Warning: Not all wild mushrooms are edible. Only pluck mushrooms in the company of experienced local people who know the forest well.
The mushrooms we see in markets and big departmental chains are usually grown on a farm and packaged for sale. In Tripura, however, we mostly rely on seasonal mushrooms that grow only when specific weather conditions are met. One such mushroom is the buphang muikhumu (buphang means ‘tree’ and muikhumu is a generic word for “mushroom”) that grows in forests after the first pre-monsoon shower when the humidity of the state begins to rise. They grow organically without any chemicals and fertilizers.
The blooming of the mushroom coincides with the bamboo shoot season. People visiting forests to collect bamboo shoots also forage for the mushrooms for a full meal.
Where to look for tree mushrooms: These mushrooms grow on dead trees that have started to rot. When I go to the forest to look for them, I take great care to spot fallen trees that have turned dark brown. These trees are the perfect place for mushrooms to grow. Alternatively, you can drag one of the trunks home and keep it in a cool dark place. When the temperature and humidity is correct, you will find the mushrooms sprouting on the log.
How to make Tripuri mushroom soup: This year I found some beautiful and tasty mushrooms in the forests of Lembucherra, my village. They were growing on a dead mango tree lying on the forest floor. I collected them and brought them home to make soup. First I washed the mushrooms thoroughly and then cut them into small strips. Following is the recipe for a simple mushroom soup:
For ingredients you will need water, salt, green chillies, potatoes, ginger, turmeric, and a type of herb called kaasing mosla.
First bring water to a boil, then add all the ingredients except the herb. Let it cook.
Once the mushroom and the potato is tender, add the aromatic herb kaasing mosla and turn off the heat.
Pour yourself a nice hot bowl of soup.
Other ways of cooking tree mushroom: Tree mushrooms can be eaten fried, and as awandroo, chakhui, gudok, and berma mui. What many people don’t know is that it can also be added to non-veg curries.
Many types of mushrooms are found in the forests of Tripura. There is muikhumi haplog, which is considered the most tasty mushroom. It has a long stalk that grows underground that reaches a length of about one feet. Then there is muikhumu athukwrwi, and muikhumu rotoi. Each type has its own unique flavour.
This article has been created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.