Spicy Mushroom Chettinad

Mushroom Chettinad

Chettinad, a region in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, brims over with opulent wealth, beautiful temples, and fiery cuisine that can make your eyes, nose, and mouth water simultaneously. And if you think that sounds like most Indian food, you’ve got another think coming

Chettinad cuisine and its unique fieriness come from a liberal use of black pepper. While black pepper is part of nearly every garam masala or spicy curry ever cooked up in India, its heat and flavor usually mingles and merges with the heat and flavors of other spices during the cooking process. But in Chettinad cuisine the black pepper is usually added to dishes at the tail end, separating out its fieriness from that of other spices.Mushroom Chettinad

The first Chettinad dish I ever ate was at a restaurant in Chennai (then Madras), and it was a chicken curry. A Chettinad chicken curry was also one of the first dishes I learned how to cook from watching one of my favorite chefs, Sanjeev Kapoor, on Indian television. As my own food preferences have changed over the years, I have tried to translate those well-remembered flavors into plant-based dishes, like the Spicy Mushroom Chettinad I have for you today.

This is a supremely healthy dish that’s quite easy to make, but do adjust the pepper and chilies per your taste and tolerance. I usually tone down the heat in my own recipes because of Desi’s sensitivity to spicy food– were my dad cooking this dish, he’d probably add four times as much and still find the recipe not spicy enough. Still, this curry, when I made it this past weekend, brought tears to my eyes.

This dish tastes best with an Indian flatbread, like an Aloo Paratha, which balances the heat perfectly. It’s also great over some boiled white rice.

Here’s the recipe, all. Enjoy!

Mushroom Chettinad

Spicy Mushroom Chettinad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 8
  • 1 pound cremini or button mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 green pepper, cut into fairly large chunks, about 1-inch square
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods, whole
  • 2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp garlic, crushed into a paste or minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 green chillies, minced
  • 1 sprig (about 10-12) curry leaves
  • Coriander for garnish
  • 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the mustard and cumin seeds and let them sputter.
  2. Add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves and stir for a minute. Add the onions, curry leaves, and green chillies.
  3. Sprinkle some salt and saute the onions until they start to brown.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for another minute.
  5. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Stir to coat with the oil and toast for a minute.
  6. Add the tomatoes and saute, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes begin to express the oil.
  7. Add the mushrooms, green peppers, and salt to taste.
  8. Stir everything together, lower the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and have expressed some liquid.
  9. Finish by adding the black pepper and coriander leaves. Turn off the heat.
  10. If, after adjusting the chilies to your taste, you find the dish is still too spicy, add some coconut milk to tone it down. You can also serve the curry with some
  11. Raita.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

16 thoughts on “Spicy Mushroom Chettinad

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 16, 2011 at 9:59pm

    Wow.. that looks delicious.!! Amazing clicks

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 17, 2011 at 12:10am

    First, I love all your recipes. Mushrooms are my favorite and this chettinad looks so good!

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 17, 2011 at 4:00am

    Is that really one TABLESPOON of black pepper? O my. It looks delish, tho, and really, you had me at indian flatbread.

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 17, 2011 at 4:08am

    Sharmilee, Divya, Thanks!

    Priyanka, welcome to the blog, and thanks!

    Elena, yes, but as I say in the post, adjust the pepper and chilies down to your taste.

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    anthony stemke

    November 17, 2011 at 4:14am

    Yeah what they said, all your recipes are superb. I adore black pepper and all the ingreds here,going to make it soon.
    Thank You.

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 17, 2011 at 5:48am

    Looks yummy and beautiful.It must be spicy,I will try it.

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 17, 2011 at 2:15pm

    Super delicious mushroom chettinad..

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 17, 2011 at 2:18pm

    Anthony, thank you: you are kind. This is a great dish for a black-pepper-lover. Hope you enjoy it! :)

    Rashmi, Sanjeeta, Priya, thanks!

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    November 30, 2011 at 10:40pm

    Hi Vaishali I’ve been reading your blog and making and enjoying your recipes for ages so I feel the need to break the silence and say Thank You!!! I’ve made many of your dal recipes (my mum and I LOVE your green tomato masial and green tomatoes are surprisingly easy to get year round from the Turkish shops in London). This looks absolutely delicious do you think it would be good with some chickpeas or cubed tofu or would you serve it as a side dish? Also how many people are your recipes for?
    Thanks again! ;)

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 1, 2011 at 2:39pm

    Dear Hannah, thanks for breaking the silence, and for your kind words. The tomato masial is Desi’s favorite dish, and I’m happy to hear you love it too.
    My recipes would typically feed about six people, although that can of course vary. I would serve this curry with rice and parathas, and some chickpeas or tofu would actually work quite well in here. Good suggestions. :)

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 1, 2011 at 10:47pm

    I can’t wait to make this but just a quick question what variety of mushroom do you prefer? O and do you think this would keep and reheat well/work cold the next day or is it best fresh? Thanks!

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 2, 2011 at 3:24pm

    I used crimini or small portabella mushrooms here. But you could try shiitake or button mushrooms– they would be great. And this dish would actually taste better the next day because the flavors have had time to percolate into each other.

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    December 4, 2011 at 9:10pm

    I made this for dinner on Friday and it was delicious! Chucked a tin of chickpeas in and it worked wonderfully. And was lovely for a quick lunch on Saturday too. Many thanks! :)

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