What’s your favourite way of ringing in the New Year? Mine is having my family with me, being thankful for all our big and small blessings, watching a funny movie together and sharing warm food in the cozy comfort of our own home. Somehow this simple ritual reassures me that the coming year will be safe, happy and prosperous.
A family-friendly, heartwarming meal is an important part of our celebration but I like to keep it quick n easy so that I don’t get too tired in the kitchen to enjoy the evening. The meal consists of a simple starter, like a delicious dip and some light, crispy finger food to go with it. It can be anything from grilled prawns to black pepper papadums – something that won’t kill the appetite for the main course.
Main course is usually a hearty curry with steamed rice, our family’s favourite combination for cold winter nights. This year, to my delight, my teenage daughter has decided to prepare the main course for our dinner. She has been so busy with her studies and debates club schedule this entire year that it’s quite a treat in itself for us that she is cooking something for the family, and not just anything but our very favourite spicy mushroom curry. This Punjabi style curry with an onion and tomato puree and a few basic spices is one the easiest and most delicious things you can cook for a cosy family meal or to please a big crowd. You can add a few bell peppers, peas or any other of your favourite vegetables too to this Spicy Mushroom curry to make it more filling.
We love to end our meal with a chocolate flavoured dessert, mostly cup cakes with sparklers on them for a fun sweet bite to bid farewell to the year going out and welcome the one coming in.
1+1/2 cups button mushrooms
1 onion, sliced
3 tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger
2 green bell peppers, cut into cubes
2 black cardamoms
4-5 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon ground red chilli
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
salt to taste
2/3 cup yogurt
3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
Garam masala (mixed spice blend) for seasoning
Fresh coriander for garnish
This Is What You Do:
Heat oil in a deep pan. Fry onions till golden.
Remove onions from oil with a slotted spoon. Add fried onions, chopped tomatoes, yogurt, garlic, ginger, ground red chillies, ground cumin, ground coriander and salt to an electric blender or food processor. Make a smooth puree.
Add the puree back to the pan. Add whole spices. Cook on medium heat till the curry is darker, more reddish brown, in colour and oil separates from masala. Stir often during cooking so that the masala doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Curries with yogurt in them burn more easily.
Add button mushrooms and bell peppers. Add half cup water. Cover the pan and allow to simmer on medium low heat for 5 minutes or till the bell peppers are crisp tender.
Remove from heat. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and season with Garam masala (optional).
Serve hot with roti or rice.