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.

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  1. Elena says

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

  2. says

    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.

  3. Hannah says

    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! 😉

  4. says

    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. :)

  5. Hannah says

    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!

  6. says

    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.

  7. Hannah says

    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! :)

  8. Smanders says

    Hello and thank you! I obsessed with this dish; I have made it 3 times so far. Each time the only thing I add is some broiled eggplant. The heat is perfect and the large chunks of mushroom and green pepper really make it hearty. My only question- Is there a trick to removing the whole spice pieces and pods? I have been trying to sort through before I dig in but invariably I get big bite of cardamon or clove… That in no way stops my from chowing down of course!

    • says

      Hi Smanders, eggplant is a great addition. You can add ground garam masala instead of the whole spices, but add no more than a teaspoon. Or just fish out the whole spices before serving. So happy you liked the dish, and thanks for letting me know! :)

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