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Mushrooms in Cashew Cream Sauce

This image courtesy of Brave New Pictures, Inc.

This was the very first recipe I wrote and tested for this cookbook. I was in heaven using Cashew Cream as a substitute for regular cream. I served it at a dinner party, and my good friend Karen Lurie not only liked it—she had no idea it was vegan. You’ll fool your dinner guests too.

NotesSmall, whole mushrooms work best in this curry. If you can’t find small mushrooms, just buy the bigger ones and slice them in half. I opt for cremini here because they add much more flavor than white button mushrooms.

Cardamom (Eiaichi): Known as the queen of spices, green (hara) cardamom typically grows in southern India as pods on a six-foot-tall shrub. One of the most valued and costliest spices in the world, it contains twenty-five volatile oils. Key among these is cineole, which is also found in bay leaves. Cineole is being studied for its many benefits, which include aiding digestion, getting rid of bad breath, inhibiting the growth of ulcers, and preventing colon cancer. It’s the primary flavor in traditional Indian tea, well-spiced basmati rice, meat stews, and desserts like kheer. White cardamom is just green cardamom that has been chemically bleached. It’s used in Eastern European baking and in sauces where the color needs to be maintained. Black or brown cardamom (kali or bardi elaichi) is a large, woody-looking pod that is used in India to spice rice and meat dishes. I love its flavor in some of my lentil dishes, and I like to use it in my chai masala to help stifle a cough. Although the medicinal properties of black cardamom still need further research, my mother-in-law firmly believes that it helps prevent coughing. In my own experience, I’ve found that to be consistently true.

5 cups (1.19 L)

Cooking Methodsauteeing

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentblender

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturecreamy, garlicky, savory, spiced, umami

Type of Dishvegetable

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons (90 mL) Cashew Cream (see recipe below)
  • ½ cup (119 mL) water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 4 green cardamom pods, slightly crushed (see Notes)
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 1 (2 inch [5-cm]) cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 cassia leaves (or bay leaves)
  • 1 small yellow or red onion, peeled and minced ½ cup [75 g])
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated or minced
  • 2-3 pounds (.908-1.36 kg) small cremini mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed (8 cups [1.9 L])
  • ½ teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish
  • 1 cup (138 g) raw cashews, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1¼ cups (296 rnL) water

Instructions

  1. Make the Cashew Cream:

  2. Put the cashews in a powerful blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the water and blend on the highest speed until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. If it’s still too thick, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Use it as a base for a nondairy alfredo sauce, or drizzle over steamed veggies.

  3. Make the Mushrooms:

  4. Mix together the Cashew Cream, water, and salt. Set aside.

  5. In a deep, heavy pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

  6. Add the green and black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cassia leaves. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until aromatic.

  7. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until brown, 2 to 4 minutes.

  8. Add the mushrooms and cook for 6 minutes, until they soften, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

  9. Make a well in the middle of the mixture. Add the Cashew Cream mixture and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.

  10. Remove the whole spices. Add the red chile powder and garnish with the fresh cilantro or parsley. Serve immediately with brown or white basmati rice.

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