.
  • Stir in the turmeric, chilli and garam masala.
  • Add the mince and combine.
  • You may add a little water if necessary. The mince will leave water so take care not to add too much liquid.
  • Cover and cook. Add the green peas as well. If using frozen, add them once the mince is half cooked.
  • Let it cook covered for 10-12 minutes or until meat changes to a whitish colour. (At this point, you may add the boiled potatoes.)
  • Check the seasonings and add the fresh lemon juice. Stir well.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and onion. Serve this hot keema mutter with pao (bun) or bread of your choice
Keema Mutter

As promised, there will be leftovers! And these are my favourite recipes to tackle them

  1. Keema patties (Recipe coming soon…)
  2. Keema paratha (Recipe coming soon…)
  3. Keema dumplings (Recipe coming soon…)
  4. Keema puffs

I hope you try this recipe my way. If you do, I would love to hear how it turned out to be. Follow me for more yummy recipes and share on social.

Thank you!

P.S. Cooking times are for chicken or turkey mince. If you are using red meat, try a pressure cooker to shorten cooking time.