Truffles: Move Over Piedmont, Here Comes Balehonnur

As Susan Boyle recently showed the world, appearances can be deceptive. Take the truffle, for example. It’s never going to win a culinary beauty contest – heck, it’s not even going to qualify for the first round. Yet this butt-ugly mofo manages to find its way into the kitchens of the rich, the famous, the culinary Rembrandts, the nouveaux riche, the wannabes and even the don’t-wannabes. People pay hundreds of dollars for a single top-quality truffle: an astronomical sum for a gastronomical luxury (okay, that was uncool, but I couldn’t resist).

Made in India...

Made in India...

To learn that these stinky, blob-like mycorrhizae (look it up, baby!) have been growing right under our noses, uncelebrated, right next door in Chikmaglur, came as a bit of a shock. When chef extraordinaire Abhijit Saha invited me to his swish new restaurant Caperberry to check out ‘The Great Indian Truffle’, I was there before you could say “tuberous fungifus”.

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Mushroom soup

Hearty mushroom soup for a cold day

Hearty mushroom soup for a cold day

Introduction
My favorite soup recipe, from one of my favorite ingredients. I like this recipe because it’s so darn easy to make… so few ingredients, swish them around a bit, then leave them to sit on the stove (the ingredients, not you)… and a few minutes later, voila, ve ‘as le zexy zup.

Ingredients
6 tbsp butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
340 gm button mushrooms (or, if you want to have some fun, mix up different types)
4 cups chicken stock
1 sprig of flat parsley
Salt and pepper
50 ml cognac, the best quality you can afford (I use Courvoisier)

Method

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan and add the onion. Cook until the onion is soft and translucent, then add the mushrooms and the remaining butter.
  2. Let the mixture sweat for 6-8 minutes. Make sure not to brown the onion.
  3. Stir in the chicken stock and the parsley and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Take off the heat, then remove and discard the parsley and allow the soup to cool.
  5. Use a hand held blender to purée the soup to the consistency you like; if you like it very smooth, use a tabletop blender. Depending on transfer to the blender and carefully blend at high speed until smooth.
  6. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer, add the cognac, mix well, and serve hot.