Minced mushrooms make a wonderful ground meat substitute in Indian Kheema. This post has been sponsored by the Mushroom Council.
Guys, this is a sponsored post, but people can pay me to create mushroom recipes any time they want. I think you guys already know how much I love mushrooms–mushroom recipes pepper this blog. When I was pregnant with Alex, John and I spent hours–hours!!–discussing what our strategy would be to make sure our children liked mushrooms (and onions actually). Sometimes we asked what if…? But the alternative was too horrific to contemplate, so we figured in that case we would just cook with them anyway. When Kitchen Play asked me if I would be interested in writing about mushrooms and sharing a recipe for the Mushroom Council’s “Ode to the Mushroom” February, I could not hit reply fast enough! And if you are wondering, we are all obsessed with mushrooms. My kids often count the number of mushrooms in their dish and then argue about who got more and who got the biggest. So clearly this dish is a labor of love (not that it takes much labor) in my family. When I cook with mushrooms, I know my family will be excited. And when Sammy’s friend who was spending the night heard that it had mushrooms, she ate it enthusiastically as well! Clearly we are not alone in our love for the mushroom!
The requirements for this post were an amazing coincidence, because I actually had been thinking about this dish for a while now, long before I got the email from Kitchen Play. It all started with the big Indian meal I like to make for the in laws for the holidays. I have a tendency to over-do that meal, making too many different dishes. Amusingly, I often don’t even make as many as I have planned. And this year one of the casualties was an idea I had for a vegetarian kheema. A kheema is an Indian curry or dish that is traditionally made with ground meat. Often lamb in India, but really they can be made with any meat as far as I know and I have most often made kheema with ground beef. However, I already had 2 animal protein dishes planned–one beef and one shrimp, so I thought making a classic kheema would be overkill. But what about making it with minced, i.e., “ground” mushrooms instead?
The dish never came to pass, but then when I heard from Kitchen Play it turned out my day dreaming had been prescient because the 2 messages they wanted us to get across were making over classic dishes with mushrooms instead of meat, and also “the trend to blend,” i.e., replacing half of the ground meat in a dish with cooked minced mushrooms instead. I did indeed “blend” the ground beef and mushrooms in this dish, but I have no doubt that it could be made entirely with mushrooms for the vegetarians amongst you. And for the meat lovers, the mushrooms are an inexpensive way to stretch that ground beef, adding important nutrients like vitamin D, potassium, B vitamins and antioxidants, as well as more protein than I realized (2 grams per cup of sliced crimini), all with barely any calories. And I promise you that you will never even realize they are there if you have anyone hesitant about mushrooms in your life. As a matter of fact, my depression about that fact is why I also added sliced mushrooms to the dish! Around here we want to know our mushrooms are present! But you get the idea.
You will notice this dish is large. Honestly, that is because we love kheema around here and can eat it multiple nights in a row (which we did). If it is too big for you, just cut everything in half. But I am betting you will love it. It tastes even better leftover! I have some exciting news for you guys as well. The Mushroom Council has generously offered to give away to one of my readers a “Grow Your own Mushrooms” kit! In 10 days you could have fresh oyster mushrooms growing in your kitchen! And hey, although it never occurred to John or myself back when we were worrying about our kids eating mushrooms, what a fantastic way to encourage any kids who are hesitant about mushrooms to get excited about them instead! To enter this giveaway, just leave me a comment telling me what your favorite mushroom dish is. You can get a second entry into the giveaway by following me on Pinterest (or telling me that you already do). Please leave me a second comment for this additional entry–it makes it much easier to just tally the entries and use a random number generator to pick the winner. Unfortunately, the giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. This giveaway is now closed.
- For ground mushroom mixture:
- 24 oz whole crimini mushrooms
- 16 oz button mushrooms
- For kheema:
- 1½ T dark mustard seeds
- 1½ T cumin seeds
- 3 T vegetable oil
- 4 small or 3 medium onions, chopped
- 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ t ground cloves
- ¼ t ground cardamom
- 1 t Ceylon (true) Cinnamon
- ½ t ground turmeric
- 1 t paprika (or cayenne if you can take the heat)
- 1½ t ground cumin
- 1 heaping T ground coriander
- pinch dried fenugreek (methi) leaves, optional
- 1 T double strength (or 2 T regular) tomato paste
- 8 oz sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1-2 t coarse sea salt, to taste
- ground mushroom mixture (see instructions)
- 4 small or 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and finely sliced
- 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped, divided
- ⅓ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
- 2 t garam masala
- 1-2 T honey, to taste
- juice of half lemon
- 1 10-oz bag of frozen peas (or equivalent fresh, in which case add them with the tomatoes)
- lemon wedges for serving
- The day you will be making your kheema, place the whole mushrooms into the food processor and pulse until you have very finely minced mushrooms. You will probably need to do this in batches, and definitely use the pulse button or you risk ending up with mushroom paste! As you get all of the mushrooms minced, set them aside in a bowl.
- Make the kheema: Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven if you do not have one big enough (I used a 14 inch deep sauté pan) over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and partially cover the pan. When they have nearly stopped popping, add the cumin seeds. Let them fry for about 60 seconds or so--they will darken and become fragrant. Keep an eye on them as they burn easily.
- Add the chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally. Keep a glass of water beside the cook top so you can splash a tablespoon or two in if they start to stick or scorch.
- Let the onions caramelize for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the sliced mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Stir often, and let them cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add all of the dried spices (except the garam masala) and the dried fenugreek leaves, if using. Stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste. Stir for another minute.
- Add the ground beef with a hefty pinch of salt. Break it up and mix it into the spiced onion mixture. Stir occasionally while it browns.
- After 5 minutes add about ⅓ of the minced mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Break them up and stir into the ground beef and onions to incorporate them. Let cook for about 3 minutes, and then repeat twice more with the remaining mushrooms.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and let cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add all of the kale and half of the chopped cilantro. Turn the heat down to medium low and cover the pan (this will encourage the greens to wilt, at which point they will be easier to mix into the kheema).
- After about 5 minutes, remove the lid. Stir the wilted greens as well as the yogurt into the dish. Cover and let cook, on medium low, for another 10-15 minutes.
- Stir in the garam masala, 1 tablespoon of honey and the lemon juice. Taste for additional salt, honey, lemon juice or garam masala.
- About 5 minutes before serving, mix in the peas (if frozen).
- Serve sprinkled with the remaining chopped cilantro.
- Serve with basmati rice or flatbreads.
I was paid a small stipend by the Mushroom Council via Kitchen Play to write this post, but all opinions are my own.