My weekly basket from Teamwork CSA has been overflowing with fantastic organic produce; cobs of corn, cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, onions, radishes, and the most perfect bright green coriander. Throughout the summer the following three recipes have made their way onto my plate at various separate meals. However, this past week they all finally met, introduced themselves to each other, mingled on my thali and in my mouth resulting in a flavourful, light and immediately satisfying meal. In an effort to try and keep summer from leaving us I plan to make this meal at least a couple more times in the following weeks.
Grilled Corn with Chaat Masala
The great thing about walking the streets of Delhi is happening upon a random roadside food stall. Typically it is either someone selling some variation of chaat , chai or cooking something over coals. There was one vendor I would occasionally visit who would change his simple menu with the seasons. Most memorable was his winter dish of boiled sweet potato which caramelized as it was reheated over the coals. A close second was his monsoon special of aromatic bhuna bhutta (roasted corn). He would take fresh cobs of corn and slowly roast them until the outside was a deep brown. He would then dip a wedge of lemon into a chilli/salt mixture and liberally spread it all over the cob. I loved getting the heat from the spices and the smokiness from the grilling. I always anticipated the juicy tender kernels of the sweet corn that my family would buy from the Mennonite farms in our area (when in Ontario) but would find the kernels from the street vendor slightly chewier than I would prefer (due to the variety of corn grown around Delhi).
1 or 2 cobs of corn per person, shucked and well cleaned
3 tbsp chaat masala ¼ wedge of lime per cob of corn
finely chopped coriander
salt, and pepper if desired
dental floss for afterwards!!
Preheat grill/ barbeque until very hot. Place cobs of corn over medium high heat and grill for 10-15 minutes. The corn needs to be periodically rotated so that it all cooks evenly. The kernels should be nicely browned or even just lightly blackened. As the corn cooks, mix cayenne, cumin and smoky paprika in a shallow bowl. Cut limes into quarters. Remove the corn from grill and set aside. Take a lime wedge and lightly press each cut side into the spice mixture.
Note: If you prefer, you can pre boil the corn and then grill, if desired.
If you do not have chaat masala you can simply make a quick spice mixture with the following spices:
1 Tbsp cayenne (reduce cayenne if you prefer less ‘heat’) 1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground paprika
Green Coriander and Coconut Chutney (makes 1 ¼ cup)
The best version of this recipe that I tasted was shared with me by Aggi, the owner of The Cozy Nook Resort on Palolem beach in South Goa. I’m not sure if it was the slow burning sunset, the bottles of beer or the conversation of remaining longer on this paradise beach but the balance of flavours of Aggi’s chutney were well balanced and fantastic. The chutney is typically served with Portuguese inspired bread rolls, pau, a buttermilk-like soft roll. On occasion, I reduce the amount of coconut and increase the amount of coriander to make a somewhat looser chutney. I then spread it in the opening of a small fish, like red snapper, then broil or grill it for a simple meal.
2 cups coriander leaves
½ cup grated coconut, fresh or frozen (unsweetened desiccated can be used in a pinch)
2 green cayenne chillies
1 tbsp garlic
1 tbsp ginger
4 tbsp tamarind liquid or chutney
1 tsp jaggery or sugar
Juice of 2 limes
Salt, to taste
Roughly chop the coriander. Place all ingredients in a blender. Puree for a minute. Scrape down the sides of the blender bowl with a spatula to incorporate all of the ingredients. Puree again. If you find that the mixture is not becoming a fine paste, add some water, a tablespoon each time, to get the ingredients to blend well. You may need to add up to 3-4 tbsp of water depending on your blender. The texture of the chutney should be similar to a pesto. Refrigerate for 2 days.
Kachumber Salad (serves 4)
Kachumber (or kachoomber) salad is typically a small dice of cucumber, tomato and onion accented with some chile and ground cumin, occasionally mixed with yogurt raita style, and served as a side dish to a meal- whether a simple paratha, dal, biryani or curry. There are many regional variations all over India. I love eating salads, but slightly chunkier and perhaps more ‘Western’ in style.
1 cup tomatoes (preferably heirloom), cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
¾ cup red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup bell pepper (preferably yellow, red or a mixture), cored, seeded and cut into bite sized pieces
5 radishes, thinly sliced
1 green cayenne chile, finely chopped
1tsp cumin seeds, toasted, finely ground
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lime (2-3 tbsp)
1/4 cup coriander leaves, roughly torn or chopped
2 tbsp cup mint, roughly torn or chopped
Place cut vegetables, chile and herbs in a large bowl and season with ground cumin (to your taste), salt and pepper. Sprinkle with lime juice and toss well and serve immediately.