Tikka Mushrooms (vegetarian)
Halfway up the foothills of the Indian Himalayas on the way to Shimla, summer playground of the British Raj, we stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant. Having struggled through monsoon-destroyed roads, unfinished red-mud roadworks and past accidents caused by drivers unable to wait in queues, we were frazzled and frustrated. Our spirits were revived by a simple and excellent meal, as so often in India. We had butter-naan – now recalled with inappropriate desire, dripping with butter and dough meltingly soft; fragrant makhani dhal - yes, I know the cream content makes it a calorie bomb, who cares? I went on ordering the brown lentil concoction everywhere I could; - and this light and fresh plate of mushroom tikka. I remember the welcome we got in that little restaurant; the concerned waiter rushing to get us a cool drink, the calming view of precipitous green valleys from the back window, the comfortable seat after the sticky jeep. Oddly enough, the rest of the journey was much nicer after our stop – the effect of the food, or just nearer to the vision that is Shimla?
I’m sure the genuine recipe is more complex, but here’s my re-creation of that lovely dish, and it is now an easy family lunch favourite.
Serves 4. Timings: preparation 10 minutes, an hour marinade, 20 minutes cooking
Mix the yoghurt, tikka paste and lime juice thoroughly – you will get a nice red cool yoghurt slurry.
Prepare the mushrooms – I prefer to peel them and take off the ends of the stalks, but if you’d rather just wipe them to remove any dirt from the culture medium, then fine. Add the mushrooms to the marinade, mix well to cover them with the yoghurt and leave for an hour. Take the dog for a walk.
Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
Take the mushrooms out of the yoghurt and thread them onto metal skewers. Put on a tray in the oven for 20 minutes – turn every now and then to make sure all sides are cooked.
Serve either on the skewers or on a plate, with pillowy buttered naan if you don’t care about your waistline and want to remember India again, or maybe a simple green salad.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.