A Curry of Cashew nuts, Mushrooms and Puffed Lotus Seeds

I first came across the word makhana in Jiggs Kalra’s recipes but it wasn’t only recently that I used them in my cooking. Lotus seeds are pretty common in pickles but the puffed ones never really came my way.:) So when I saw the seed packets at Delhi’s INA market, I immediately picked up one. And the recipe that had been at the back of my mind for ages was finally created.
In the 90s, The Telegraph, one of our region’s popular newspapers, carried supplements of wonderful reads. And Jiggs Kalra’s food columns were my favourite! I’m glad I’ve kept most of the cuttings in the form of a scrap book. Culinary terms that I’m not really familiar with, are all there. It’s just that I didn’t go that deep into food back then. This recipe is adapted from a recipe called Kaju Khumb Makhana. It’s a combination of cashew nuts, mushrooms, and puffed lotus seeds. Fresh mushrooms are used in the recipe but I used the tinned ones. And the original recipe uses 600 grams of mushrooms.

100 grams whole cashew nuts
200 grams button mushrooms, drained
30 gram makhana
Groundnut oil to shallow fry makhana
50 grams ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
200 grams onions
1 and a half tsp ginger paste
1 and a half tsp garlic paste
2tsp black peppercorns
100 gram yoghurt
3 tbsp coriander powder
One and a half tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
One and a half cups tomato puree
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
A quarter teaspoon of mace powder
1 tbsp lemon juice (or 1 tbsp honey)

Soak the cashew nuts in a panful of lukewarm water and drain.
If using fresh mushrooms, slice off the earthy base of the stalks  and wash to remove grit. Boil water, add 1 tbsp lemon juice, blanch for 5-6 minutes, drain and refresh in chilled water unrtil ready to cook.
As for the makhana, heat oil in a pan, add the seeds, shallow fry over medium heat until they puff up. Remove and reserve in a panful of water until ready to cook.
The vegetables: Peel, wash, and finely chop onions. Clean, wash and chop coriander.
The yoghurt: Whisk yoghurt in a bowl,add coriander, Kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric and whisk to homogenise.

  • Heat ghee in a pan,add cumin, stir over medium heat until it begins to pop, add onions, saute till translucent, add the ginger and garlic pastes and stir fry till the onions are golden. Add black pepper and stir for a few seconds.
  • Now add the mushrooms, fry for a few minutes, add the yoghurt mixture, fry until the fat leaves the sides, add tomato puree and salt. Add one and a half cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce to low heat, add cashew nuts and makhana, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes.
  • Uncover, sprinkle the cardamom and mace powders, stir and cook, stirring constantly until the gravy is of sauce consistency. Remove, add lemon juice (or honey if the tomatoes are too sour). Adjust the seasoning.
  • Remove to a serving dish and serve with Indian flatbreads like phulka or tandoori roti.

The only ingredient I left out was black cardamom/motti elaichi powder. As for the dish, the look and the taste was worth the time and the effort in cooking it.

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