Sunday, August 14, 2016

Creamed Corn With An Indian Slant

Summer's bounty always translates into something delicious. Long Island grown corn is sweetness personified. Any farmers market corn will yield the same taste. And for this style of creamed corn only fresh corn will do. No cans of corn, creamed or other. Frozen corn is not my choice, but could work in a pinch. It will not have the same taste and texture as fresh. 

You need a sharp knife to cut the kernels. Hold the shucked corn cob vertically as you propel you knife downwards. Stand the corn in a bowl or platter. Kernels have a tendency to fly in all directions if you don't do this carefully. It sounds like a complicated project, but once you get the hang of it, this task will seem a breeze. Or you could use a device that does the job for you. Either way, you should be left with a picked-clean corncob. The next trick is to try to get as much of the corn cream left on the cob. Use the back of your knife to scrape the cream onto corn kernels. These bits of corn puree adds a big flavor boost. Cumin and green chiles just barely lend a Indian slant. Milk gives it creaminess. A slow simmer results in a nuanced creamed corn. 

Serves 4-6

4 fresh ears of Corn
2 teaspoons Ghee or clarified Butter
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
3 green Chiles
4 tablespoons Water
1 cup whole or 2% Milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
Cilantro to garnish 

Remove husks and silk from corn. 

Hold one corncob vertically in a bowl and run a sharp knife downwards to cut off kernels. Rotate corncob till all kernels are removed. Keep corncob aside. Repeat process with other ears of corn.

Hold corncob vertically over kernels. Run the back of your knife from top to bottom of cob , trying to scrape as much pulp as you can off the cob. Repeat this with other corncobs. You might get a little as teaspoon or as much as a few tablespoons from each cob, depending on the quality of the corn.

Cut chiles into small chunks.

Heat ghee in a saucepan.

Splutter cumin seeds and chiles in ghee. Let cumin turn deep brown.

Dump corn into saucepan along with water and salt. Cover and let corn cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove lid.

Pour milk into corn and let milk come to a boil. Lower flame to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, till very little milk remains. The milk tends to form skin as it boils. Smoosh this skin into the corn with a spoon.

The corn is ready when you have trace amounts of milk left at the bottom of the pan. The corn shouldn't dry out completely.
You could remove chiles before serving, but that's optional.

Garnish with cilantro before serving.

Eating corn this way is my window into the past. I see huge copper vessels with corn being cooked over coal fires. I picture it on a banana leaf in my grandmas house. With a little effort I taste the past in the present. 

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