Learn how to make Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom ~ Semi dry spicy curry of mushrooms cheese and bell peppers cooked in a spicy tomato gravy flavoured with freshly ground spice mix
Imagine your food without spices. Unimaginable, isn’t it? They are the best ingredients to include in daily cooking as they not only add flavours and colours, but also bring out complex and rich flavours from the food itself. Almost every cuisine of the world has not gone untouched by a sprinkle of spices, but none of them embraces the spices close to its bosom as Indian cuisine which unashamedly uses these flavourful spices to the brim! Everything from curries to chai, our food and drinks brims with spices.
Throughout the past, there has been great wars fought for these spices; some won and some lost leaving path on the map marked with riches, blood and sacrifices. The spice routes were formed, lands were plundered and looted, innocent blood was shed, and a lot was lost in a quest for Indian spices which as the history says was so valuable that it was worth more than a gold in weight! Such was the lure of spices which makes them not just mere ingredients in Indian cuisine, but a way of life…
When it comes to Indian recipes, the spices play a key role in enhancing the dish. Many herbs and spices can complement a dish and each other harmoniously. Spices and herbs should be used to enhance the natural flavour of food, and not to disguise or obscure it and this takes years of experience gained only by practice and patience.
There is no general rule for the correct amount of spices and herbs to use as the pungency of each spice and herb differs and its effect on different foods varies. Different spices have different characteristics, with some having more than one virtue. Some spices are earthy like cumin and turmeric, some are spicy such as ginger, chillies, turmeric, mustard, pepper etc which give a warming sensation and have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. While some have floral or sweet note such as vanilla and star anise, others add colour like saffron and turmeric. The more we explore the different flavour profiles of the spices, the better we understand their ability to make any dish more flavourful by blending them with other ingredients to make a meal tastier!
Some recipes use as little as 2-3 spices and some call for more a combination of more than two dozen spices harmoniously blended together to make a spectacular dish bursting with flavours like this recipe of Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushrooms which is a semi dry dish where mushrooms are cooked in a rich tomato paste flavoured with freshly roasted and ground whole spices. This is one of those Indian dishes that demonstrates how to perfectly balance the spices so that they complement one another without overpowering each other and the meaty taste of mushrooms and peppery flavour of bell peppers.
The recipe of Kadai Mushroom uses whole spices instead of spice powders and hence the name Khada or Khara which also translates as whole. Traditionally onions and tomatoes are finely chopped and then cooked until they fall apart. Since I was short on time, I pureed the tomatoes which not only saved time from chopping but also reduces the cooking time. Two main ingredients, Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and Whole Coriander Seeds play a vital role as they not only give Kadai Mushroom the flavour but also distinct aroma. Using fresh ingredients and aromatic spices, Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom is a crowd pleaser. And what more, making Kadai Mushroom is a child’s play and it takes under 30 minutes to cook this exotic dish. The crunch of bell peppers compliments the softness of paneer and the sweet and spicy onion-tomato paste makes this Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom one exciting dish to serve with any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice.
Kadai Mushroom Curry (Mushroom and bell peppers cooked in a spicy tomato gravy flavoured with freshly ground spice mix)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Recipe Level: Easy/Beginner
Spice Level: Medium
Serves: 5-6 People
Shelf Life: Best served fresh but can be refrigerated for 2-3 days
Serving Suggestion: With any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice
400 gms Mushrooms (I have used around 15 medium sized white mushrooms)
1 large Onion, peeled and very finely chopped
3 large Tomatoes or 1 canned Plum Tomatoes, pureed
2 Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into 1 cm thin long pieces
2 tsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
2-3 tbsp Fresh Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp Sugar
Salt to taste
Spices for Kadai Masala:
1 inch Cinnamon
4 Green Cardamoms
1 Black Cardamom
½ Star Anise
1 Bay Leaf
8-12 Black Peppercorns (Adjust as per taste)
¾ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Saunf/Fennel Seeds
1 heaped tbsp. Dhania/Coriander Seeds
2-4 Dry Red Chilli (Adjust as per taste)
Other Spices Used:
½ + ½ tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder (Optional)
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi/Dry Fenugreek Leaves
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida (Optional)
1 + ½ tbsp. Oil
- Dry roast the whole spices (cinnamon, green cardamoms, black cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, star anise, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and dry red chillies) on low to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until their colour deepens and the aroma of the roasted spices wafts through the kitchen. Roasting the spices releases their essential oils, making them more fragrant and flavourful. Do take care not to burn the spices as they will taste bitter. Let the spices cool down to room temperature before grinding them to coarse powder in a spice grinder or good old pestle and mortar. Keep it aside until needed.
- Finely chop the onions and grind the fresh or tinned tomatoes to smooth puree.
- Wash the mushrooms and pat them dry with a kitchen napkin. Cut them into two halves and keep them aside until needed.
- Wash and finely chop the fresh coriander leaves and keep it aside.
Proceed to cook:
- Heat ½ tbsp. of oil and add mushrooms. Stir fry the mushrooms on medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to release the water. Reduce the heat to medium and add ½ tsp turmeric powder. Sprinkle some salt and continue to stir fry the mushrooms until all the moisture in a pan evaporates, about 3-4 mins. Transfer the mushrooms into a clean bowl or plate before returning the pan back onto hob.
- Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan on medium flame and when its heated, add cumin seeds and hing. When cumin seeds sizzle and change colour to deeper shade, add finely chopped onions, sugar and a pinch of salt. The sugar helps to caramelise the onion while the salt speeds up the cooking.
- Sauté the onions until the edges turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry it until the raw smell disappears, about a minute or two.
- Next add the turmeric powder and red chilli powder and give it a good mix before adding the tomato puree. Mix them all well and then cover the pan with lid and let it cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes.
- Open the lid and mix in ground spice mix and salt to taste. Add about ¼ to ½ cup of water if you find the gravy too thick. The gravy will bubble and splutter, so be careful and keep stirring the gravy all the while.
- Add the mushrooms, bell pepper pieces along with crushed kasuri methi leaves and stir them for 4-5 minutes.
- Cover the pan and let it rest for at least 15 minutes for the mushrooms to absorb the heavenly flavours. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves if desired before serving this delicious Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom with any Indian flat breads (Whole Wheat Naan or Butter Naan or with any stuffed parathas) or plain/flavoured Basmati rice. Enjoy!
- Adding sugar and salt when frying onions is something I usually do when making a curry. The sugar helps to caramalise the onions and salt speed up the cooking of onions.
- I simply didn’t add any Garam Masala and in its place I have used whole spice mix instead. The Khadi or Khara actually means whole, and hence whole spices are used in making any Khadai dishes.
- Kadai Mushroom or Karahi Mushroom is semi dry dish but if you prefer gravy to semi-dry, simply add little water after cooking the pureed tomatoes to get required consistency.
- Two main ingredients, Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and whole coriander seeds play a vital role as they not only give Kadai Mushrooms the flavour but also distinct aroma. So please don’t miss these two ingredients.