This post is dedicated to my lovely friend Margo.
Margo was the first friend I made after moving to the United States 11 years ago. She is one of the warmest, most intelligent and compassionate people I know. Her hubby, Jon, and she are posted overseas a few years at a time, and each time she fearlessly and wholeheartedly immerses herself in these complex new places and cultures.
Margo was the first to introduce Desi and me to Middle Eastern food and its delightful flavors. She is also one pal who always has nice things to say about my cooking, whether or not I deserve it, which always makes it an enjoyable experience to cook for her and Jon when they visit.
Last night, Margo stayed over with us. She loved this mushroom curry that I made for her and told me she has been trying to cook more vegetarian meals. In the past I have promised Margo countless recipes and failed to deliver because of time constraints and my own sieve-like memory. One of the things I hope this blog will do is make me more organized about sharing my recipes with friends and anyone that cares about compassionate cooking.
So here's Margo's Masala Mushroom Curry. It takes minutes to throw together yet has many layers of flavor, thanks to the curry leaves and garam masala.
In the recipe I use light coconut milk which I buy from Whole Foods, but you can easily substitute with 2 parts regular coconut milk and 1 part water. While coconut does contain some saturated fat, it is far healthier than the fat found in animal products and is also considered to have anti-carcinogenic properties.
Margo's Masala Mushroom Curry
1 tbsp canola or olive oil
2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms (can substitute with button mushrooms)
1 tsp sugar
2 sprigs curry leaves. Chop the leaves into fine shreds.
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp garam masala powder (my recipe follows, but you can use store-bought)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 medium onion, diced
1 14-oz can of light coconut milk
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat.
Saute the diced onion with sugar and curry leaves.
When the onions start to brown, add the ginger and garlic and saute for another minute.
Add garam masala and turmeric and stir until spices are coated with oil, about a minute.
Add mushrooms and salt. Stir occasionally until mushrooms soften and the juices begin to ooze out.
When mushrooms are almost tender, add coconut milk and turn heat to low. Let the mixture simmer gently for about 2-5 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through.
Serve hot with rice or rotis.
I didn't have coriander leaves when I made this, but a garnish of 2 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves would further enhance this dish.
My garam masala recipe is a little unusual in that I add a teaspoon of methi or fenugreek seeds to it, but you can leave it out. I love methi because it rounds out the flavor of the spices and has great health benefits, including fighting diabetes.
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp black pepper
2 red chilies
1 tsp methi or fenugreek seeds
4 cardamom pods
1-inch stick of cinnamon.
Roast lightly in a dry skillet. Grind together in a coffee grinder and use immediately or store in an airtight container.
If you love mushroom curries, which make great meat substitutes, you might also want to try my Dad's Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry, a personal favorite, or this really simple but really delicious Mushroom and Spinach Curry that is perfect for weeknights.