My Dad’s ‘Not-Mutton’ Mushroom Curry

A spicy Indian curry with mushrooms and coconut made in the Konkani style from western India. This recipe is based on a mutton curry my dad made when we were kids and to me it really is the ultimate vegan comfort food. It’s also vegan, nut-free, gluten-free and soy-free.

Overhead closeup photo of my dad's not-mutton mushroom curry in a karahi with cilantro garnish and a spoon.

My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry has lived on this blog since its infancy. I am resharing it today, and the rest of this post much as I had written it so many years ago, in memory of my father who passed away last week.

Dad stood apart from men of his generation in many ways (you can read more about him on my Facebook post), one of those being his willingness to help my mother around the kitchen–something men in India rarely did at the time. He was also a good cook in his own right and a mutton curry he made so lovingly for the family each Sunday was the highlight of our weekends.

The mutton curry was made in the style of Karwari konkani cuisine–Karwar being a beautiful coastal city in the south Indian state of Karnataka where Dad’s family came from. Dad would do most of the work, right from buying the mutton (goat’s meat) in the morning to actually cooking it, as well as supervising everyone in the household who had some role to play in the actual preparation.

My job was peeling a whole bulb of garlic and grating two kinds of coconut, fresh and dry. I hated both jobs: the juices from the garlic set my fingernails on fire, and I don’t remember a time when I didn’t grate my hand along with the coconut!

Front photo of my dad's mushroom curry in a karahi with cilantro and a spoon with ladi pav bread rolls and lemon wedges next to it.

But I did love that curry. I can close my eyes and still see Dad standing over a two-burner stove in our Bombay kitchen, carefully roasting the spices and then grinding them to perfection in a little blender. He loved making that curry, just as much as we loved eating it.

After turning vegetarian, I sometimes would crave the spices in my dad’s mutton curry and that’s why I came up with this not-mutton mushroom curry. I make it with the exact masalas Dad used, but because I use veggies instead of meat, I get to skip several steps involving marinating and tenderizing the meat.

I use two kinds of mushrooms in this recipe, fresh crimini and dry shiitake, which I reconstitute. The mix adds lots of flavor and texture. You can use other kinds of mushrooms, and you can also use eggplants. I swear you will not miss the meat in this curry, and even meat-eaters I’ve served it to love its robust flavors. 

The curry is perfect either with brown or white rice or with any kind of Indian bread. We would eat the curry with rice or a soft roll called a pav, tearing pieces of the bread with our fingers and dunking it into the curry. You can just use a storebought dinner roll of something like this soft sourdough roll.

I hope you will try this curry and love it as much as we have, in memory of the man who taught me how to cook with love.

This one is for you, dearest Dad.

Try these recipes next:

Closeup photo of my dad's not mutton mushroom curry in a karahi with cilantro garnish, mushrooms, potatoes and a spoon.

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