Wild mushrooms in Goa are a much sought after delicacy. Vendors can be seen selling them every year in the month of July and August. They are available only for a few weeks and a bunch of 50 can cost somewhere between Rs. 500 to Rs.2,000. The mushrooms are known as ‘Olmi’ in Konkani and have a very high demand in the state.
Some names of the local mushroom species are olmi or alami, roenichim, toshali, chochyali, khut or khuti, shiti, shitol , shiringar olmi, shendari, kuski, dukor, surya olmi, tel alami, fuge and bhuifod.
Olmi (mushrooms)are harvested from termite mounds present in Goan forests. These termite mounds are considered sacred and are dedicated to Goddess ‘Santeri’. These mushrooms cannot be cultivated due to their specific requirements. ‘Termitomycesis’ their taxonomic name.
Dishes prepared from mushrooms
Some of the popular dishes are ‘tonak’, ‘xacuti’ and alami chilly fry. However, for the connoisseur, there is always room for experiment. Most popular among the preparations is the ‘Xacuti’. A thick gravy made with a variety of spices and and coconut kernel, roughly ground and cooked to perfection. This preparation is best enjoyed with the famous Goan ‘poie’, freshly baked and eaten hot.
Legend behind the ‘Olmi’ or ‘alami’
One of the legends of these mushrooms was recounted by Professor, Dr. Nandkumar Kamat, Project Scientist, Goa University Fungus Culture Collection And Research.
“Tradition dictates that the guardian snake (of the ant-hill) has to be pleased before harvesting the mushroom. This is done using a wild herb called akshar. This unique tradition just can’t be compared to the commercial version which is also way too mild in flavour and spongy in texture,” he said.