Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mushroom Chilli

Sunday, May 13th was Mother's Day. I prayed for my Mother's well being and good health. I also wish all the Mom's around the world good health, peace and happiness.

My Ma is the wind beneath my wings. She is the reason I began this blog, thinking of which fills me with pure, undiluted, nostalgia. She is a short, petite, fair lady who has a unique sense of humor and an inspirational way of looking at life. She likes Roses in particular. Freshly brewed filter coffee,  Paej (soupy Rosematta rice) and deep fried Pumpkin Buds (Dudya Kalo) are her favorite foods. Ma keeps giving me gyaan on the phone and I miss her a lot as she is thousand miles away from me. She tells me to use more of my heart and less of my head because she feels the world needs more compassion and kindness which is depleting nowadays. She advises me to offer hope to the less fortunate, share as much as I can and be kind with words and actions. I try to assimilate as much as I can and challenge her with few theories and beliefs which I don't accept, some which she agrees with a firm nod. So, in essence we have a unique, symbiotic, enriching friendship and a deep fulfilling bond. Best of all, she accepts me the way I am.

Ma keeps herself busy with social work, helping women and children in need, care for senior citizens, providing aid for widows in distress, community work projects, etc. In hindsight, she has brought a big difference to many people and their lives, few of them are extremely grateful to her for changing their lives. But she rarely talks about her social work and her accomplishments. For me, that's a big lesson in humility. While in India, I often take my parents out on short holidays and trips. On few special days, I cook for my parents and get their favorite movie DVD and we enjoy pop-corn, hors d'oeuvre and funny jabber with each other. My home in India has a very open, democratic culture. We are together yet are our own individual selves. Of the few dishes which I've cooked for her, she likes Mushroom Chilli a lot. Ironically, my Ma likes Indian Chinese but my Dad prefers Konkani food 24/7 and I enjoy anything cooked by Ma. She likes her food spicy, Dad also likes spicy food and I like mine super spicy, so you get the drift. In the end, we enjoy each others company a lot. Coming to the recipe - this is a simple, quick-to-cook Indian Chinese and is special to me because my Ma likes this a lot.

~ Mushroom Chilli ~
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Baby Bella Mushrooms (cleaned, rinsed and pat dried) - 8 oz. ~ around 12 mushrooms
Spring Onions (onion bulb and greens separately chopped) - 1/2 cup and 1 tbsp  greens for garnish
Salad Oil

Green Chillies (thinly sliced) - 3
Soy Sauce (light with low sodium) - 2 tsp
Chilli Sauce (green) - 1 tsp
Pepper powder (coarsely ground) - 1/2 tsp
Garlic (finely chopped) - 3 jumbo flakes
Ginger paste - 1/2 tsp

For Garnish -
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1 tbsp
Spring Onion Greens (chopped) - 1 tbsp

Contraption needed - Wok

1. Rinse, wash and pat dry the mushrooms. Pluck out the stem and halve them. I do this because mushrooms in US are bigger. The Indian ones are smaller in size so you can leave them whole. In a hot wok, heat salad oil and add the sliced green chillies first. Once they are part fried, add ginger paste and garlic. Saute well till they wilt. This takes around 3 minutes. Keep the flame on medium.
2. Add the chopped onions now and saute till they caramelize. Add the chopped mushroom stem, pepper powder, add soya sauce and chilli sauce. Adjust salt as required. Do not add any water.This should take about 5 minutes.
3. Add the halved mushrooms now and toss them on high heat. Mushrooms release water upon cooking and this creates a flavored sauce. Cook for about 2 minutes and stop at this stage if you are pairing the Mushroom Chilli with Noodles and need extra gravy.
4. Cook on high heat. The water released from Mushroom creates a self-saucing stock which thickens with high heat. This process  is called reduction in culinary art and it intensifies the flavor of the sauce. The stock evaporates and high heat thereby softening the mushrooms. Once the sauce is thickly coated on all the mushrooms, turn off the heat. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with coriander leaves and greens of spring onions. Serve hot or warm. Pair with Chinese Noodles or on its own.

Note - I strictly avoid MSG (Aginomoto) in my cooking, you could add it while adding salt, in which case reduce the quantity of salt added. Soya Sauce has high sodium so be careful while adding extra salt. In US, I prefer BabyBella mushrooms (baby Portobello Mushrooms). They hold their shape  and are firm for Indian-Chinese cooking. Salad oil tastes better, else use any neutral flavored cooking oil.


  1. What a sweet post, Ashwini. Your mother sounds like an absolute gem. I love that she is so kind and compassionate. Hopefully, as my baby daughter grows, I'll have the same kind of positive relationship with her.

    1. She is a darling! For her, the social work gives her lot of peace and happiness. She is also super funny! Lila is super lucky to have you as Mom and I'm sure both of you will be tight-knit and close.

  2. What a wonderful mom, and such a lovely post. And a great recipe

    1. @ Radha - Thank you. I like this recipe because she likes it. :)


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