Chettinad Mushroom Masala (South Indian Mushroom Pepper Curry)


A spicy curry is the perfect side with dal and rice. And it doesn’t get any tastier than this Chettinad Mushroom Masala: a south Indian restaurant style gravy of silky tomatoes and onions cradling juicy mushrooms. Serve it with a simple but delicious dal and white or brown rice or jeera rice for a delicious dinner you will want to make again and again.

Chettinad mushroom masala curry in Indian style copper bowl with a sprig of cilantro and curry leaves and a spoon on the side.

What is Chettinad mushroom masala?

Chettinad mushroom masala is a spicy dish from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu in south India. This is a region known for its opulent wealth, beautiful temples, and a cuisine so delicious but so fiery that it can make your mouth, eyes and nose water simultaneously.

The fire come from a liberal use of black pepper. Black pepper is part of nearly every garam masala or spicy curry ever cooked up in India, but usually its heat mingles, merges with other ingredients and mellows during the cooking process. But in Chettinad cuisine the black pepper is usually added to dishes at the tail end, which means you will taste it in the prepared dish. It’s a unique deliciousness and not one to be missed if you love Indian cuisine.

Chettinad cuisine is famous for its non vegetarian dishes; in fact the first Chettinad dish I ever ate many, many years ago was a spicy chicken curry. But those spicy curry bases are also perfect with vegetarian preparations. Like this Chettinad Mushroom Masala, a velvety curry of tomatoes and onions flavored with ginger, garlic and curry leaves.

Why you will love this recipe

  • If you like cooking and eating Indian food, this mushroom masala offers an experience that’s as delicious as any other Indian curry you’ve ever eaten, but differently so.
  • It is easy to make. This is a one-pot dish and it takes no more than 30 minutes to put together.
  • You can make it as spicy as you want it to be. My family doesn’t have a high tolerance for spicy, pungent foods, so I usually make this dish only mildly spicy. If you like more fire in your food, add in more black pepper and red chili powder or cayenne.
  • If you know someone who doesn’t love mushrooms (don’t we all?), this is a good dish to feed them. The mushrooms are just barely cooked in this dish so they retain a good dal of their bite and are rather juicy.
  • It is everyone friendly. The recipe is nut-free, soy-free and gluten-free and it’s, as always, vegan.
Chettinad style mushroom masala with black pepper in bowl.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Coconut oil is a great choice for south Indian cooking. In addition to infusing the dish with health it also adds a lovely flavor.
  • Veggies: 12 oz mushrooms (cremini or button mushrooms) + 1 onion + 3 medium tomatoes
  • Whole spices: 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds + 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Powdered spices: ½ teaspoon turmeric + 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed + 1 tablespoon ground coriander + 2 teaspoons garam masala + 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (you can use less)
  • Herbs: 2 tablespoons cilantro + 2 sprigs curry leaves + 2 green chili peppers (jalapeno or serrano) + 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste.
  • ¼ cup coconut milk. This will add a nice creaminess to the curry, but don’t use too much of it as you don’t want to dilute the flavor.
  • Salt to taste

How to make Chettinad Mushroom Masala

  • Heat oil in a skillet or wok. Add the mustard seeds to it, then the cumin. As soon as the mustard seeds crackle, add half the cilantro, curry leaves and slit green chili peppers.
  • Stir in the onions with a pinch of salt and saute them until they are a rich golden brown. Onions fried this way will melt into the gravy and help thicken it, so take your time and don’t leave them half-cooked.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste, stir it in and saute for a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes along with the turmeric, ground fennel and ground coriander. Mix well and let the tomatoes cook, stirring frequently, until they are pulpy and very soft and have acquired a deeper color.
  • Add the coconut milk and cook the curry for 4-5 minutes until it’s a rich reddish-brown in color.
  • Add the chopped mushrooms and stir them in. Let the curry come back to a boil, then stir in the garam masala, ground black pepper and salt and turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the remaining cilantro, then serve hot.
Chettinad Mushroom Pepper Curry in copper bowl with cilantro sprigs.

What to serve with this dish

Frequently asked questions

Is this a dry gravy?

Chettinad Mushroom is not as saucy as some Indian curries. But it is saucy enough that you can eat it with a flatbread like roti or naan.

How can I make this mushroom masala less spicy

Chettinad mushroom masala is meant to be spicy but you can tune the spice level to whatever you are comfortable with. My recipe is moderately spicy, but if you have very little tolerance for heat I’d advise you use just one green chili pepper and deseed it. You can also halve the quantity of black pepper.

Can I use this gravy with other vegetables?

Absolutely. This sauce would be awesome with roasted eggplant or cauliflower. It would even work with potatoes or sweet potatoes –boil them before you add them to the sauce.

Storage and freezing instructions

  • Refrigerate: Place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
  • Freeze: Freeze in an freezer-safe container for up to three months.
  • Reheat: Reheat the frozen or refrigerated curry on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.

More Indian mushroom recipes

Spicy Chettinad mushroom masala curry in a copper bottom serving bowl with cilantro garnish. On the side are curry leaves and a spoon.
Chettinad mushroom masala pepper curry in Indian copper bowl with cilantro and curry leaves.

Chettinad Mushroom Masala (South Indian Mushroom Pepper Curry)

Chettinad Mushroom Masala is a south Indian restaurant style curry of silky tomatoes and onions cradling juicy mushrooms.

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Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: Indian

Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Keyword: Chettinad Mushroom Masala

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 56kcal

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Instructions

  • Heat oil in a skillet or wok. Add the mustard seeds to it, then the cumin. As soon as the mustard seeds crackle, add half the cilantro, curry leaves and slit green chili peppers.

  • Stir in the onions with a pinch of salt and saute them until they are a rich golden brown. Onions fried this way will melt into the gravy and help thicken it, so take your time and don’t leave them half-cooked.

  • Add the ginger garlic paste, stir it in and saute for a minute.

  • Add the tomatoes along with the turmeric, ground fennel and ground coriander. Mix well and let the tomatoes cook, stirring frequently, until they are pulpy and very soft and have acquired a deeper color

  • Add the coconut milk and cook the curry for 4-5 minutes until it’s a rich reddish-brown in color.

  • Add the chopped mushrooms and stir them in. Let the curry come back to a boil, then stir in the garam masala, ground black pepper and salt to taste. Turn off the heat.

  • Stir in the remaining cilantro, then serve hot.

Nutrition

Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 46mg | Potassium: 359mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 483IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg

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