Mushroom choyela is a vegetarian take on a popular Nepali (Newari) dish often made with water buffalo, chicken, or goat. Served as a side dish as well as an appetizer. Vegan & gluten-free recipe.
I am kicking off our Nepali festival season with a very popular appetizer, choyela. I have a shared chicken choyela (both grilled and boiled version) if you are interested. Before you click the chicken version, let me tell you that mushroom choyela is just as delicious and YOU MUST TRY. I was a little hesitant in the beginning but mushroom is a great candidate for making vegetarian choyela.
I used oyster mushroom for Nepali mushroom choyela. It has a broad oyster-shaped cap with a delicate stalk and lots of flesh, which I enjoyed a lot. Portobello mushroom or any other mushroom with flesh would be great for this recipe because when broiled or grilled mushroom loses a lot of moisture and shrinks down the volume.
For Nepali mushroom choyela, I broiled the mushrooms in the oven for few minutes on each side then tempered fenugreek seeds in mustard oil for an added depth of flavor.
Mushroom has been long celebrated as a superfood worldwide. While growing up in Nepal, it was relatively a “new” vegetable (technically they are not plants but part of the kingdom called fungi). Known as a “vegetable protein”, mushroom is wonderful when sauteed, roasted, grilled, into soups, and so much more.
There are several varieties of edible mushrooms available depending on where you live. Nutritionally speaking, all edible safe-to-eat mushrooms provide a powerful nutrients such as Vitamin D and B-vitamins, cancer-fighting properties, antioxidants for immune health to name a few. They are also naturally lower in calories, fat-free, & gluten-free.
Next time when you need an easy vegetarian snack/appetizer, I hope you will try Nepali Mushroom Choyela. Mushroom is the star of this dish accompanied by aromatics and ground spices like cumin powder and timur (Nepali Sichuan pepper powder). You can loosely follow this recipe and adjust the spices per your liking. I personally find Nepali dishes tempered with mustard oil to be really tasty but it can be overpowering to some. Swap mustard oil with neutral oil if needed but don’t skip the tempering - it is what builds and marries all the flavors together.
Nepali Mushroom Choyela
For 2-3 servings as a side dish
½ lb oyster mushroom (portobello mushroom or mushroom with a bit of flesh is preferred)
¼ cup finely chopped onion
½ tablespoon minced garlic
½ tablespoon minced ginger
2 green chilies, sliced (optional)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
⅛ teaspoon timur (Nepali Sichuan pepper powder)
⅛ teaspoon red chili powder
2 heaping tablespoon mustard oil (use any other neutral oil such as sunflower, canola, avocado)
½ teaspoon fenugreek seed
2-3 sprigs scallions, chopped
salt to taste
lemon juice, optional
Gently and quickly rinse mushroom under a cold running water. Use a towel to soak excess water. Tear the oyster mushroom into half or ⅓ depending on the size.
Turn the oven to “broil” setting and lower the oven rack to the middle. You don’t want the mushroom burning too quickly.
Arrange clean mushroom on a baking sheet and broil for 6-8 minutes on each side. Depending on your oven, the timing may vary slightly so keep an eye. Alternatively, you can pan-fry the mushroom with some oil over medium heat. Set aside for few minutes and chop mushroom into small pieces.
In a bowl, add chopped onions, chopped mushrooms, minced garlic, minced ginger, sliced chilies, cumin powder, timur, turmeric powder, red chili powder.
In a small pan, heat mustard oil over medium heat. Add fenugreek seed to the mustard oil and cook until fenugreek seeds turns slightly dark. Take off heat immediately and pour over the bowl with mushroom. Mix everything and season with salt per taste.
Add chopped scallions and squeeze little lemon juice, which is optional. I don’t always add lemon juice at the end but sometimes it needs that freshness.
Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. Serve Nepali Mushroom Choyela cold or room temperature as a side dish/appetizer.
In a true Nepali manner, I enjoyed Nepali mushroom choyela with furundana (savory trail mix with puffed rice, nuts, and seasonings - recipe coming soon) and aloo ko achar (Nepali potato salad).
More Nepali recipes to try: