When enquired at a local Dry Fruit Store in Jammu about Guchhi Mushrooms, the shopkeeper gave me a raised eyebrows look as If I asked his ATM Pin Number.
Next what happened: He called his most reliable employee, handed him the key and told to bring the white envelope bag from the cupboard.
Then he rubs the Chirag and pulls out the mushrooms.
“Achcha lagta hai aajkal ke Young log ye sab kharidte hain” (Feels good when young people like you ask for such stuff)
The Shopkeeper was delighted when I bought “Guchhiyan” as Locals of Jammu call them. He adds more, “Aajkal kon kharidta hai ise!” (Nobody buys them these days)
Kanaguchhi, the wild mushrooms or Morel Mushrooms or Morchella esculenta are mostly found in hilly areas of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir. If you’d ask a elderly person about its origin, he will give you a “Oh! Tasty! very rare! On Hills! Very Expensive” reaction.
An Instagram Contest to know How popular these Mushrooms are!
But, What’s the Big Deal?
Morel Mushrooms are extremely difficult to cultivate. They are always hunted. Infact, Morel Mushrooms Hunting is a thing these days in United States not India though. Morels have high medicine values including anti-tumor effects and are also used in Immunotherapy. They are also believed to decrease the risk of cancer especially prostate cancer.
Kanaguchhi Mushrooms go for about Rs. 16,000 to 18,000 / kg in Jammu
Many Indians still don’t know a thing about the Kangucchi. The shopkeeper shared one story when her mother once was gifted 1 kg of Guchhi mushrooms. As his mother knew nothing, she soaked the mushrooms in warm water and after seeing them expand , she got scared and threw them away!
3 Authentic Kashmiri Kanaguchhi / Morel Mushrooms Recipes
Having Kanaguchhi for dinner cannot be a daily affair. That is why, these are prepared when there are big occasions like Marriages and usually in Kashmiri Marriages, there is always a dedicated person assigned to serve kanaguchhi because you cannot keep it open for obvious reasons.
Traditionally, these are always prepared in Yakhani (curd based gravy) along with Fox seeds (phool makhane).
I have used Kanaguchhi to make three easy and authentic Kashmiri recipes.
Preparing Kanaguchhi is easy and simple. But what you need to take care of is, you need to clean them extremely well.
Here is the quick tip for cleaning Morel Mushrooms:
Step 1: Immerse them in warm water for good 5 minutes.
Step 2: Clean them properly inside out with running tap water
Step 3: Cut them into two halves or the way you want (depending upon the recipe)
Step 4: Repeat the cleaning of Mushrooms three to four times as they contain a lot of dirt.
1) Red Paneer Kanaguchhi
Red Paneer Kanaguchhi Or “Wozil Kanaguchhi” (Wozil means Red) is nothing but preparing Red Paneer in Kashmiri Style. Don’t fry or deep fry Paneer, just make the red gravy and let them boil.
To know how to make this red gravy, Click here, I call it The Kashmiri Tadka.
When the paneer is almost ready, Its time for the Kanaguchhi to go inside.
Boil them together on low flame for about 10 minutes with a closed lid. The closed lid ensures that the aroma of Kanaguchhi goes well inside the gravy.
Did I add salt?
2) Kanaguchhi Yakhani with Phool Makhane
This is the most authentic and actual way of preparing Kanaguchhi. Preparing Kanaguchhhi with Paneer and Shufta may not be considered as that traditional by Old Kashmiri Eaters.
This recipe doesn’t contain any vegetable or Paneer. It contains Fox seeds(Phool Makhane) and Kanaguchhi. Kashmiri Hindus are very fond of Phool Makhane. For them, eating Phool Makhane is just like eating Popcorn. More on Phool Makhane later.
Here’s the recipe.
Add 2-3 cardamoms with Milk.
Add White Saunf Powder (Baidyana) and boil it.
Add some curd and after it is properly mixed, add your favorite Kanaguchhi Mushrooms
Keep them between low to medium flame. Let them boil. Keep the lid on.
When it is almost ready, add phool makhane. The idea is to keep them moderately soft.
Stir themm properly and let it run on low flame for about 5 minutes. Keep the lid on.
Kanaguchhi Yakhani with Phool Makhane is ready to serve!
Don’t forget to add some salt!
3) Shufta Kanaguchhi – Kashmiri Dessert
My Mom remarks, “Shufta is a rich man’s dessert”
What she really meant is the amount of richness it contains. To sum up in one line, it is basically all dry fruits sweetened gracefully!
Shufta or Kashmiri Shufta is one of the few sweet dishes from Srinagar. If Kashmir is A paradise on earth, then it surely is a Paradise on bowl.
A quick tip for Calorie Conscious people, skip this recipe!
Kashmiri Shufte contains Paneer and dry fruits.
Now, that you have dry fruits ready, cut the paneer into small blocks.
It is important that you use only Desi Ghee for frying Paneer also. It amplifies the taste. Don’t fry them on high flame, keep gas on low flame only.
After when they have turned golden, add dry fruits into the pan and mix them well. Keep the gas on low flame only. The concept here is not to deep fry them.
Next Step is to prepare Chashini, which is same across all cultures and cuisine throughout India.
Not only adding Saffron and Cardamom gives this recipe an elegance, they also add color and most importantly, flavour.
While, the dry fruits and Paneer are almost ready, add Kanaguchhi into the mixture and mix them properly. Please note that the kanaguchhi used are chopped into small pieces not into two halves. Keep on low flame and mix them extremely well. Don’t keep it for too long and make sure that you constantly stir it.
Now,Add the mixture ( Dry Fruits, Paneer and Kanaguchhi) into the Chashini we prepared earlier and let it settle.
Serve the Kanaguchhi Shufta hot!
Kanaguchhi is also used in making Pulao.
Morel Mushrooms are not just used by Indians, they are extensively used in French Cuisine also. United States also get good varieties of Morel Mushrooms.
Mumbaikars, If you want to taste Guchhi or Morel Mushrooms, you can try them at Masala Library, ITC Grand Central, Four Seasons(Worli) or Square, Novotel. Be ready for a good bill though.
And for rest of the people who don’t want to try, nothing will change.
It’s just a lost recipe and delicacy!