Every year I await the monsoons excitedly not only because it brings out the green new blush on the earth but also because it brings with it its own gifts. And for me it is this hidden pot of gold that I relish. What I am referring to is a type of mushrooms that only grow at the first lightening. As this seems to be known only to the locals and is found only in heavily wooded land there does not seem to be much literature or images about it on the internet. They are called as kallu alembi in kannada/konkani and look like tiny eggs. They need to be dug out and are fully covered in dirt but once you wash it all off you see an ivory white membrane that is easily removable. Once this is removed what you get is a lovely white ball type mushroom which can make an exotic ingredient to cook with. Here is a snap of them:
A word of caution is that these mushrooms get spoiled immediately and sometimes are spoilt even when they are dug out. This must be because their lifetime must be 2 days. An indicator of this is if the mushroom is black in color when you open it up or if its not solid but runny.
These mushrooms are available in udupi/mangalore but the prices rocket every year. But this is an ingredient no true blood konkani can live without :p
So now that we have cleaned them up what do we do with them? Well this is an versatile ingredient as it takes on the taste of the spices that it is cooked with. And I have tried making a chinese dish out of them which did turn out good but not as fabulously delicious like the typically curry we make out of them So here is the recipe:
Kallu Alembi Curry:
1 bowl of kallu alembi
1 cup grated coconut
4 red chillies
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 inch tamarind ball
2 pods garlic
1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
salt to taste
1 cup chopped onion
Recipe: Make a paste of the coconut,garlic,tamarind,coriander seeds,red chillies. Keep aside.
Keep an utensil with enough capacity to hold the curry on medium flame. Pour the oil in it and add the chopped onions. Fry till they are translucent.
Onions are an important part of this curry as they add their sweetness to the curry and take it to the next level. Same goes for the coconut oil. Though we normally use refined oil for cooking there are occasions like this where only coconut oil will add its flavour to the dish and nothing else will do. More importantly it is this fragrance of the coconut oil frying which makes the curry smell more inviting.
When the onions are done add the mushrooms and saute for a minute. Now simply pour the coconut paste that we have prepared and add the salt. Let this curry come to a boil. You will know when the curry is done when you get this inviting fragrance of the curry and it fills the room and your mouth starts watering:)
This is perfect when served with rice.