For Coconut Paste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole (use less if preferred!)
1 1/2 cups grated coconut (fresh or frozen or unsweetened, desiccated)
1/2-1 teaspoon pure chili powder (or to taste)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
3/4 cup water
For Mushroom Curry
1/2-1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter or ghee
16 ounces fresh button mushrooms, halved (or quartered if large)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, extra
1 tablespoon gingerroot, cut in julienne strips
1-3 green chilies, cut in half lengthwise (de-seeded for less heat)
1/2 cup onions, sliced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
reserved mushroom liquid, made up to 1 1/2 cups, with water
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
10-15 fresh curry leaves (or frozen)
2-3 teaspoons thick tamarind paste
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
For the coconut paste: Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick, heavy skillet and add the coconut and garlic. Stirring frequently, gently toast the coconut with the garlic cloves, until the coconut is golden brown. If using freshly grated or frozen grated coconut, this will take 15 to 20 minutes. If using unsweetened dessicated coconut, it will take less time. Be careful not to burn the coconut.
Stir in the chili powder and coriander powder and roast with the coconut for one minute. Set aside and cool lightly, then transfer the mixture to a blender with the water, and grind to a very fine paste. Set aside.
For the mushroom curry: Lightly saute the mushrooms in vegetable oil, butter or ghee until silken and just softened. Drain and reserve any liquid. Set aside.
In a medium-size pan, heat the extra vegetable oil and saute the ginger, chilies and onions for two to three minutes. Add the drained mushrooms, turmeric powder, the mushroom liquid made up to 1 1/2 cups with water, and salt, then partially cover with a lid, and simmer 5 minutes. Add the curry leaves and tamarind paste, and stir briefly before adding the coconut paste. Cover pan and cook over low heat for three minutes.
For tempering: Just before serving, heat the 1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil in a small skillet or flameproof ladle and toss in the mustard seeds. Once they start to pop and crackle, pour them into the mushroom dish, stir, and serve.