In search of a good vegetarian Stroganoff - Mushroom Stroganoff

I have been glued and addicted to watching Masterchef Australia on Star World. It is the classiest reality show to be aired on Indian television, in my humble opinion, of course. Trolls, please excuse. What's a vegetarian's interest in watching this predominantly meat based show, you may wonder. It is the passion for food, the techniques, the presentation, the tips given by the stalwarts in the field, that make this show very endearing to the foodie in me.
When a couple of weeks ago, they made the Beef Stroganoff in an elimination challenge, I liked the way the dish had layers of flavour to it. I just had to find the right substitute to the beef and serve it with some plain steamed rice or spaghetti.
Also, I had to look around for authentic paprika, which is essential to this Eastern Europen dish. Some of the Indian spice brands sell spice bottled as paprika, but it is essentially just chilli powder. Finally, I found this real paprika, in the Waitrose aisle of Hypercity. Pricey, but authentic and the husband egged me on to put it our trolley and take it home.
Here are some of the recipes that I found good to try out -

Mushroom Stroganoff with mustard and chive mash
from The Vegetarian Society
Rose Eilot’s Mushroom Stroganoff from The Guardian
Vegetarian mushroom stroganoff from Mushrooms.Canada website - which is the one I adapted.

I had some fresh button mushrooms, dried oyster mushrooms and another variety of large sized dried mushrooms that our friend had gotten us from Bangkok. Combining the three, I had a good mix of flavours and textures to proceed with a recipe.
My Version of Mushroom Stroganoff
Adapted from Mushrooms.canada
Serves 3-4 people
1/2 cup of dried oyster mushrooms or any other dried mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves finely minced garlic
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp of dried thyme
1/2 tsp of fresh marjoram or 1 tsp dried marjoram (optional)
10-12 sliced button mushrooms (upto 200 grams)
1/3 cup tomato puree
1 vegetarian stock cube (I used Maggi seasoning cubes)
30-45 ml of brandy or sherry or red wine
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp paprika (substitute with Kashmiri Chilli powder if you cant find paprika)
1/2 cup sour cream 
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt or to taste

To serve
3-4 cups of steamed rice or Spaghetti cooked according to instructions and tossed in olive oil with some dried or fresh herbs

First, wash the dried mushrooms under running water and then soak in 1-2 cups of hot water, cover the vessel and keep aside for 10 minutes. You can either snip the soaked mushrooms under the water or drain them and chop into even sized pieces. Do NOT throw away the water in which they were soaked as it is full of flavour and we will be using it later to build the sauce of the stroganoff. 

  1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, fresh thyme and marjoram. Saute on medium heat, till they are soft.
  2. Add the chopped fresh and rehydrated mushrooms, stir well to mix with the aromatics. Let this cook on medium flame till nearly done, say 5-7 minutes. 
  3. Add the tomato puree and cook it off for 2-3 minutes on high flame.
  4. Add the stock cube, the water in which the mushrooms were soaked. Cover and let this simmer till the mushrooms are soft, for about 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add the brandy, mustard, paprika. Make a slurry of cornstarch in a little cold water and add it to the simmering stroganoff along with the sour cream. Add some water if you think the sauce is drying out. Add salt and let this simmer for 5 minutes until all the flavours infuse into the mushrooms. 
  6. The final dish should be a stew of very flavourful mushrooms in a good quantity of thickish sauce that you can eat the rice / spaghetti with.

I was tasting stroganoff for the first time and I quite loved it. I had prepared this in the afternoon and by dinner time, the flavours had intensified. It went perfectly well with the mild spaghetti. The husband relished it thoroughly too. Will I be making this again? You bet, I will.

Making sour cream at home
Collect the cream from the top of boiled and cooled milk for 3-4 days and storing it in freezer. Once you have half a cup of cream, remove this in a cup and add a tsp of yogurt to it and mix well. The cream will sour in 5-6 hours, depending on the weather. Keep it for longer if the weather is quite chilly. Refrigerate the sour cream in an airtight container for a day or so, until use or in freezer if you are not going to use it soon.

Shopping for ingredients in Hyderabad

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