Steering away from carb and fat-heavy meals is the order of the day. Small portions of healthy food appeal better across demographic groups, and even a typical food-centered festival is sized down to the extent that satisfaction comes from quality, and not quantity. The whole idea of finger food is in line with the thought that one eats for nourishment and not to fill the stomach to the brim. We’re big fans of that school of thought and appetizers are a favorite with us – while the Russian caviar and Turkish mezze have their place in the grander scheme of culinary traditions – stuffed mushrooms have always scored big on the Thanksgiving table.
Our recipe uses millets, infused with diverse flavors. The versatility of millets, to lend themselves to the richness of the spices and yet hold their own, adds so much in terms of texture and taste to this recipe, and it’s a refreshingly welcome change from the run-of-the-mill stuffing ingredients. Whether you make these as a pre-cursor to a simple and elegant Thanksgiving meal, or as part of a big line up of bite-sized delicacies to tide you over until dessert time, they are so good that you can rest assured you won’t have any leftovers.
Happy Thanksgiving from our families to yours!
- 200g button mushrooms
- 1/2 cup millets, any variety
- 1 tablespoon oil plus more for cooking the mushrooms
- whole spices – 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 green cardamoms and 1 star anise
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 cup chopped roasted walnuts
- Cucumber, red bell pepper and lemon wedges for serving
- Wipe the mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove the stems. If necessary, use a paring knife to remove some of the mushroom flesh around the base of the stem to make room for more filling. Chop up the mushroom stems and set aside.
- To make the filling – rinse the millets, drain well and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a small pressure pan.
- Add the whole spices and saute on low heat.
- Tip in the chopped onions. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and then cook on medium heat until the onions start to brown. Add the chopped mushroom stems and saute until everything caramelises.
- Add the ginger garlic paste to the pan and saute until the raw smell disappears.
- Add the salt, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander and cumin powders and stir well.
- Add the millets and 1 cup of water to the pan. Stir.
- Pressure cook until the millets are done – reduce the heat after the first whistle and cook on low heat for 3 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the pressure release on its own. Fluff up the millets with a fork and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Remove and discard the whole spices. Stir in the walnuts, if using.
- Stuff the mushrooms with the cooked millets, pressing them in well and mounding the stuffing a little.
- Lightly grease a paniyaram/abelskiver pan or non-stick frying pan. Place the mushrooms in the pan without crowding, stuffing side up. Drizzle a few drops of oil all around.
- Once the mushroom bottoms brown, carefully turn them and cook the other side until crusted and brown.
- Serve hot with chutneys of your choice, lemon wedges and crisp slices of salad vegetables to add some colour to the dish.
Note: We like cooking stuffed mushrooms in our cast iron paniyaram / abelskiver pan because it makes them crusty on a larger surface area. You can also use a regular frying pan or tava to cook them.