Growing up in the southern most part of India, I had only heard of edible mushrooms in storybooks and seen them in picture books. The ones that appeared out of nowhere during rainy season in my hometown were usually very tiny. We were warned not to touch them as they were poisonous and so we never did .
By the time I was in college, my family had moved to a town that was dry for the major part of the year and mushrooms were rarely seen around.
The University Of Agriculture which was situated in a village nearby was conducting an one day training course for growing Oyster Mushroom in homes. They were promoting it as a small business idea for small scale farmers.
My mom’s friend and our neighbor (whom we lovingly called Lawyer aunty because her husband was a Lawyer), is a science teacher and she wanted to go and learn the process of growing mushrooms for profit at home. She wanted company and asked me if I wanted to go, when my mom couldn’t get leave from work. I tagged along with her because I could skip college .
I must confess that although I went there without expecting much, I came away very fascinated by what we learnt there.
Along with the training on how to grow mushrooms at home, each participant was given a little booklet with detailed instructions of all that we learnt there and some recipes plus a bottle of spawn.
I promptly got to work. All the stars aligned. Amma let me use the little shed outside our home. Since it was harvest season, there was plenty of hay from our paddy fields which I used to sow the sample spawn I got at the University, to grow my very first batch of mushrooms .
I was so thrilled when those pristine white oyster mushrooms appeared on the little hay bundles I had prepared for the mushrooms to grow! For you see, the green thumb thing completely skipped me even though I was born into a family of agriculturists.
After a bountiful harvest we didn’t know how to cook the mushrooms so we gave some to friends and neighbours and Amma added them to the curries she made.
One day, I decided to try a recipe from the little booklet we got at the University. The recipe was rather simple but quite tasty! And quickly became a regular in our home.
Later, I found out that our farm help on my dad’s farm also used this same recipe to cook wild mushrooms. The only spices used here in this recipe are pepper and cumin.
The original recipe used Oyster Mushrooms, but I’ve substituted button mushrooms and the taste does not differ much
250 gms Mushroom (chopped )
1 tsp pepper
1 Onion (chopped)
1 small tomato
1 tsp grated coconut (optional)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mustard
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Curry leaves, salt to taste
Heat oil in a skillet.
Add Cumin, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
Add Chopped onions, cook till they are pink in color.
Then add the tomato pieces. Saute well till mushy.
Add salt and pepper.
Now add the Mushroom. Saute well.
Sprinkle a little water. Cover and let it cook.
Add chopped corriander leaves.
Cook till the mushrooms are soft and well cooked but still firm .
Sprinkle grated coconut.
Serve as a side dish for rice.
Cook book scribbles: Without the coconut, this masala can also be used as a sandwich filler.
If you haven’t had time to bake a cake the easiest option I’ve found is to buy a sponge cake from the supermarket, spread jam and whipped cream on the first layer (as a filling) then top with the second layer of cake. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over the top of the cake then decorate with sprinkles. Voila!
Add candles and you’ve got a great birthday cake everyone will love.
You can also ice the cake as I did with the cake below. Fun candles and fresh strawberries really make this cake look special.
To whip the cream for a round sponge I use 250ml of cream, 1-2 Tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence.
Beetroot Hummus is one dish that brings with it memories of eating at our favourite Turkish restaurant, giving us a chance to have a taste of the beautiful flavours of middle eastern street food of Kuwait right here at home in Christchurch.
Stored in an airtight container, it stays fresh for several days in the fridge. Beetroot hummus tastes great with fresh cut cucumbers, carrots or crackers, pita bread or pita chips making it the perfect mid morning to late evening snack. What’s more, its so easy to make. The only timetaking process is the roasting of the beets.
Roasted Beet Hummus
Ingredients to serve 4
3 large cloves of garlic
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste , available in supermarkets)
salt to taste
fresh black pepper to taste.
½ tsp ground cumin powder
1 medium beetroot.
1 small green chilli
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Peel the skin of the beetroot, chop into big chunks . Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Wrap the beetroot chunks in aluminum foil and roast them until soft and tender, takes about half an hour to an hour in my oven. When done, remove and let it cool.
Drain chick peas and rinse well. Keep aside. Peel garlic.
In a blender, add the cooled down beet, chickpeas, and garlic. Blend into a paste.
Add tahini, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt to taste. Blend till hummus is smooth and creamy like a dip. Add pepper and drizzle olive oil over it. Serve with pita, or with veggies.
Cookbook Scribbles :
Add water only if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as you like.
In a pinch I have also used precooked beets.
If its too much work roasting the beets, skip and just blend the other ingredients and you still have a yummy hummus dip😉
MLLA is an ongoing, monthly event since 2008,
in which, bloggers from any country or cuisine can take part in this event by presenting their vegetarian legume recipes. This event was created and started by Susan of The well seasoned Cook in 2008 and has been hosted by Lisa of Lisa’s kitchen since February 2013.
Turmeric in the Tamil language is called Manjal, which when directly translated means yellow. Obviously the name came from the colour of the spice. Not only is Turmeric or Manjal a commonly used ingredient in almost all the South Indian food preparations, it is also often used as a home remedy.When we were little , I remember distinctly when we hurt ourselves playing , the wounds were washed and dressed with a mix of crushed small shallots and turmeric .
Women applied turmeric paste on their faces to protect the skin from acne and other skin blemishes. The most common medicinal use however, is for common cold and cough.
Whenever we got sniffles or scratchy throat, during the monsoon season in India, my mom always made Manjal paal aka Turmeric latte for us to drink.
Although I did not appreciate it much during childhood, I appreciate it a lot now as I find it very smoothing with its amazing healing properties for cold, sore throat and cough that tag along with the seasonal changes.
This is a simple yet very effective time tested remedy thats handy to have around when the seasonal changes bring along allergies and other minor ailments with it.
Turmeric latte also aids with getting a goodnight’s sleep at night.
Ingredients to serve 1
Milk : 11/2Cup
Turmeric : 1/2 tsp
Black Pepper 1/4 tsp (freshly ground)
Raw Sugar/Honey/Palm Jaggery to taste
In a small saucepan, take milk . Hear on medium heat uncovered until almost boiling. Add in turmeric and black pepper.Stir well .Reduce heat and let it simmer for five minute. When the spices have blended evenly with the milk, remove from flame.Add raw sugar/honey or palm jaggery to taste. Serve warm.
Cook Book Scribbles: Although the above mentioned ingredients are more than enough to make a tasty turmeric latte,a large pinch of ground dry ginger powder , cardamom powder and a couple of saffron strands can also be added along with turmeric and pepper to enhance the taste.