7 finger-licking good mushrooms
Tharus from western part of Nepal’s southern plains have been collecting and consuming different varieties of wild mushrooms that are finger-licking good. They are not just mushrooms for them but they have special names for each variety. That’s the beauty and richness of their tradition and local Tharu language they speak.
This mushroom grows around termite hills. Termites are called ‘sina’ in Tharu language (both eastern and western). These mushrooms are tubular and around 22-25 inches long.
They are normally found near the root of trees with thick trunk. They grow in troops and are found in an area of maximum 12 – 20 square feet. If you’re lucky, you can gather loads of bhemti from a single place.
It is found from May till December. It also grows near adobe houses.
Phutki, bhutki or kutki
Called phutki, bhutki or kutki in Tharu language, these mushrooms grow in the ashes from forest fire. Thus, it is black but after washing it with water it looks like semi-white.
The black mushrooms are called ‘phutki’ while the white ones are called ‘gangadhur’ due to their white colour. Both phutki and gangadhur look like button mushroom but they are completely round.
Normally, after harvesting wheat, the remaining stubble is burnt. Called ‘larwaa’ In Tharu language, the stubble is burnt in April – May so that it is easier to plough the fields. These mushrooms grow in the ploughed field after the first rain and sunshine, as soon as the monsoon arrives.
Normally found during the month of July, these mushrooms grow in grazing field around dried cattle dung during monsoon season.
Generally, gangadhur and gogwaa are washed and cut into two, and cooked over coal embers wrapped in saal leaves for 5-10 minutes after adding a pinch of salt, turmeric powder and mustard oil.
As it looks like a cat’s nose, this mushroom is called naak bilariyaa as a cat is called ‘bilariyaa’ in Tharu language. It is found during monsoon season in jungle and around houses.
Buselaa means hay in Tharu language. These mushrooms grow in the wet and moist hay.
It’s wild oyster mushroom and generally grows on timber. They are differentiated as edible and non-edible based on the timber on which they grow.
Mushrooms growing on logs of mango, saal (Shorea robusta) and aasna (looking like a saal tree) tree are edible. These mushrooms grow on dried logs when they get wet and moist during monsoon.
Caution: Wild mushrooms can be poisonous. Take advice of local people while collecting and consuming them.