Gucchi is known to be one of the most expensive mushrooms, with only 500 gm of it costing up to Rs 18,000. Also known as Morel Mushrooms or Morchella Esculenta scientifically, these mushrooms command a huge demand despite their high price tag. They are locally called ‘gucchi’ in the Himalayan region and are prized for their spongy, honeycomb texture and unique flavour.
Gucchi mushroom is a species of fungus in the family Morchellaceae of the Ascomycota. They are pale yellow in colour with large pits and ridges on the surface of the cap, raised on a large white stem. Apart from its flavour, gucchi also owes its high price to the challenges in cultivation. The mushrooms are not being cultivated commercially and grow in conifer forests across temperature regions, and the foothills in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Jammu and Kashmir. And it takes months for villagers to collect enough of these mushrooms, dry them and bring them to the market. These mushrooms usually grow in clusters on logs of decaying wood, leaves or humus soil. They may or may not grow in the same spot the next season, which only makes the process of collection more tedious.
Gucchi mushrooms need to be soaked in hot water for at least an hour to moisten them and to remove all the dirt and sand particles that may cling on to the porous skin of the mushroom. The best use of fresh guchchi mushrooms is perhaps in pulao where you can enjoy their musky flavor.” Although many chefs have experimented with Gucchi Kebabs and Tandoori Gucchi in gravy combining it with other expensive ingredients like fragrant spices, saffron and dried fruits. Using the water in which the gucchi is soaked for the pulaoemanates a nice nutty flavour with a meaty texture that is difficult to resist. It is always better to slice the gucchi and cook as the surface area touching the food increases and thus the flavour is enhanced Gucchi does not require too much spicing and margination and in fact that may ruin the dish.
These mushrooms are also replete with health benefits. They are rich in potassium, vitamins and copper. They are also a rich source of vitamin D apart from several B-vitamins, according to thegreatmorel.com. It is further rich in antioxidants that prevent health issues including heart diseases and diabetes by removing reactive oxygen species that harm the body.