Olmi Mushroom

How is harvesting a mushroom like creating a universe?

The Olmi Mushroom. A tiny, delicious, seasonal Goan morsel that has us shrieking and jumping and singing like little school girls. Because the deeper we dig into it, the more excited we get. 

When my friend Savio brought me these mushrooms, wrapped in a teak leaf – and they’re always wrapped in teak leaves – I knew I must have them. 

Woodsy, buttery, heavy on the umami, toasty, nutty – all sorts of nice things is what this mushroom is made of. So what did I do with them? First, I painstakingly cleaned each mushroom with a toothbrush. And then, I cooked them into this flavourful and fragrant pulao with ridiculously plump grains of rice. 

Did you know that for these mushrooms to play a starring role in our cuisine, the universe must first conspire an entire ecosystem of supporting actors, including the otherwise villainous termites. 

I’m not joking. Before these mushrooms are harvested, a veritable salad of dry leaves must fall to the forest floor. Once these leaves fall, termites must build their little houses and begin feasting on (decomposing) them. Once the termites settle into their cosy little neighbourhoods, they let the mushrooms in, who begin colonising these termite hills of their own accord. 

When human beings go foraging for these ‘shrooms, they must contend with all the dangers that come with a forest – quiet corners, strange beings, and…. snakes. To send any miscreant snakes into hiding, the ground must be swept with an akshar twig. 

The Olmi mushroom is, because we are. We are, because the Olmi mushroom is. Twig, termite, teak, and rain come together to create this universe contained in a plate-worthy bite. 

It’s the stuff legends are made of. Just ask Arthur. 

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