While I love both mushrooms and curries, it was the name that really attracted me to this dish: Melaka is a lovely little town in Malaysia, which I’d never heard of until last year when I used it as a stop-over between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The architecture reflected its history as a Portuguese colony, and it was such an unexpected joy.
Melaka used to be an important port in the spice trade, hence its inclusion in the book The Spice Routes. As you would expect, the curry is really gorgeously spiced and has a lovely heat to it (though I confess I halved the amount of chilli in the recipe which may have removed the ‘devilish’ aspect from the title). The mushrooms are meaty, but my favourite component is definitely the water chestnuts. I just love that crunch!
Making this curry and thinking back to my travels last year has really reignited my passion for exploring in Asia – there are just so many hidden gems waiting to be discovered. I’m already eagerly planning my trips for the year ahead and hoping for more surprises like Melaka, and more culinary delights along the way too!
Melakan Devil’s Mushroom Curry
Serves 4, from The Spice Routes by Chris & Carolyn Caldicott
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds
2 red onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm fresh ginger, cut into strips
1 tsp ground fenugreek
6 red chillies, finely sliced (or fewer, if you prefer to play it safe)
225g aubergines, cut in to fingers
200g shiitake mushrooms, quartered
200g oyster mushrooms, thickly sliced
115g water chestnuts
8 ground cashew nuts
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 lemon grass stalks, finely sliced
300ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
rice and coriander leaves, to serve
1. In a large pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. Heat for a few minutes until they begin to crackle.
2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, fenugreek and chillies, and fry for about 7 minutes until they start to soften.
3. Add the aubergine, and sprinkle with a little salt. Fry for about 3-5 more minutes until golden brown, stirring regularly.
4. Add the shiitake and oyster mushrooms and fry for a few minutes more.
5. Add the water chestnuts, ground cashews, turmeric and lemon grass, and fry for 30 seconds.
6. Add the vegetable stock and soy sauce, bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 7-10 minutes. Season to taste.
7. Serve with rice and garnish with coriander leaves, if you have any.