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Corn craze

india Updated: Sep 12, 2010 01:05 IST
Namya Sinha
Namya Sinha
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Bhutta (roasted corn cob layered with spicy masala and lemon) and makki ki roti with sarson ka saag are the two most popular ways of eating corn in India.

In Indian cooking, the usage of corn is at a very nascent stage whereas in Western countries, it is perhaps the most versatile form of starch used in cooking. Bhutte ki kheer, baby corn halwa, corn chaat, corn kofta curry, kadhai baby corn are some Indian delights made using corn, though it still has to gain popularity in India.

For centuries corn has been a staple diet in Mexican cuisine. Crunchy corn tortillas, tamales, are made using corn flour. Further numerous things are made from these tortillas, including tacos, enchiladas, flautas, tacquitos, and even corn meal quesadillas.

While Italians use corn to make polenta (an alternative to pasta), African recipes use cornmeal as a starch or main part of the meal. Nshima and ugali are two popular dishes made of corn. In South American countries such as Chile and Venezuela, humitas (corn that is pureed and cooked in corn husks), pastel de choco (corn and meat pie), arepa (corn based snack, lightly fried and served with different fillings) are very popular.

Apart from this corn bread, corn pudding, corn muffins and corn oil are some of the popular products made of corn used worldwide.

Tarun Kapoor, Executive Sous chef, The Metropolitan Hotel says, “Five years ago, corn was not at all popular in India. The only exposure was the regular corn flakes and sweet corn soup or makki ki roti. With the advent of technology varieties of corn are not only being imported but also being grown locally. Dishes such as baby corn haray pyaz ki sabzi, corn pulao are some of the Indian dishes available in restaurants across the city.”

In India, corn is not so popular because the availability is very seasonal. “Obnoxious prices of imported corn make it even less popular. Even the quality is very average,” says Chef Shamsul, Head Chef Smoke House Grill and Smoke House Deli. The restaurant serves a unique corn dish called ‘corn on the cob’, which is boiled in milk, and honey and served with butter and lime.

“Even then, this is more of a side dish. Here, it doesn’t stand out as a single ingredient and generally has to be paired with something else unlike other forms of starch such as wheat and rice,” says Shamsul.

Recipe of Baby corn Halwa
Wash the baby corn and put them in a pressure cooker for one whistle. Now, turn it into a paste (as thick as coconut chutney), with sugar (according to taste) and milk.

In a wok, add 4 teaspoons of ghee. Add nuts like almonds and cashew to it and roast it. Add a tea spoon of cardamom powder to it. Also add the grounded mixture and keep stirring, till it thickens. Garnish it with dry fruits and serve it.