Vegan Mushroom Tikka Masala

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I had a tall order for our Diwali dinner. With 3 compassionate eaters (read: vegan) at home, surely vegan dishes were in order. It was much easier than I anticipated. I'm not much of a roti maker, so rice was a done deal. Here I made Kichdi rice, made with mung beans. Then the rest ... believe it or not, was colour based. Because I was artistically inclined and because they look pretty in pictures. LOL!

This was my vegan Diwali spread in full glory, clockwise from top left: Hyderabadi Keema which was a rich earthy brown, Khichdi Rice, Papad, Navratan Korma which provided a visual treat with vibrant accents on a bright yellow, Mushroom Tikka Masala was a choice for orange/red and Sai Bhaji, a spinach stew provided the greenery.

When I decided to put a tikka masala on the menu, the question was what protein to make it with? The first option was tofu, since of course, paneer was not vegan. But then my bff (google) gave me an idea ... mushrooms. Duh! of course! and why not? Mushrooms are earthy, meaty and have that distinct umami flavour just like ... well, almost like meat. And mushrooms it was to be.

At first glance, this recipe does look tedious, but divide and conquer is always an option. First we marinate the mushrooms and soak the cashews. Part two involves cooking the mushrooms and blending the tomato cashew paste. Then it's just making the gravy and putting it all together. Even if you did the first two parts the day before, and refrigerated them, it really doesn't matter.

Preparation is half the battle and having a plan of attack is crucial. That is how I manage multiple dishes in a sitting.
Dinner - 4 days: All the recipes are written on cardstock, recycled of course, about 3-4 days prior. I make a shopping list.
D - 3: Shop. Think about plating and presentation, make notes on the recipe card.
D - 2: Start cleaning. If not the house, just the table then. Dig your serving plates from the depths of kitchen storage.
D - 1: Prep all the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes etc, separating them in different bowls accordingly. Make sauces or gravies, if possible. Cover and refrigerate.
D - day: Start cooking, have some wine, cook some more, check out FB, cook again, more wine, plate, take pictures, and sit down and enjoy. Uh oh! Time to open another bottle ;)

Marinated mushrooms
500 g mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
4 tbsp coconut cream
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 tsp ajwain (caraway) seeds
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Tomato Cashew Paste
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup boiling water
3 large tomatoes, chopped

Tikka Masala
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
2 green chilies
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
1/2 cup water (or a bit more if you prefer more gravy)
salt, to taste
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp kasoori methi (fenugreek leaves)
3 tbsp coconut cream
cilantro, to serve

Marinated mushrooms
1. Marinate the mushrooms with the rest of the ingredients.
2. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
3. Cook the mushrooms in a non-stick fry pan with a little oil, if needed.
Do not cook the mushrooms with the marinade. Do not discard the leftover marinade.
4. Transfer to a bowl or plate.

Tomato Cashew Paste
1. Soak the raw cashews in boiling water, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Place soaked cashews with water and chopped tomatoes in a high speed blender and blend to a smooth paste.

Tikka Masala
1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan, then sweat the onions until translucent.
2. Add the ginger and garlic, and stir fry until fragrant.
3. Add the chopped bell peppers and the sliced green chilies, along with the turmeric, coriander, cumin and Kashmiri chili powder.
4. Pour in the tomato cashew paste along with the leftover marinade, and water.
5. Stir well to combine, bring to a boil, add the cooked mushrooms, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
6. Add salt to taste, and possibly a bit more chili powder if you're up to it.
7. Stir in the garam masala, fenugreek leaves and coconut cream.
8. Serve with a few sprigs of cilantro on top.

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