In Kashmiri haddar means mushrooms and yakhni is a yogurt infused stock. In this dish mushrooms are first simmered with the warmly aromatic spices of Kashmiri cuisine to make a rich broth. Tangy yogurt is then added and the mushrooms are braised until tender in this sumptuously spiced sauce. Savory mint and a sprinkle of black cumin top off this traditional dish from the vale of Kashmir.
Mushrooms are actually quite common in Himalayan cuisines. The vast forests of the Himalayas are home to many different varieties of edible wild mushrooms like morels, oyster mushrooms, and various types of straw mushrooms. Traditionally, Himalayan peoples have dried the various types of mushrooms for later use as well as eaten them fresh in several delicious ways. Commercial mushroom farming has only recently become popular on the Indian Subcontinent making fresh mushrooms widely available and affordable in markets.
For this recipe I've used button mushrooms farmed locally here in Nepal by a women's cooperative. I've seen this recipe prepared in Kashmir with different mushrooms gathered in the forest. Morels prepared in this manner are considered a delicacy and usually only prepared at Wazwan wedding feasts. Whatever mushroom you choose will work in this tasty recipe.
1/2kg/1lb mushrooms, caps sliced into quarters
1 TBS cooking oil
2 TBS ghee or butter
5 black peppercorns/kali mirch
2 tsp ground coriander
1 inch piece of cassia bark or cinnamon stick
2 black cardamom/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
5 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
1/2 tsp shahi jeera/black cumin
2 tsp dried mint/pudina
Grind to smooth paste for sauce:
1/2 C yogurt/dahi
1/2 tsp flour/maida or cornstarch/corn flour (this will keep your yogurt from splitting)
1/2 tsp dry ginger/soonth
1/2 tsp ground fennel/saunf
1/4 C diced onion
1 tsp garlic
Here's what to do:
1) Cut cleaned mushroom caps into quarters. Try to get the mushroom pieces about the same size. Set aside.
|See how larger mushrooms are quartered but smaller mushrooms are left whole.|
Try to make sure the mushroom pieces are all about the same size.
3) In large heavy bottomed skillet, kadhai, or pressure cooker - heat oil, butter or ghee and one teaspoon salt. Fry peppercorns, coriander, cassia bark, cloves, black cardamoms, and green cardamoms for 2 minutes.
|My spices are foaming because I used butter, ghee will not foam like this.|
5) Add yogurt mixture from step 2 to the cooled mushrooms and spices. Stir well and return to heat.
5) If using pressure cooker seal lid and steam for two whistles. If using skillet or kadhai simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and oil has separated from the sauce.
6) Remove from heat and salt to taste. Sprinkle shahi jeera and crumble dried mint over dish and serve.
Kashmiri curd or yogurt is quite sour and made from cow's milk because Kashmir is too cold for water buffaloes. Be sure to use a full fat and sour yogurt like the Greek style yogurt available in the West to get a similar flavor.
If you don't have shahi jeera/black cumin just leave it out. It adds a slight crunch and herbal note to the final dish that can't be replicated by anything else.