French Fusion Mushroom Tart (with an Indian twist)
We tried to recreate a mushroom tart we ate in Paris, but with an Indian twist! Read below for our recipe and let us know what you think. This meal is perfect for a nice dinner for two paired with a glass of wine.
In the beginning of March, I got to visit Paris for 5 days while attending a conference. There wasn’t much time outside of the conference to sightsee so I missed much of the sights like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. However, I had plenty of time to eat and explore the food scene. My favorite meal was at Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie. Located in the 2nd arrondissement, it is quintessential French. It has a small, quaint dining area and bar next to a shop where you can buy an assortment of French cheeses, ham and wines. Established in 1894, it serves some of the most classic French specialties to perfection.
What did I eat? A mushroom tart.
It sounds dull and boring, but the waiter assured me that it was his favorite vegetarian item on the menu. So, I thought, when in France, listen to the French. I was not disappointed. In fact, I can safely say that it was the best meal I have eaten in a long time.
When Le Comptoir brought out the mushroom tart, it did not look anywhere near what I had imagined. The base of the dish was a layer of a creamy mushroom gravy. On top of this sauce was a crispy biscuit, a little larger than the size of my palm. On top of this biscuit was a dollop of a shallot-horseradish creme. On top of all this was an assortment of button mushrooms sprinkled all over. It was a beautiful sight and all the flavors combined was a spectacular orchestra in my mouth.
I came home and recounted this gastronomic experience to my husband in vivid detail and decided that the only way to help him appreciate what a life-changing culinary moment it was for me was to re-create it for him. So that is what I set out to do.
I decided in creating my own version, I would incorporate the flavors I know best: Indian spices.
For the mushroom base, I decided to go with a form of the classic French béchamel sauce. Béchamel sauce is typically made by whisking milk into flour. I decided to do a gluten-free version for this recipe since the recipe already calls for a flour-filled buttermilk biscuit. To spice it up, I added cumin, coriander, and chili powder that is the hallmark for most North Indian curries.
I made a classic buttermilk biscuit using the following recipe from AllRecipes.I have used this recipe multiple times in the past and it has never disappointed me. I was originally thinking about adding green chilis to the biscuits to Indianize it a bit, but then didn’t want to complicate the tart with too many competing flavors. So, I opted for the classic biscuit. I typically follow the recipe as it is written with one modification: when I turn the dough onto a floured surface, I tend to add flour to the top of the dough. After each turn, I add more flour to it. I have found that the original recipe ends up with a slightly wetter dough than I would like. So, my strategy has been to add flour as I press the dough so I can get it to the right consistency.
The shallot-horseradish creme took a bit more time to figure out.
Onions are an essential part of French cuisine. Many times, it is cooked with butter and wine, and allowed to caramelize to give it a rich sweet flavor. In thinking about how to incorporate Indian spices in such a way that would blend well with the mushroom base, I decided to make the following changes. Instead of shallots, I used red onions. While not as sweet as shallots, red onions do maintain some level of sweetness but have a stronger kick. They also pair well with many Indian flavors. To give it a kick, La Comptoir used horseradish. I decided to substitute a classic combination that serves as a base to many South Indian gravies: roasted red chilis, toor dhal and channa dhal. This combination does not provide the same kind of kick that horseradish does, but they certainly provide spice, which we are all about.
Putting the final plate together is easy!
Cover the base of the plate with the mushroom sauce. Add two biscuits to the top. Place a dollop of the onion crème on top of each biscuit. Voila! Bon Appetit!
- 3 cups cremini mushroom sliced
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup white cheddar shredded
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp chili powder
- as needed salt
- 2 curry leaves
- 1 onion chopped
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tbsp toor dhal
- 1 tbsp channa dhal
- 2 red chilis
- 1 pinch asafoteida optional
- as needed salt
Sauté mushrooms until golden brown in butter, in medium heat. This should take about 3 minutes.
Add salt as needed and then the garlic. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add vegetable broth, heavy cream, and cheddar
Add cumin, coriander, and chili powder.
Allow sauce to simmer for approximately 5 minutes, until it begins to coalesce into a sauce.
Heat butter in medium heat and add onions. Let it caramelize in low-medium heat. This can take up to 30 to 35 minutes. Do not sauté often but keep an eye out to make sure it does not burn.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in low-medium heat in a small pan. Add in the following order: asafoteida (optional), red chilis, toor dhal, channa dhal, and curry leaves.
Once onions have caramelized, place the roasted dhal mixture, onions, and sour cream in a blender. Add salt as needed. Blend until smooth.
We used this recipe with the modifications below: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/220943/chef-johns-buttermilk-biscuits/
One modification: If the dough is wet (which I find that it is with this recipe), add flour to the top of the dough with each turn, once it is on the floured surface.
Putting all components of dish together
Add a layer of the mushroom gravy to the plate.
Place one or two buttermilk biscuits on top.
Spoon the onion-lentil crème on top of the biscuits.
Optional toppings: parsley, caramelized onions, cilantro (if you want to really go strong on the Indian flavors).