y earliest encounter with mushrooms happened when, as a child, was pretty pictures of them in my storybooks. Pretty little fairies would be sitting on them or else a whole bunch of them would be dancing inside a magical ring of them deep in a leafy forest.
I remember seeing pictures of pretty mushroom houses in many of story books including ones by Enid Blyton which formed the bulk of my recreational reading as a young child. Brownies and elves in colourful mushroom houses which had windows and doors in the trunk of the mushroom which were invariably topped with red caps and white polka dots! Even my Noddy books didn’t escape them.
I could never understand why anyone would want to eat such an unappetising looking thing and a fungus at that? Of course, there’s no rhyme or reason why people across the world eat whatever they do, other than it grows around them and at some time they must have discovered that these things were edible and did not kill them! Sure there’s a lot of “good” fungus out there, but in my book, fungus is fungus and I’m not likely to change my mind about that! And since my husband feels the same way about this, mushrooms were never ever on our shopping lists.
Unfortunately for both of us, our daughter discovered that she was rather partial to mushrooms and almost as much as she was to paneer. So every time we ate out when she was younger, it meant that she would search the menu for paneer dishes and mushroom dishes and then order one or the other though paneer did win over mushrooms more often than not. Of course, she would never be able to finish the portions and while we could manage to help her finish the paneer, we would balk at the mushroom.
Then at some point, she lost her single-minded affection for mushroom and we heaved silent sighs of relief. For a long time, all was quiet on the mushroom front until sometime a couple of months back, our daughter came vegetable shopping with me to our local market. There were button mushrooms everywhere and she thought it would be perfect if we bought some home so that I could cook them for her.
I indulged her, against my better judgement (we might have to eat the leftovers again!) and decided to stuff the mushrooms and the cook them Tandoori style. If we did have to eat mushrooms, might as well eat it heavily disguised by stuffing it, marinating it and then serving it with other more flavoursome ingredients – that was my reasoning behind picking this recipe.
Shashlik is Turkish/Russian type of kebab, also popular is some countries of Eastern Europe. Usually meat like lamb is skewered and served with assorted grilled vegetables. In fact, Shahlik is a sort of Shish Kebab, and the word “Shish” means in skewer in Turkish. It is cooked in Northern parts of India as well, and probably came in with the Mughal invaders who came to Indian from Persia and thereabouts.
My recipe is a vegetarian version and more of an Indian style Shashlik with mushrooms and paneer (Indian fresh milk cheese) and very Indian flavours. The mushrooms are cleaned, the stalks removed and then the depressions are filled with a potato filling before marinating them in flavoured yogurt.
I used what I had on hand to make this kebab which was onions, yellow, green and red bell peppers, and paneer cubes. Pineapple, cherry tomatoes and cauliflower florets are also good options for this Shashlik. If you have a grill or barbecue that uses charcoal, then that’s the best way to grill these because of the lovely smoky flavour you get. Otherwise just cook it in the oven/ grill like I did.
I am sending the monochrome photographs in this post to Jasmina who is hosting the 87th edition of Susan's Black & White Wednesdays now being co-ordinated by Cinzia.Tandoori Style Stuffed Mushroom Shashlik/ Kebabs
1 box button mushrooms (about 12 medium sized mushrooms)1 tsp lemon juice1 tsp + 2 tsp oil1 each red, yellow and green bell peppers cut into 1” pieces1 big onion, cut into 1” pieces100 to 150 gm paneer cut into 1” cubes
For the filling:1 small potato, boiled and mashed2 tbsp crumbled paneer (Indian milk cheese)1 long green chilly, deseeded and chopped fine1/2 tsp coriander powder1/2 tso cumin powder1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves6 cashewnuts, finely choppedSalt to taste
For the marinade:1/4 cup thick yogurt1/2 tsp red chilli powder1/2 tsp garam masala powder1/2 tsp ginger-garlic paste1/2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)Salt to taste
6 wooden skewers (soaked in water for about 20 minutes)
Method:Remove the stalks of the mushrooms and clean them well. Place a pan of water on the stove, add some salt and the lemon juice, and bring it to a boil. Drop the cleaned mushrooms into this and turn off the heat. Take the mushrooms out with a slotted spoon after 2 minutes, and let them drain.Mix together all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Stuff this into the mushrooms. Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick skillet and place the stuffed mushrooms, stuffed side down, and cook on low heat till the filling browns and crisps up a bit. Cook them only on one side, as this will seal the filling in. Take the mushrooms out and let them cool.Put all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and whisk lightly till smooth. Put the mushrooms in the marinade, the stuffed sides up, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you let the stuffed side sit in the marinade, it will soften and the mushroom and filling will fall apart. In the meanwhile, put the chopped bell peppers, onion, paneer and the other 2 tsp oil in a bowl and toss so the oil coats everything well.Take the wooden skewers out of the water and skewer the tossed vegetables, paneer and 2 marinated mushrooms on each skewer, ina any order of your preference.Grill the skewered vegetables and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, and then turn them and grill for another 5 minutes until the coating on the mushrooms dries out and both the mushrooms and paneer are a nice golden brown. The grilling times may differ from one grill to another, so keep an eye on the skewers.Serve warm with ketchup, dipping sauces or chutneys of your choice. This goes very well with Tzatziki. This recipe makes enough for 6 skewers. Otherwise you can serve this over steamed rice with a sauce/ gravy of your choice.