Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Khumban Te Mutter di Turri (Mushroom & Peas Curry)

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Until about 20 years ago, you couldn’t find fresh mushrooms in the Indian cities, but since then a virtual revolution in growing and distributing vegetables has led to their becoming readily available at not only most markets but even street vendors. The price of mushrooms have come down, but they are still not within reach of the average Indian.

Years ago, you would find the occasional fresh mushroom if you happened to come across them on a stroll. Most of them were grown in Kashmir but they were dried and then shipped to other cities. If you wanted to cook them, you had to leave them to soak in water for two hours before. The dried khumban (mushrooms), and a closely related variety called dhingri, are still widely available in most bazaars and markets in India, but their darkened color and texture produces a pungent smell when cooking and a slightly altered taste.

Using sun-dried sliced vegetables was – and continues to be – a common ingredient in India, though their smell while cooking can be overpowering. The taste though, of the cooked dish is quite delicious!

These days, you can find khumban and mutter (peas) on most menus in restaurants across North India and it is also a favorite curry made in Indian homes, to get away from the more common vegetable dishes like bhindi (okra), gobi (cauliflower), bhangan (eggplant) and karela (bitter gourd). It is a relatively easy dish to make, and all you need is to keep the peas handy in the freezer!

There is only one thing that you must make sure of when using mushrooms: clean them well by dipping in water as they can hold a lot of dirt in the top button. I prefer to clean them thoroughly with a damp paper towel as I don’t want to have to overcook the mushrooms in the extra steam from too much water.

 Ingredients :    
200 gm mutter (green peas) – frozen or fresh
250 gm khumban (mushrooms) – cut into halves
2 medium tamater (tomato) – soft ones are best, chopped
1 small pyaaz (onion) – peeled and finely chopped
½ teaspoon of lasan (garlic) powder (if desired)
1 small piece of adrak (ginger) – peeled and finely chopped
3 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi (turmeric), fresh dhania (coriander), garam masala

1. Cut off the ends of the mushrooms and clean them with a damp paper towel. If you prefer, you can quickly dip them in water and then make sure to dry the mushrooms off completely, leaving them on a towel for sometime to air out.
2. Cut the mushrooms in half and keep aside.
3.Shell the fresh peas and place in a bowl of water. If frozen, do not thaw.
4. Prepare the masala in a medium saucepan. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, then add the onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Stir well to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When the mixture is slightly brown, add the salt, pepper and haldi and stir well.
5. Throw in the peas and stir well to coat and cook for a few minutes. If frozen, then let the peas thaw out first before using and cook for 5 minutes. If fresh, then let the peas cook a little longer in the saucepan. Add the water and bring to a boil.
6. When the peas are a little tender, throw in the mushrooms, stir and let it cook for 5 minutes.
7. Turn the heat off, cover the saucepan and let it sit for five minutes.
8. Before serving, garnish the dish with garam masala and the shredded fresh dhania.



Many Indian homes have brass utensils which are used for ornamentation or perhaps to serve foods at parties. In India, brass was very commonly used well into the 60s and 70s in homes, but over time, brass has fallen out of favor and stainless steel utensils are used everywhere now. One of the drawbacks of brass was that you would have to occasionally get kalai or tinning in the insides as the brass reacts with the food and gives off a green coating.

In rural India, it is still easy to get a street hawker who will do this tinning and even polish the brass, but overseas it is practically impossible to get the tinning done and difficult to get the untensils polished. One easy way to clean the outsides and get them to shine is to mix lemon juice and a cleanser like Ajax in a bowl of water and let the item soak in it for a couple of hours if it is really dirty. Take out, scrub with a sponge or paper towel, then rinse off and let it dry.

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.