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The Dish: Morel Vegetable Stew
Where to Get It: Indique, 3512-14 Connecticut Ave. NW
What It Is: The dish is a South Indian curry made by first soaking morel mushrooms in water to create a mushroom stock. Sautéed onions, ginger, carrots, and green chilies are then combined with coconut curry, hunks of potato, as well as the hydrated morel mushrooms. The creamy, earthy gravy compliments the morels, which have a divine honeycomb texture. Less meaty and chewy than other mushrooms, morels are tender and full of ridges, making them ideal for absorbing sauce. The green chilies add heat, and carrots add color and crunch. Savory little pancakes known as uttapam accompany the curry for the purpose of mopping up the sauce.
The Story: Chef K.N. Vinod says Indian morels are popular in northern India’s Kashmir, where they are often used in palao (rice cooked with vegetables). The Indian term for morels is “gucci,” and just like the designer label, the exotic mushrooms are texturally intricate, expensive, and hard to find. Vinod brainstormed a way to bring this Kashmiri element to the table and decided to add the morels to a coconut curry, which is a staple of South Indian cooking. The result is not only delicious but also marries the flavors and ingredients of two distinct areas of India. It’s an example of Indian fusion at its best.
Why Even Meat Eaters Will Like It: The morel of the story is that the creaminess of the dish, combined with the smoky, woodsy mushrooms, is so satisfying that anyone will love it.