Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Sukki Khumban (Sauteed Mushrooms) – Quick Recipe


Most people like the taste of mushrooms, and even though they can be expensive, they are an often sought after ingredient on pizzas or as a side dish in restaurants. But these mushrooms are usually not fresh, coming out of a can or frozen and the taste is very ordinary. A popular variety is the small, round, pointy type called button mushrooms, usually sold in cans.

Most mushrooms available in stores are the white type (technical term: Agaricus bisporus) which are safe for most people to eat as they are grown in a sterilized, controlled environment, but other varieties are whites, crimini and portobello. Others that are cultivated are shiitake, maitake or hen-of-the-woods, oyster, and enoki. The small Mushrooms are neither meat nor vegetables but are known as the “meat” of the vegetable world.

Mushrooms are a low calorie food, an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B5 as well as selenium, copper, phosphorus and potassium, and contain no sodium or vitamin C.

Sun dried khumban (mushrooms) are also widely available in most bazaars and markets, but these are usually the type with larger caps. These are not as sought after because their dark color and texture gives a pungent smell when cooking and a slightly altered taste.

When cooking mushrooms, make sure of clean them well by dipping in water as they can hold a lot of dirt in the top cap but then, shake them and towel dry them as any extra water will turn to steam and overcook the mushrooms.


250 gm khumban (mushrooms)
1 tsp tamater paste (tomato paste)
1 medium pyaaz (onion
½ teaspoon of lasan (garlic) powder (if desired)
3 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), 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 some time to air out.
2. Cut the mushrooms in slices and keep aside.
3. Peel the onion, slice it and keep to the side.
4. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, then add the onions and brown them, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom. When the slightly brown, add the tomato paste, salt, pepper and garlic and stir well. The paste adds a bit of taste and color to the dish.
5. Throw in the mushrooms, stir and let it cook for 5 minutes.
6. Turn the heat off, cover the frying pan and let it sit uncovered.
7. Before serving, garnish the dish with garam masala and the shredded fresh dhania.



In many Indian homes the smell of the food can linger for a long time even hours after cooking, especially when making a curried dish like daals and chole. Since you can’t cook most Indian dishes without onions, it is usually the smell of onions – and sometimes garlic – that stays inside the home.

A lot of people cook in the traditional style of tadka – stir-frying the chopped onions, garlic and ginger in oil and all the spices in a small frying pan and then adding this to the curry. This often leaves a smell that lasts for hours. I usually just drop in the salt, turmeric, chopped onions, garlic and ginger into the curry while it is simmering. After it is cooked, I heat up the oil in a frying pan, add powdered coriander and red pepper, stir fry a little and then throw the mixture into the cooked daal. This way, there is no lingering food smell to worry about and the dish still tastes authentic.

mamas recipe inside3

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 (since renamed Faisalabad), 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.