07/01/13 10:28am

Desify: From Juhu to You—Spicy Indian Grilled Corn

Bhutta (Spicy Grilled Corn on the Cob). Photo by Anne Noyes Saini.

Photo by Anne Noyes Saini.

The food vendors at Mumbai’s Juhu Beach could teach the world a thing or two about corn on the cob.

Grilled over coals until the sweet kernels are nicely blackened and then rubbed with lime juice and a potent mixture of spices, corn on the cob (bhutta in Hindi) is a popular street food in India. It’s an irresistible combination of sweet, tangy, smoky, and salty-spicy flavors. (We love you, elotes, but bhutta is better!)

Like most New Yorkers, I have neither a grill—nor a place to cook outside. (Fire on a fire escape, anyone?) Instead, I grill corn on the cob over the gas range in my kitchen.

It’s an ideal summer side dish—light but incredibly flavorful. This recipe, with its generous use of ground red pepper, will leave your mouth humming with spicy heat well after your meal.

Bhutta masala (spice mixture). Photo by Anne Noyes Saini.

Bhutta masala (spice mixture). Photo by Anne Noyes Saini.

Grilled Corn on the Cob (Bhutta) / serves 4

4 ears sweet corn
1 lime, cut into small wedges
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground red pepper (if you don’t like spicy food, reduce or omit this ingredient)
1 teaspoon black salt (or any finely ground salt is fine)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (for best results, heat cumin seeds in a pan for a minute; then grind them by hand)

Mix black pepper, red pepper (optional), salt, and ground cumin; set aside.

Grill corn over a medium flame (for about 5 minutes), rotating until all sides are well charred. (Don’t worry about ominous popping noises or burning smells—that’s all part of the fun!)

Dip a wedge of lime in the spice mixture and rub the lime and spices against the corn. Dip your lime wedge in the spice mixture several times, in order to thoroughly coat all sides. Be sure to apply enough pressure to squeeze out all the lime juice.

Check out Anne Noyes Saini’s ongoing food + audio projects on SoundCloud.

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