Corn Pilaf

Prep

10 min

Cook

15 min
Tons of corn dishes and the tales inter-wined with it came before my eyes when I was holding a fresh corn in my hand. As I walked from one end of my kitchen to another, with every step I took, I was thinking about the roasted corn from Marina beach to my amma’s simple steamed corn to my neighbour’s corn parathas to C aunty’s corn soup to Hyderabad’s Corn club chaats. Every dish is utterly delicious and addictive. I was so lost in those thoughts and I am still stuck in that world.
The first one to remember was this. During summer breaks, its family time in Marina beach, South India on Pournamni night(Fullmoon). Marina beach on the Bay of Bengal is the second largest beach in the world and it is the place for city dwellers to walk and play on an evening.And it’s the same for us too. We play in the water, eat the local foods, sing songs, share jokes and finally wrap the funfilled evening by watching the silvery sea dance in the moonlight. I parked my car in the extreme end of Marina beach and walked with my amma, appa and D through the parking lot inhaling the scents of food. Face of an old lady clad in orange cotton sari with a big red dot (sindoor) on her forehead stood out from the crowd. She looked tanned and weak and she smiled displaying her beetal stained teeth. She was sitting on a chair made from a container turned upside down, with hot oil bubbling over a large pot in front of her. Every time she sliced the plantains, her red glass bangles danced to the rhythm of her movement and the oil hissed when the paper thin plantains came in touch with it, in the background the music of the waves, everything together sounded like a symphony to me . She was making hot vegetable fritters (bhajji). As she saw me watching her, she pointed to a board that read “1 plate for Rs.10” and with a wide grin she asked whether I wanted some. I waved my hand asking her to wait for my cousins to arrive. There in the distance I saw streaks of fire erupting like firefly in the air. A man in white shirt was roasting corn on the cob. My mouth was sensing the taste of lightly charred corn rubbed with fresh cut lemon dipped in chilli powder-salt rub. I could hear the crunch of my first bite, licking the generous lemon juice drippings and the kick in the tongue while tasting the salty-spicy corn kernels, Hardly able to resist the taste, I pulled D along and walked fast to that stall and ordered 2, one for me and other for her. To wash it down, I drank the gingery sugarcane juice. If someone asks me about the things to do before one dies, one food that would top the list will be roasted corn and sugarcane juice from my good old Marina beach.
The next one was school years summer time. Till about Grade 8, my after school snack during summer was steamed corn. I absolutely love the way my amma’s kitchen would smell ofย  steamed corn, especially the smell of the steam from the pressure cooker. Those smells are the days that take me to my school years. Corn screams at me “Hey girl, its summer time”. With generous amount butter smothered over its body and a dash of salt, my teeth will greedily sink into the chubby kernels. As I bite one, the plump kernel will explode releasing its juice that will drip down my chin. Aw!!! I love corns
Now when I write this post another significant person who comes by my mind is C aunty and her corn dishes. She is an extraordinary cook who would share tips on how to pre-cook certain dishes and freeze them. That was something totally new to my mom’s style of cooking which is fresh and everyday. Hence I am always ears to her. C aunty’s soups, seafood and meat dishes are something I can talk about for days together and one such dish which made me think about her today was her vegetable soup with corn. The creamy corn soup will be perfectly balanced with crunchy veggies, whole spices and milk. It is a well balanced tasty soup and she would serve it with masala pappads.
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Then I remember my final year project guide at Dr.Reddy’s lab. My friend S and myself were new to Hyderabad and when we were exploring the culinary side of the place, he suggested a chaat centre called Corn club, a place where every chaat item will have corn as a key ingredient. Wow, doesn’t that sound exciting. After one long day at work, we took the bus to this place and enjoyed corn bhel chaat and corn papdi chaat.
Then I hear a baby crying. I turn and see my little one crying. I leave behind those memories and step into the present. After pampering him, I head to the kitchen to whip a dish for this week’s Summerfest- Corn. Now you know why I was dreaming about corn. I have made pulao with carrots, beans and corn in UK. Even in my wildest dream, I would not have thought about adding corn to rice but as a student, those frozen vegetable packets were sold in bulk and they were pre-cut too, so it saves time and money. During weekends, I would make pulao with all the veggies in it. That way I started to like corn in rice dishes. This dish is inspired from my carrot-peas pulao.Today’s dish is no different, I am making a simple pilaf with corn, coconut milk and chicken stock. Simple ingredient yet incredible in taste. Sweetness from corn and onions mingle beautifully with the green chillies and rice cooked with mild spices. The use of chicken stock made the rice more flavorful and spices made it aromatic. Corn pilaf is prefect for a larger crowd too.

