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Afghan mushroom curry (Samaroq)

We instinctively think of mushrooms in Italian cuisine because of the fame of truffles. In addition, French chanterelles and a large variety of Japanese and Chinese mushrooms flood the high-end grocery store. Hiding in this large world of fungi are Himalayan morels and wild mushrooms. Mostly undiscovered and still wild foraged these mushrooms are highly prized along the Northern border of India and Pakistan.

This is an amazing recipe that is elegant and sublime in flavour. Although I made this dish with white button mushrooms, it works well with a variety of mushrooms mixed in. Each mushroom variety adds its own nuance and texture to the dish. It is a light curry that is earthy. The spices enhance the mushroom flavours and do not overpower them. I loved how this dish turned out and is a dish I will definitely make again.

Durkhanai Ayubi tells her story of fleeing war-torn Afghanistan through recipes and stories in this cookbook. She runs two restaurants in Adelaide, is also a freelance writer and is a Fellow of the Atlantic Institute. Through this book, she describes how new ideologies, such as Soviet-inspired communism and Islamic extremism, informed movements that challenged Afghan culture and traditions and led to the large-scale displacement of Afghans, including many members of her own family. This cookbook is filled with wonderful recipes that are delicious and they do stave my craving for great Afghan cuisine.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 red chillies, thinly sliced into circles

1 large onion, finely diced

2 large tomatoes, finely diced

Salt, to taste

3 lb mixed mushrooms, roughly sliced

Water, as needed

1 teaspoon chaar masalah powder

Chaar masalah powder:

4 1-inch pieces cinnamon sticks

2 large dried bay leaves

3 black cardamom pods

20 green cardamom pods

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

15 whole cloves

Start by making the chaar malasah. Heat a dry frying pan and toast all the spices individually till they are aromatic and lightly browned. Cool completely and grind to a fine powder in a spice mill. Store in an air-tight container.

Heat the oil in a pot and add the garlic and red chilli. Sauté for 1 minute till the garlic starts to get a light golden. Add the onions and turn down the heat to medium-low. Sauté till the onions are also a light golden, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and salt and cook till the tomatoes are broken done and turn into a sauce, about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook on medium heat. The mushrooms will give out water and the curry will turn into a sauce. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on, stir often so the mushrooms do not stick to the bottom of the pot.

When the mushrooms are cooked, remove them from the stove and add the chaar masalah powder and mix in well. Taste for salt and the aromatics of the spices.

Serve hot with rice or Afghan bread.

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