Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Corn two ways: roasted bhutta and with potato

As August draws close to an end, I am getting ready to bid adieu to my favorite of the month, the summer corn. When it comes to produce, many people like to think of tomatoes come summer, but for me, it is corn. Especially the freshest fresh corn that one finds in the farmers market. If I could write poems, I would have composed an ode to it by now, but clearly that hasn't happened yet. By the way, frozen or canned do not even come close, and do not enter my thoughts or my kitchen either.

Bhutta: roasted corn

In India, corn or bhutta is usually eaten as a roadside snack, roasted over coal, and then sprinkled with lime and salt, sometimes with red chili powder or spices that would be the vendor's secret, and it is as blissful as it gets. Naturally that is my most favorite way to eat as well as cook corn. First, it needs to be roasted, grilled, or broiled to get evenly dark spots all around. In the meanwhile, in a small plate I take salt, red chili powder, some ghee, and wedges of lime. I dip a lime wedge into ghee, then into the salt and chili powder, and rub it all over the corn. Simple and elegant. Occasionally, I chhidkao (sprinkle) some chaat masala too.

In contrast in America, corn is usually a side as part of a meal or used as an ingredient. My introduction to it, of all places, was in the workplace cafeteria, where it was served alongside my entree. Boiled, and slathered with salted butter, it tasted like nothing I had eaten before. I was completely hooked. Corn here is indeed quite something - tender, succulent, sweet, delicious.

Usually every summer after I have had one corn on the cob too many, there are a couple of them in the fridge that need to be used up, and that is when I turn to one of my favorite dishes made with corn and potato. It is based on a recipe from the book 'Indian Cooking' written by Madhur Jaffrey and is called 'bhutta aur aloo ki mazedar tarkari', which roughly translates to 'a delicious corn and potato vegetable dish'. As with most of Jaffrey's recipes, I increase the amount of chili powder in it slightly. It can be served with rotis, or rice and dal, or eaten by itself.

Bhutta aur Aloo
Corn and Aloo Sabji

Serves 3-4

3 Tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 medium potato, boiled and diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
4 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 Tablespoons chopped mint
1 green chili, chopped
2 cups of corn (roughly from two cobs)
about 1/2 cup coconut milk
salt to taste
3/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1 Tablespoon lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin

In a kadhai or wok, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the cumin seeds, followed by the garlic and potatoes. Stir fry till the potatoes start to turn golden brown. Add the tomato, cilantro, mint, and green chili. Stir around for a couple of minutes, and then add the corn and coconut milk. Stir it to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan. Lower the heat if needed and cook for a few minutes until the corn is cooked. Add the remaining ingredients one by one.

Notes

I don't always add the mint.

Sometime I substitute the coconut milk with whole milk or half and half.

Instead of using a regular potato, I sometimes use about four fingerling potatoes if I have them on hand, and it makes the dish even more wonderful.

20 comments:

Tee said...

Roasted bhutta...yum! I rub my bhutta with ghee too, tastes just divine!
Love this sabzi...going straight to my bookmarks.:)

Desiknitter said...

Bad idea to look at this before breakfast, even, now my stomach is growling.
Should try this, although you're right - I was thinking I'd use milk instead of coconut.
The ghee is key to the roasted one, no? Yum.

Kelly Mahoney said...

Looks delicious. Corn was the first thing I ate when I got my braces off, even though it was January and the corn was ridiculously expensive. I had to have it!

Asha said...

Corn with Aloo looks out of this World!:))

musical said...

Roasted bhutta with lemon, salt and mirchi powder is divine, especially when its raining!! And the aloo-bhutta sabzi looks yummy!!

Richa said...

roasted bhutta, the ever fav :)
i liked the idea of adding mint

NSG said...

perfect timing! now i know what to do with the boiled bhuttas in the fridge :-) bhunaa beats boiled any day for me.

bee said...

ghee on bhutta? never had that. your home grilled corn lokos so professional - like the bhuttawala's crn in india.

Rajitha said...

mmm that bhutta looks so good.. somehow i find corn here in the US a bit 2 sweet for my taste...luv indian corn (tho in India american corn is the craze!)

TBC said...

Loved your 1st pic. It reminded me of Mumbai during the rainy sesaon.

TheCooker said...

Ah! Toop w/ corn.
The pics are fantastic as usual.

Suganya said...

The first pic is striking gorgeous.

evolvingtastes said...

tee, I agreee. I think you will like the sabji, but let me know anyway.

desiknitter, yes, the ghee is key, but the good news is that if the corn is reeeeally good, I don't miss it.

kelly, I can only imagine how you might have been thinking of things you couldn't eat while you had the braces on, and then had to have them after they were off.

asha, thank you for the compliments. it tastes delicious too.

thanks musical. bhutta and rain - oh the magic. over here, we get both, but never the two together.

thank richa. the mint does add an interesting twist, especially if it is fresh and bursting with minty flavor. Otherwise, it just gets lost with the cilantro.

evolvingtastes said...

NS-jee, how have you been? Haven't seen you or heard much from you lately. If the corn is already boiled, all you need to do is toss it, and add the spices.

bee, thanks yaar, that comment means a lot (straightening my collar already). Ghee on bhutta is something my mother always did, I don't think the bhuttawalla vendors would do it in the interest of profit.

rajitha, oh, I can see how corn here could be too sweet for some. Is the American corn in India grown locally or imported? I have seen some corn stuff being sold in cups in the new malls there, but haven't tried it.

tbc - bhutta, rain, bombay - wah wah, what memories. Somehow bhutta always means rains for most of us.

Cooker, thanks man.

suganya, thanks so much. coming from a photographer like you this is quite a compliment.

Cynthia said...

I would give anything to have some of that dish! Corn is usually roasted and sold at the roadside here in Barbados too,

evolvingtastes said...

Cynthia, that is an interesting little bit of information about Barbados, thanks.

Rachna said...

wow this is a total drool post forme...i love corn in and every way.... i love corn on the cob sabzi too... heaven...

evolvingtastes said...

Thanks Rachna, I appreciate your comment.

Anjali said...

ET, made thsi recipe more or less as you describe here, except that I used fresh and unroasted or bolied corn. Was a fantastic dish and will go into my list of dishes to make on a regular basis.

Do add to your blog any more corn dishes you make. I love eating corn in all forms and am looking for more ways to serve it.

evolvingtastes said...

Anjali, thanks ga! Fresh summer corn does make all the difference to this simple dish, no? Did you add mint? I have sent another corn recipe (corn-palak-methi and a bonus pulao) to you by email, in case I don't get a chance to blog about it. I think you will like those too.

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