Tuesday, March 22, 2011


In vegan and even vegetarian cookery, it can often be hard to add umami, or a savory quality, to many dishes. Often times umami comes from meat or other animal products in cooking. Fortunately, there are a few animal-free foods that can impart that particular brand of tastiness to your food, including kombu seaweed, tomatoes, cabbage, greens, miso, soy sauce and many other fermented foods. A major vegan source of savoriness is from mushrooms. These tasty little fungi provide not only umami, but also a wide range of nutrients! Bonus!

Here's a few of my recent cooking endeavors that featured the savory mushroom:

Pumpkin-Mushroom Curry (serves 4)
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs mustard seeds
1 Tbs cumin seeds
2 Tbs urad dal
12 curry leaves, chopped
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp asafoetida (also known as hing powder)
2-4 Thai chiles
6 cloves garlic, minced
1" ginger, minced
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
Pinch salt
4 cups fresh or frozen pumpkin, cubed (can also use butternut squash if pumpkin unavailable)
1/2 c water or vegetable broth
1 Tbs jaggery or brown sugar
1 Tbs tamarind
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 Tbs garbanzo flour
12 curry leaves, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat in a large wok or deep skillet. Add mustard and cumin seeds, cook 30 seconds until they begin to sizzle and pop. Add urad dal and curry leaves and cook 30 more seconds to lightly brown. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the turmeric, cayenne, and asafoetida and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add mushrooms and pinch of salt, and cook 5 minutes until mushrooms have cooked down and released some of their liquid. Add the pumpkin cubes, water or broth, jaggery, tamarind, salt, pepper, coriander and cumin. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce to low. Cover and simmer 10-12 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender and has cooked down somewhat. Add garbanzo flour and curry leaves, and then cook uncovered for 5 more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh red onion and cilantro, and serve alongside roti and plenty of Indian pickle.

And, another way to use mushrooms in Indian cooking:

Mushrooms and Peas in a Fenugreek Cream Sauce--veganized using pureed silken tofu instead of heavy cream, from the amazing cookbook 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer. I'm obsessed with this tasty stew and this book. It's a must have! This hearty dish was made even tastier served atop brown basmati rice
as well as with a side of a Radish Raita, also from 660 Curries, made with coconut yogurt. A perfectly filling a veggie-licous meal!


foodfeud said...

Wow, what are those black seeds in the raita? Sounds really interesting. I love mushrooms too..that pumpkin curry sounds great. I wish there were still some around.

Laura said...

They're black mustard seeds! So tasty!!

Janna Renee said...

oh wow! that pumpkin mushroom curry sounds phenomenal!

Anonymous said...

I think that it is great that you can modify a recipe that it isn't vegan and turn into a vegan meal. It is good advice for my friends on xl pharmacy blog.

Sarah said...

I bought asofedi like a million years ago. and STILL haven't used it! I should get on that!