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Serves 4
Ingredients
Basmatic rice – 4 cups
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cloves
2 cardamons
1 bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 large onion – thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 green chillies – slit
1 cup cooked corn kernels
1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
1.5 cups water
Salt to taste
Method
Wash the basmati rice in running water and soak them in excess water for minimum 30 minutes. I soaked mine for hours.
Heat butter and let it melt. Once hot, add the fennel seeds, cardamons, cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Saute for a minute. Add the green chillies and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the minced ginger and garlic and cook for further 30 seconds.
Add the onions and little salt. Cook covered for 8 minutes on low flame, until lightly browned. Pour the coconut milk, chicken stock and water. Bring it to a boil. Once bubbling, reduce the flame to low. Add the cooked corn kernels, cilantro and pre-soaked rice. Stir well to combine.
Cook covered for 15minutes. Switch off the flame and let it untouched for 15minutes.
Before serving, create streaks using a fork. This will fluff out the rice well.
Serve hot with raita, pappads and spicy curry. I served mine with kathirikai chalna (baby eggplants cooked in tamarind-coconut gravy).
Yummy corn dishes from my friend:
Dishin and Dishes: Kicked Up Creamed Corn From Scratch
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Fresh Corn Salsa with Basil and Mint
Zaika Zabardast: Fresh Corn Risotto
What’s Gaby Cooking: Spicy Corn Salsa
CIA Dropout: Truffle Roasted Corn Kohlrabi Soup
Cooking Channel: Fresh Corn Muffins
Food for 7 Stages of Life: Corn on the Cob Korma
FN Dish: Southwest Corn Recipes
Daily*Dishin: Sweet Corn and Couscous Main Dish Salad
Pinch My Salt: Peter Reinhart’s Fresh Cut Corn Bread with Bacon
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Corn & Watermelon Salad
Virtually Homemade: Summer Corn Salad
Food2: Creamed Corn Cornbread
Virtually Vegan Mama: Thai Corn Soup
Sunshine and Smile: Scallops with Corn and Pepper Sauce
Spices N Aroma: Corn Pilaf
The Sensitive Epicure: Fresh Corn Fritters with Chive Lemon Chipotle Yogurt (Gluten-Free)
Dixie Chick Cooks: Fresh Corn with Basil Slaw and Feta
Cooking With Books: Corn Favorites
Purple Cook: Corn on the Cob with Cilantro

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  1. mmm..corn in pulao is one of my favorite things..i make one with corn and dried methi in it!

  2. Woww… looks simply delicious and perfect.. beautiful presentation too.. thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. You took me back to Chennai and you took me back to the beaches I love and enjoy the most. This is a fantastic dish to cook with corn.. loving every bit of it!

  4. I always have a packet of frozen in my freezer. It's always handy. Pilaf looks delicious

  5. Woww… looks simply delicious and perfect.. beautiful clicks too.. thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. hi vijitha,

    kalakkare po. the brinjal ……. Fine. Vikram sent your blog address
    Hema, vikram's mom

  7. Vijitha,

    Kalakkre. Vikram sent your blog address. Best wishes. Brinjal………

    Hema, vikram's mom

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