Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mushroom Pepper Fry

Who doesn't love mushrooms? We sure do! A lot! And are constantly trying to find new ways to enjoy these beauties. We differ slightly in the way we like to eat the fungi - while I prefer them in simple stir-fries, grills and soups so as to be able to enjoy their natural flavour and texture to the maximum (as with most other foodstuff), Sunny likes to go the whole masaledaar hog - rich, spicy gravy-drowned mushroom curries and kormas. Me being a more selfish, er, picky eater, the last two times I cooked them, our mushrooms were made into simple, tasty and wholesome stir-fries - once with vegetables and once on their own. Sunny being the last person to denounce my cooking on earth, he ate them up quite uncomplainingly (not that he had any other option), though the only compliment he offered was that the taste kind of "grew on you" - so that finally when he was able to relish the dish he was at his last bite! This, from a usually effusive person, was a bit of a damp squib; though trust me it was quite tasty if one is into the whole natural flavours thing like me. So I gave the dish a 50/100 score and decided to move on.

Last Sunday Mr.Mushroom Man brought the bounty home again, and commanded me to cook them up Sunny-style. Now, blame it on my selective comprehension or onto the fact referred to here in fine print, or both as mutually symbiotic causalities (do I have any idea what I'm talking about?), I decided to reach a compromise and cook something nice and spicy which would be light on the stomach too. I had no desire to ingest copius quantities of fat-laden gravy and consequently spend my Sunday evening snoring away to glory. So I cooked this fry up in a jiffy, and boy! did it turn out to be nice?! Its full of natural umami (like artificial MSG or Ajinomoto) flavours, the onions add a nice crunch while the roasted peppers give hint of grilled smokiness - resulting in a unique yet well-rounded taste. The best thing is that a small quantity goes a long way in both whetting and satisfying the appetite. We both liked it, and here it is for you to savour.

  • Button/Cremini/Baby Porcini Mushrooms - 250 gms.

  • Potatoes - 2 small
  • Anaheim Peppers/Pahadi mirch - 2
  • Onion - 1 medium, diced finely
  • Garlic - 2 large cloves, finely diced/minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper - 1-1/4 tsp. or to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar - 1/8th tsp.
  • Key lime - 1
  • Vegetable oil / Butter - 1 tablespoon


  1. Wash and chop the mushrooms into roughly equal-sized medium dices.
  2. Wash and pat-dry the chilli-peppers. Roast them over open flame/grill till the skin is charred black. Immediately put them inside a plastic bag and keep aside. The peppers will sweat and after about 5 mins. or so, take them out and peel-off the black skin with your fingers. It will come-off easily. If you want you can give the peppers a quick wash to rid them of any residual black bits, but personally I prefer to leave them as is as that is where the flavour resides.
  3. Finely chop the peeled peppers. Mix with the chopped onions and set aside.
  4. Heat the oil/butter in a skillet/pan/wok.
  5. When smoking, add the garlic and stir for a second or so until golden and fragrant.
  6. Immediately add the potatoes and stir fry for about 5-6 mins. on high so that they form a crispy outer layer.
  7. Add the mushrooms to the pan, give a leisurely stir or two on high, add the salt and sugar, mix and cover.
  8. Lower the flame to medium-high and simmer the pan until the potatoes are cooked through.
  9. Add in the onion-pepper mix and the ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly to combine. Cover and cook for a minute and then remove from the flame.
  10. Let sit for around 5 mins. Then squeeze-in the juice of the lime and mix thoroughly.
  11. Serve hot with fresh roti/paratha/buttered toast.

Serves 2-3.

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