My hubby’s grandmother often used to talk about some lost Sindhi recipes and the way vegetables and other ingredients lack the original flavors. She would rant about the ‘not so fragrant’ fenugreek leaves, insipid spinach and flavorless ghee and would compare it with the quality of ingredients that were available in the past. She would frown at the sight of lack luster parathas and would ask for a dollop of ghee or white butter to bring parathas to life. Her ‘old food’ stories would often be about the succulent meat curries, exotic ‘sand-pit-cooked’ fishes, Doli ji roti (a fried poori made from fermented spiced up broth and stuffed with Bengal gram) and dhingri (dried mushrooms/morrels) curries.
When the readers of my blog would ask me about some lesser known recipes from Sindhi cuisine she would pitch in and with a twinkle in her eyes and nostalgic memories in her heart she would describe the way these exotic dishes were cooked, back in Sindh, in undivided India. She would tell how the dhingri or morrels were considered as a delicacy back then (they still are precious and rare to find) and how in the absence of fresh ones, dried regular mushrooms could be used to make Sindhi style mushroom curry. Her mushroom curry would have oil/ghee floating and it would have strong meaty flavors.
She would also talk about Khumbyun and I never knew that those were actually different from the button mushrooms available around, until recently when Hitesh Rajai enlightened me about it. Khumbyun or Podaxis Pistillaris is a mushroom variety available for a really short time during season, in some selected parts of India. I am yet to conclude whether Khumb/ khumbi refers to any type of mushrooms or it is the Podaxis Pistillaris. Anyways I was really curious to recreate the flavors of exotic mushroom curry using the Khumbhyun irrelevant of what it is actually known as . And generous as he is (Remember the guy who sent me Mango ginger and Bhavnagri mirchis?) Hitesh immediately couriered me a parcel with more than a Kilo of these divine khumbyun. The wait was stressful but thankfully the mushrooms survived the heat, humidity, and manhandling in its long aerial and road journey from Bhavnagar to Mumbai.
When he described the taste of the khumbyun ji bhaji that his sister makes, I couldn’t resist the urge to call her up. His elder sis, Bharti di, was more than happy to share her recipe which I followed to a T. Trust me when I say, it was one hell of flavor- packed curry, the taste of which will haunt you for a long long time..or at least till you get lucky to lay your hands on these exotic mushrooms again.
Thank you Hitesh, for taking all the troubles to make sure that the Khumbyun land at my home without any damage and thank you Bharti Didi for sharing your recipe and loads of tips to store and cook these mushrooms in various ways.
You can cook this dish using any kind of fresh or dried mushrooms. The term Dhaag mein refers to the gravy cooked with browned onions and tomatoes and it is a very basic kind of Sindhi gravy.
Kindly note that these mushrooms are different from the button mushrooms available in the markets. Unlike button mushrooms, these wont oxidize (turn black) when rinsed with water or left in open after cutting. You have to scrap Khumbyun to get rid of outer brownish skin and rinse well with water to get rid of mud or grit. Pat dry with kitchen towel and slice as you wish. To store, just pack the sliced mushrooms in an airtight container and place it inside the freezer.
- Mushrooms 12-14
- Onions 3 large
- Tomato 1
- Green chilies 2-3
- Ginger 1”
- Tej patta 1
- Turmeric powder ½ tsp
- Coriander powder 1 tsp
- Garam masala powder 1 tsp or less
- Salt as per taste
- Oil 2 tbsp
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Rinse well with water and scrap the skin of Khumbyun. (If using button mushrooms, clean with kitchen cloth to get rid of dirt and grit.)
- Cut mushrooms horizontally into 2 or 4 pieces or slice as desired.
- Finely chop onions, tomato, ginger and chilies.
- In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp of oil (or more if you want smooth gravy) and add chopped onions.
- Sauté on medium flame till onions are brown (caramelized). Add chopped tomato, chilies, ginger and cook on high heat for a minute or so.
- Add a cup of hot water and close the lid of cooker. After the first whistle, lower the flame and let the contents cook under pressure for 5-7 minutes.
- Put off the flame and let the cooker cool down. Once the pressure is released, whisk the gravy using wooden whisk (Mandhiyaro), till homogenous.
- Add mushrooms, salt, tejpatta followed by turmeric, coriander powder and garam masala powder and mix well. Add 2 cups of hot water and again close the lid of cooker. Cook for 3-4 whistles or lower the flame after first whistle, and cook under pressure for 10 minutes.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve Khumbyun ji Bhaji with roti or as a side with Dal and rice.