Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spicy Roasted Corn - Bhutta (* category winner of salon dot com Kitchen Challenge)

Glorious corn!

It is available to us in so many delicious forms. One of my favorite ways to eat it is roasted. It is fresh, hot and messy (for those who like to get their hands dirty while eating like me). Corn on the cob is a street food in most cultures where it is available. In my present home of New York city, 'Hot Corn Girls' of the early 19th century were the predecessors of the present day hot dog vendors.  

My earliest association of this food takes me back to the streets of South-East Asia. The spice rub used in this preparation was for me, by far, the most delicious version. The corn vendors appeared on the roadsides at the onset of the monsoon season. The bright, savory and tart taste was a perfect accompaniment to the overcast, ominous skies. Today, as these streets are being battered by incessant rains and floods, I share my spiced recipe as a tribute to these vendors in particular and the resilience of the human spirit in general, whether it is in the face of tsunamis, hurricanes or floods.

4 corn on the cob
2 lemons
1 tbsp melted butter

Spice rub:
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp red chilli pepper
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp amchoor (mango powder- available at most Indian grocery stores), optional

Serves 4
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Shuck the corn, removing the husk and corn silk. Lay the corn in the oven on foil and roast for 10 minutes each side.  Remove, lightly brush with butter and put back in the oven changing the setting to broil high. Broil each side for about 3 minutes.
Separately, mix all the spice mix ingredients and slice the lemon into two halves.
Remove the corn from the oven when nicely browning. Lightly squeeze the lemon and use the juice to absorb the spice mix and apply directly to the corn on the cob.
Serve piping hot. 

Note: For more information on the SA floods and to contribute in any way, please visit or

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crazy Pot - Deewani Handi

This is one whimsical, colorful, crazy dish that combines winter greens and root vegetables to deliver a hearty, extremely nutritious and delicious punch. To put it simply, it is choke full of everything that is good for the body. In the recipe, I have mentioned specific greens and root vegetables. Feel free to substitute and/or add other available vegetables that falls in these two categories, i.e., kale, collard greens, parsnip, etc. This dish was eaten on cool, lazy winter days with plain, fragrant basmati rice.

1 medium potatoes
2-3 medium carrots
2 japanese eggplant
1/2 cauliflower
2 turnips with leaves (if available)
1 bunch fenugreek leaves (if available)
1 bunch spinach
1 handful dill
1 handful coriander leaves
1 cup peas
4 green chillies
11/2 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. red chilli powder
11/2 tsp. coriander powder
1 lemon

1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. fenugreek seeds

salt to taste

Serves 4-6 people
Prep: 20 mins
Cooking time: 40 hr

Separate the turnips and the leaves. Put the leaves aside.
Dice the potatoes, carrots, turnip and eggplant.
Detach the flower heads of the cauliflower.
Combine the above in a baking dish, toss with some oil and half of the spice mixture.
Roast in 425 degree, preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

Chop all the greens (including the turnip leaves) finely.
Toss these in the remaining spice mixture and sit to marinate for the same amount of time.

Heat oil and add the cumin and fenugreek seeds.
Allow to sizzle and then add the marinated and roasted vegetables.
Cook on med-high heat till the greens condense and liquid rises. Add a splash of water if the vegetables are sticking.
Finally, add the peas, green chillies and herbs and salt to taste.
Reduce heat and cook till the liquid reduces.
Garnish with cilantro and lemon slices.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simple Lentil Stew - Arhar ki Daal

This daal is a regional comfort food. It has a lingering, nutty taste and is available two ways; plain or oily. I have used the plain one for this recipe. The preparation is minimalistic. It is best when eaten with plain white rice and achaar. 

2 cup Arhar daal (toor or pigeon pea lentil)
2 clove Garlic (minced)
2 tsp. crushed red chilli
4 tbsp oil
2 clove Garlic (sliced)
4-5 Red chilli (whole)
Salt to taste

Serves 4-5 people

Bring the daal to boil in 2 cups of water on high heat.
Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 15-20 minutes.
Add salt, minced garlic and the crushed red chilli flakes and mash thoroughly with a slotted spoon.
Cover and let cook for another 20 minutes or more till the desired consistency is reached.

Separately, heat oil on med-hi heat.
Add sliced garlic and whole red chillies.
When the garlic starts carmelizing (will take only a few moments), remove from heat and add to daal.
Cover the sizzling dish and smoke the daal for 10-15 seconds.
Uncover the dish and scoop two ladles of daal into the still hot pan and let it absorb the residual tadka before adding back into the dish and covering again.