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The soul food for monsoon

A rainy season street snack that’s cheap, healthy and delicious.

entertainment Updated: Aug 12, 2010 01:09 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi

It is a monsoon thing. When the air gets humid, respite is in the dry, crackling, slightly-burnt ears of corn, the bhutta in Delhi lingo. Street vendors who sell cucumbers in summer, replace their stock with these sticks studded with soft kernels, the colours of which range from pale yellow to a golden shade.

A vendor in Kasturba Gandhi Marg, like others, get the bhuttas each morning from north Delhi’s Azadpur Sabzi Mandi, Asia’s largest vegetable wholesale market. He keeps the ear within its light green leaves – the husk, which when you peel, reveals strands of silken threads.

Bhutta eating is no longer a messy job. In malls, bright-coloured kiosks sell corn — peeled, picked, steamed, seasoned and buttered — in paper cups. The original edition, however, lies in the street.

The street guy has bhuttas on a bed of smouldering coal and a small pouch of of black salt and lemons to spice up the item. He roasts the ear to your requirement: burnt, or slightly seared to preserve the sweetness of the fresh corn, or mode-rately done.

Some people like their bhutta boiled, which has a more marked sweetness. There are not many stalls for boiled bhuttas. There is one in Ansari Market in Daryaganj, another in Vijay Nagar in North Delhi, and a few in Lajpat Nagar Central Market, among other places.

To check for a bhutta’s sweetness, poke the kernel with your nail. If it presses easily, get it roasted. A true aficionado eats it like a carnivore. The teeth gnaw into the browned stem, which is smeared with salt and lemon (optional), and dig ruthlessly into the kernels.

They pop and the sweet juice fills the mouth. The sensation is delicious and fulfilling, rare for something so healthy and inexpensive. At just R 10-15, it’s the ideal soul food for a bulgy Delhi belly.