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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chattu Besara ( Odisha's delectable Mushroom curry)

Odisha is home to a huge variety of mushrooms, most of them sprouting in the wild during the humid monsoon months. I still remember the distinct flavor of the indigenous varieties like 'rugda', 'bihuduni', bhanu', 'nada' and 'pala' chattu which were sold in the local markets by the tribal women who gathered them from the forests. But most vivid are the memories of the 'bali' chattu or sand mushrooms that sprung up unexpectedly in our backyard during the rains. The incredible taste was reward enough for the hour or two that we had to spend in plucking them without damaging or breaking off the delicate stems.

Most of the mushrooms in Odisha are cooked in tangy mustard gravy . But sometimes, we used to stir-fry the delicately flavored ones with just a pinch of salt and turmeric. While the cultured varieties like the button mushrooms or the oyster mushrooms that are available in Bangalore can never match the sheer burst of flavor that the indigenous ones provide, once in a while I do cook the former in the traditional style. It is an easy-to-do recipe that is not only light but pairs up quite nicely with a simple steamed rice and yellow dal.

Read on for the recipe -

Cooking Time : 30-35 mins

  • 200 gm Button Mushrooms
  • 1 medium potato 
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 10 garlic flakes
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 sprig coriander leaves
  • 1 green chilli 
  • 2 dry red chilis
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds (for tempering)
  • 2 nos dried mango pieces (ambula)
  • 3 tsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste

Preparation: Fill a large vessel with water and add turmeric. Immerse the mushrooms in the water and leave for 10 mins. Drain the turmeric water and wash the mushrooms with sufficient fresh water. Pat them dry with a rough kitchen towel and use the same to remove their skin.

Grind the dry red chilis, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and garlic pods (4 nos) into a fine paste. Soak the dried mango pieces in about 1/2 cup of water.

Cut the mushroom, potato, onion and tomato into small pieces.

Cooking: Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan. When it starts smoking, add the mushrooms, potato pieces and little bit of salt. Stir fry till the potato is almost cooked.

Heat another pan. Add 1 tsp oil, 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, 4 flakes crushed garlic and 1 green chili. When the garlic starts to brown, add the chopped onion. Fry till the onion becomes transparent.

Add tomato pieces to the pan and sprinkle a little salt on them. When the tomato becomes mushy, add the mustard-garlic paste, turmeric and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Then add the fried mushroom and potato. Adjust salt and let it simmer for 10 mins

Finally, add the soaked mango pieces(ambula) along with the water used for soaking . Boil for 5-6 mins. Add the coriander leaves, 2 crushed garlic flakes, a few drops of mustard oil and remove from the fire.

Serve at room temperature along with rice and yellow dal.

Note - To avoid making the curry bitter, dissolve the mustard-cumin paste in 2 cups of water and let it stand aside for 10 mins. Carefully drain the water into another bowl taking care that the solid residue is left behind. Add the drained water to the curry and throw away the solids.

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