Alambe Buthi(Mushrooms in a semi-dry coconut gravy)

I disliked mushrooms. There,I said it. But as you can see, its past tense.

Growing up, we didn't eat much mushrooms at home. See, in the days of yore, what was cooked at home was what was growing in the back yards. Mushrooms , though not cultivated , would grow on their own and were cooked whenever it made an appearance.It was ,subsequently , discovered that all mushrooms were not edible . In fact, quite a lot of them were downright poisonous.My grandmother, who grew up in this era, never trusted a mushroom that she herself had not harvested. And since she moved to Bombay upon marriage….(You get the gist of it.). My tryst with mushrooms in restaurants just left me with the feeling of eating rubber. So, it was on my tried-but-not-liked list.

Then , of course, I got married. Marriage brings forth lots of changes, its said. That certainly was the case with me and mushrooms.A couple of weeks after marriage, we were on a train journey to our native place (mangalore) to seek the blessings of our kuldevta. My mother-in-law had packed food for all of us to get us through the 20 hr train ride. It was to be chapatis and Alambe Buthi (Alambe is konkani for Mushroom and buthi is the semi-dry gravy). Now, I didn't like mushrooms and it was my firm opinion that konkani dishes taste good only with rice. I don't know what it was, the acquiescence of newly-found bahu-dom or the fact that the other choice was to eat Indian Railways food, I quietly ate the whole thing that was served to me. And voila, instant mushroom convert.

I learnt quite a few things that day , about new relationships, change, marriage and food. It is the food part that is more appropriate for this blog and that is what I am going to talk about. It became quite apparent to me that any new ingredient,when cooked like the food that you grew up with , went over much well than when cooked in some other method, however popular. Its a trick I have used with much of the veggies that are found here in the US that are not inherent to India. I am happy to report that all such experiments have been successes, some less than more, but successes nonetheless. Wow, too many ss's in that last sentence. try saying that 10 times in a row.

Anyway,have introduced my family to new veggies in such manner and once we have all become accustomed to its taste, moved on to its more popular versions. And , of course, being the mushroom convert that I am thanks to my dear mother-in-law, my refrigerator always has at least one of the varieties of mushroom in it at any given time. I cook mushrooms a lot of ways, but this has to be the first recipe that I share with you. So here goes. I cook these using the white mushrooms that are found in all grocery stores here.

Alambe Buthi …

1 cup mushrooms ,quartered

1 onion, finely chopped

Ginger 1' piece finely chopped

1 cup fresh grated coconut

8 roasted dry red chillies

1/2 tsp tamarind paste

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp coconut oil

salt to taste.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Cook the mushrooms with onion and ginger till the water dries out. While it is cooking , grind together grated coconut, chillies, tamarind and coriander seeds coarsely in a blender. Add water only if required . Once the water from the mushrooms has dried out, add the ground masala and salt. Stir and cook till it all blends together and any water that has been added to the masala dries up. Remove from flame and pour the other tbsp of raw oil over the cooked mushrooms.Serve with chapatis or as a side dish with rice and dal.