Mushroom Mania – Dhaba at the Spice Kitchen

by Amanda McInerney on 19/07/2011

July marches on, and so does Mushroom Mania – with frightening speed, and quite suddenly I find myself in week three of my mushroom munching month.  Mushrooms have been a part of the human diet since man (although it was probably, actually women) began foraging in the forests and the early days of mushroom eating no doubt had a frisson of danger to them as identification of toxic species would have been something of a “hit or miss” affair.  Fortunately for us, we are at the other end of edible mushroom history and can safely enjoy the taste and health benefits of of this remarkable funghi with many species now being extensively farmed, making them accessible to us for most of the year.  Mushrooms are used in many different international culinary traditions and this week I took the opportunity to enjoy an Indian take on our funghal favourites at Dhaba at the Spice Kitchen, in Leabrook.

Chef Ragini Dey’s Spice Kitchen has been an Adelaide institution for more years than I can remember, although I do recall eating there close to 20 years ago.  Using her not inconsiderable talents as a chef and continually diversifying and adapting her menu, Ragini has managed to weather the capriciousness of Adelaide restaurant goers and remains a respected player on the local food scene.  Aside from being known for innovative and seasonal modern Indian cuisine, Dey also runs cooking classes, a take-away outlet, offers catering, has a commercial range of spices available for sale, conducts masterclasses at Tasting Australia and – most pertinent for me – is participating in Mushroom Mania.  Finding ourselves in the vicinity  and with a couple of hours to kill, The Husband and I were very happy to check out Dhaba’s ‘shroomy offerings.

Dhaba was offering a mushroom entree and main course as part of the promotion and these will vary.  Last night the entree was a  dish called Mushroom Uthapam. This consisted of three fermented lentil pancakes generously covered with chopped mushroom, red onion, parsley and red chilli with a drizzle of coconut dressing.  The pancakes were deliciously tangy and added a complimentary extra layer of flavour to the dish, as did the streak of creamy coconut dressing – an extra touch that I was particularly grateful for as I am mortally afraid of chilli (there – I’ve said it!).  All in all, an interesting, novel and very tasty take on a mushroom pancake.

The mushroom main for last night was called Mushroom Tatakak (lordy, I hope I’ve spelled that right) and was a delicious medley of chunky mushrooms, peas, tomatoes and onions, slightly warmed with spices and black pepper.  The mushroom flavour really shone through on this one and it’s earthiness went brilliantly with the beef, caramelised onion and chocolate dish which The Husband ordered.  While the Tatakak would have sufficed as a stand alone dish (with some rice) I couldn’t resist the rich, slightly sweet, brown beef dish which sat in front of my spouse so, in a sharing, caring kind of way, we ended up with the best of both dishes.

The wine list offers plenty of excellent choices, both by the glass as well as by the bottle.  Being a Monday night, the restaurant was relatively quiet, but the kitchen is clearly a well-oiled machine and service was efficient and smooth.  If Indian food is what you crave, Dhaba offers not only the traditional dishes and old favourites, but also a fresh look at the culinary tradition and a deft use of spice that gives new insight to a much loved cuisine.


Lambs’ Ears and Honey dined with the compliments of Mushroom Growers Australia and Mushroom Mania.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

celia July 19, 2011 at 6:50 pm

What a great month you’re having! The pancakes look interesting – I thought at first glance that they were pizzas! :)

Cakelaw July 19, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I love that the much maligned mushroom is the focus here! I adore mushrooms – I had them in my stir fry tonight.

Mandy - The Complete Cook Book July 20, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Where would we be without mushrooms – they are always in my fridge even if I haven’t got anything planned for them. You certainly are tasting some great new dishes.
:-) Mandy

InTolerantChef July 20, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I’d so love to try those pancakes, they look delicious!

AnnaJohnston July 20, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Mushie mania rocks, love your creations, they look amazingly fresh and tasty. Digging the pizza pancakes and the tatakak looks so pretty. Mmmmmmm.

cityhippyfarmgirl July 23, 2011 at 8:04 pm

That’s the good thing about partners, a few puppy dog eyes, a little expectant eyebrow raising and that caring sharing meal is in front of you too.
They both do look good.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella July 24, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Sounds delicious! is it hard to find restaurants that have mushroom dishes or do they all nowadays that they are in season?

The Undercover Cook July 24, 2011 at 10:00 pm

The Mushroom Uthapam pancakes look delicious!

Kitchen Butterfly July 27, 2011 at 4:01 am

Afraid of chili – glad you’ve got that one off your chest. I can imagine the flavour of the dough and the mushroom toppings….Lovely photos too

Tandy July 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm

I just love mushrooms and I am so grateful I do not have to forage for them :)

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