It often occurs to me that memories are such strange stuff!I find it bewildering enough,that all the years I have spent on this earth now,I have been doing something or the other every milli and microsecond.I will not say that I remember everything but yet,there are things that give a peek now and then,completely upstaging me at times!
For the first job that I ever had,I had to travel quite far away from my own home city to a neighboring state.The state was Orissa (a state in India renowned for its rich cultural heritage)and the city was Bhubaneswar.Emerging from the everyday chaos that is Kolkata,Bhubaneswar seemed to be a sleepy,peaceful city where the hustle and bustle swarmed just around the railway station and maybe just a couple of places like Rajmahal Chhak,Master Canteen and Kalpana Square.For us,these places would be reluctant substitutes for Nandan,Park Street or Esplanade...but nevertheless,our much-wanted weekend jaunts,on those bleary weekends when we would not have packed ourselves off to Kolkata on the Friday night Puri Express or Chennai Mail,either to impose a self-restraint on our purse strings(which would anyway go loose within a few weeks time!) or give company to a friend in need,who would have been bogged down with some damned ghoulish assignment at work.
During our trips round the city,I would often notice wobbly makeshift wooden tables by the roadside,with transparent packets of something arranged in neat rows on the table.Be it sunshine or rain,the owner of the tables would stay put on equally wobbly stools and vend away the packets.It seemed like the packets housed something really interesting...they would fly off the tables in minutes!Having garnered a curiosity for quite sometime,I eventually queried a friend and found out that the fare on sale was actually mushrooms!I got to know that mushrooms are very popular as a food item all across Orissa and more so,as a proteinaceous 'veg' substitute for any kind of meat.It was news to me,since in Kolkata,mushroom is a so-called exotic item and culinary trysts with mushrooms do not happen every other day in the common householder's kitchen.
Now when I was talking of memories,I was talking of this mushroomy memory coming back to me last evening.Without much ado,a packet of button mushrooms soon found way into my kitchen and off I went,rattled away in haste for a spicy Chilli Mushroom culmination!(Psst...I might well confess that is neither the original nor the traditional way of cooking it...I just happened to rustle this up for my friends and they liked it lots!I'm still on the lookout for tastier versions...till then mine is all I can offer:))
Spicy Chilli Mushroom(Serves 4)
You will need:
Button mushrooms - About 300 gms;sliced.The already-sliced mushrooms available in stores will also be good.
Onion - 2 whole onions,finely chopped
Ginger - About 2-3 cloves,finely chopped
Capsicum - Finely chopped
Spring Onions - 10-12 sprigs;finely chopped
Green chillies - Finely chopped
Cornflour - About 2 heaped tablespoons
Red Chilli powder
Salt and sugar as per taste
Soy Sauce - 4 tablespoons
Tomato Ketchup - 2 tablespoons
Cooking oil(Canola or vegetable oil)
How to cook:
1.Wash the sliced mushrooms well under running water and dry them on a kitchen napkin.In a bowl,take the cornflour,red chilli powder,salt and about 2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce and mix well.Next add in the mushrooms to this marinade,and store in the freezer for about 20-30 mins.
2.In a wok,heat about 2 tablespoons of oil and add the marinated mushrooms.Fry till a golden brown tinge appears and remove on a kitchen napkin.
3. To the same oil,add the green chillies,finely chopped garlic and ginger and stir.Next add the onions and capsicum and cook till the onions become translucent and pink.
3.Now add a little sugar and salt,and after a good mix,add the fried mushrooms kept aside earlier.By this time,the onions will have caramelized slightly,letting out a reddish hue to the whole concoction.Add in the tomato ketchup and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce.Mix them all well.
4.When the spices are nicely browned,add just a little water to blend in the spices well and sprinkle the chopped spring onions on top.Put off the heat,so that the spring onions are not cooked and retain their green color and crisp.Voila!!Your Chilli Mushoom is ready to serve!
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