A spicy, saucy Indian curry with mushrooms and coconut that pairs nicely with rice and is really the ultimate vegan comfort food. Nut-free, gluten-free and soy-free recipe.
My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry, the recipe with the weird-sounding name, has lived on this blog since its infancy. I first posted it in 2008 just a couple of months after I had started blogging, and it was probably my first recipe that so many of you made and loved.
For me, this dish is the ultimate comfort food. I grew up in a meat-eating Indian household and one of our family’s long-standing traditions was a mutton curry that my dad made for the family each Sunday.
My dad, who was very handy around the kitchen unlike many men of his generation in India, would do most of the work, right from buying the mutton (goat’s meat) in the morning to actually cooking it, as well as supervising everyone in the household who had some role to play in the actual preparation.
My job was peeling a whole bulb of garlic and grating two kinds of coconut, fresh and dry. I hated both jobs: the juices from the garlic set my fingernails on fire, and I don’t remember a time when I didn’t grate my hand along with the coconut!
But I did love that curry. I can close my eyes and still see my dad standing over a two-burner stove in our Bombay kitchen, carefully roasting the spices and then grinding them to perfection in a little blender. He loved making that curry, just as much as we loved eating it.
After turning vegetarian, I sometimes would crave the spices in my dad’s mutton curry and that’s why I came up with this not-mutton mushroom curry. At the time I first made it, there weren’t as many meatless meats on the market, and I chose to use mushrooms — and sometimes eggplants — instead of the meat. Both veggies absorb the flavors of the garam masala spices used in this recipe beautifully while retaining the curry’s original robust texture.
I make this curry with the exact spices my dad used, but because I use veggies instead of meat, I get to skip several steps involving marinating and tenderizing the meat — ah, the joys of being vegan.
When I first posted this recipe, I used two kinds of mushrooms, crimini and shiitake. This time, I used portobellos and eggplant. You can use one or all of these for a delicious and healthy curry. I swear I have never missed the meat in it. I am certain even meat-eaters would love its robust flavors.
The curry is perfect either with brown or white rice or with any kind of Indian bread. In India, you’d eat a curry like that with a soft roll called a pav — tear pieces of the soft roll with your fingers and dunk it into the curry.
Serve it with a spritz of lemon, a cucumber raita on the side, and you’ll be in heaven.
Try these recipes next:
My Dad’s Not Mutton Mushroom Curry
My Dad's 'Not-Mutton' Mushroom Curry
- 1.5 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1-2 dry red chili peppers
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 5 pods green cardamom
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 6 tsp black peppercorns (use less for less heat)
- 2 large onions (one sliced, the other chopped)
- 2-4 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
- 6 large garlic cloves , sliced
- 1-inch piece ginger , thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 14 oz diced tomatoes (or 2 medium tomatoes, diced)
- 2 medium potatoes (cubed and microwaved with some water for about 5 minutes until they are barely tender)
- 3 cups mushrooms (assorted. Clean and slice into chunky strips. I use a mix of crimini, shiitake, portobello or button mushrooms, or just one kind.)
- 2 medium Japanese eggplants (or 4 of the small globe-like eggplants used in Indian cooking)
- Lemons for serving
- Heat 1/2 tbsp of the oil in a skillet. Add the coriander, cumin, chillies. cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, poppy seeds and fennel seeds and roast until the coriander seeds start changing color and become fragrant.
- Add the sliced onion, garlic and ginger and saute until the onions get brown spots. Remove to a blender.
- Without adding any more oil, roast the shredded coconut in the hot pan until they start turning golden-brown. Be vigilant because coconut can burn easily. Add the coconut to the blender with the other spices and the tomato.
- Blend into a smooth paste. Add a little water if necessary to keep the blades moving. I find that the juice in the tomatoes is usually enough.
- In the same skillet used for toasting the spices and onions, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil.
- Add the chopped onions and cilantro and cook until the onions start getting brown spots.
- Stir in the turmeric and add the mushrooms and eggplants, if using. Add some salt and stir well. Cover the pan and let the vegetables cook over medium-low heat for about five minutes. Stir a couple of times to make sure they don't stick -- some brown spots are fine and even good.
- Add the cooked potatoes and the ground masala from the blender. Add two cups water or vegetable stock is even better.
- Stir to mix well and bring everything to a boil. You can add more stock or water if you want a thinner curry.
- Add salt if needed and let the curry simmer for another 10 minutes so the flavors meld.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice or bread, and wedges of lemons to squirt on top of the curry. A cucumber raita goes perfectly with this.