Wild mushoom textures and flavors vary so dramatically, it’s really worth experimenting to see what you enjoy. My favorite is the ridiculously elegant chanterelle, the Chanel of the mushroom world, followed closely by the big, bulbous cep, which is meaty and looks like a sturdy seat for a little forest animal to sit on. Both work well in this upma, a well-loved and traditional South Indian breakfast dish, which I make using bulgur wheat or cracked wheat. It’s spiced just delicately enough to let the mushrooms take center stage, which is where they should be.
Serves 4 as a main course
2 cloves of garlic
1 Indian green chile
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1¼ cups cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 large white onion, sliced
1½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup bulgur wheat
¾ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch thick
1/3 pound wild mushrooms (e.g. chanterelles, ceps, enoki), sliced ¼ inch thick
First make the chutney. Bash the garlic and green chile using a mortar and pestle until well mashed, then stir in the lemon juice, 1/3 teaspoon of salt, and 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the finely chopped cilantro and stir into the chile garlic oil.
Boil the kettle and pour 1¼ cups of water into a jug.
Put 2 tablespoons of oil into a lidded frying pan and, when hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds pop and the leaves crackle, add the onion and fry for around 8 minutes, until golden and starting to brown, then add the ginger and fry for a couple more minutes.
Stir in the bulgur wheat, fry for 30 seconds, then pour over the boiled water and cover with a lid. Bring to a simmer and cook for around 8 minutes, until the water evaporates, then take off the heat.
Finally, fry the mushrooms. The best way to do this is to give them a quick blast in a really hot pan—ensure they have leg room by cooking them in two or three batches, so they don’t sweat on top of each other. Put 1 tablespoon of oil into a frying pan on high heat and, when really hot, throw in your first batch. Fry any robust varieties like ceps for 3 minutes, or until burnished and tender. Fry any semi-robust mushrooms like cremini for around 2½ minutes, and enoki, oyster, or chanterelles for just 1 minute. Then transfer to the bulgur pan.
To serve, add ¾ teaspoon of salt (or to taste) to the bulgur wheat and mix in, along with most of the chutney, using the rest to decorate the top.