My favorite dish to cook and eat has always been My Dad’s “Not-Mutton” Mushroom Curry– a recipe I shared long ago here at Holy Cow! It is a spicy, saucy vegan curry made using the same flavor base my father used when he cooked his very special mutton curry for our family each Sunday, when I was growing up.
The vegan version I first shared contains far less fat than my father’s curry did, because I both cut down on the amount of oil added to the dish and because, of course, I cut out on all that fat that meat inevitably introduces to a dish. As I explore ways to make my recipes even leaner than they already are, I decided to challenge myself this weekend: to see if I could make a version of my dad’s not-mutton mushroom curry with no added fats whatsoever, without losing any of that wonderful flavor.
I must say I surprised myself– very pleasantly. I left out completely the two tablespoons of oil that I had used in my earlier version, and I cut down on the coconut milk. But I also modified the process to add more flavor without adding more oil. For instance, I roasted the garlic and the chillies, and I added green bell peppers. It had been a suggestion from a reader who’d tried the recipe, and it was a really good one.
I also used a different spice mix: instead of the garam masala that my father mixed up each time he made the dish, I used Kolhapuri Masala. This is a zingy red masala from Kolhapur, a city in the Indian state of Maharashtra known for its fiery chillies. I chose it because it has more ingredients than garam masala does, and therefore it adds more depth to the dish– very important when you’re cooking without fat. Since Desi can’t stand too much heat in his food, the chillies I use to mix up my Kolhapuri masala are just the moderately spicy dry red chillies I keep in my pantry and not the super-spicy ones. Still, the flavor’s quite special. I always keep a jar of Kolhapuri masala around for those evenings when I need to come up with something really special really fast.
Here are the recipes, then, for my no-fat-added version of My Dad’s “Not-Mutton” Mushroom Curry, and for that very special Kolhapuri masala. Enjoy, all!
My Dad’s “Not-Mutton” Mushroom Curry, the Fat-Free Version
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
2 medium potatoes, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
1 large green pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1-inch finger of ginger, coarsely chopped
1 cup tomato puree
2 green chillies
1/4 cup Kolhapuri Masala (recipe follows)
1/4 cup coconut milk
Heat a large pan. Turn the heat to medium and add the onions. Roast, stirring frequently, until brown spots appear.
Add the garlic and ginger and saute another two minutes.
Remove the onions, ginger and garlic to a blender. Add the tomato puree, green chillies, and half the coconut milk.
Add enough water and blend into a smooth paste.
Heat the same pan and add the kolhapuri masala to it along with the rest of the coconut milk. Saute for a couple of minutes, then add the potatoes, mushrooms, and green bell pepper and stir to coat everything.
Add the blended masala paste and add enough water so the veggies are almost but not quite submerged. Bring everything to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Slap a lid on the pan and let it cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Season with salt to taste. Garnish with some fresh coriander and serve hot with rice, roti, naan, or a crusty bread.
8 dry red chillies
1 cup coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
8 cloves garlic
1 large onion
12 green cardamom pods
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp mace
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 2-inch piece of cinnamon
4 large bay leaves
2 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp turmeric
Roast all the ingredients one at a time (except the turmeric), until they are a couple of shades darker and aromatic. Roast the garlic and the onion until dark spots appear, but don’t let them burn.
Remove everything to a dish to cool, and then place in a blender. Blend into a coarse powder. I sometimes add some coconut milk, blend the masala into a paste and then freeze it, but you can skip that because we are trying to cut out fats from our diet.