Sunday, September 13, 2009

Corn Curry

serves 4-ish

This dish is confused about its origins and lands about halfway between an Indian curry and a Thai curry. Since it’s very much coconut-based, I expect it would drift Thai-wards more easily than India-wards. I think it’s delicious as it is.


  • Two medium young onions with green tops (each smaller than half your fist)
  • Kernels from 2 ears sweet corn (about 2 cups)
  • One small japanese eggplant (the length of your hand)
  • Two medium yellow squash (the length of your hand)

Spices to toast:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 or 4 whole cardamom pods (or about 1/2 teaspoon seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Spices to add without toasting:

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 4 whole curry leaves, fresh or dried
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

The other stuff:

  • One 400-mL can coconut milk
  • Several tablespoons vegetable oil for sauteing
  • 2 tablespoons gin
  • 1 cup cashews


  1. Slice the onions into slivers, keeping the greens separate. Cut the corn kernels off the ear. Slice the eggplant and the yellow squash into chunks around 1/2” thick.
  2. Toast the whole spices in a dry pan over medium-low heat until they smoke, darken, and pop very enthusiastically. Have a container ready so they can come out of the pan immediately when they’re done.
  3. Grind the spices thoroughly in a mortar and pestle or a very clean coffee grinder.
  4. Saute the white portions of the onion and the ground spices with a generous splash of oil over medium heat until the onion is about halfway tender.
  5. Add the eggplant. Saute more, until the eggplant is halfway tender.
  6. Add the squash, cayenne, onion greens, and salt. Saute another few minutes.
  7. Add the corn, curry leaves, basil, coconut milk, and gin. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until everything is barely tender.
  8. Adjust the spicing to taste.
  9. Serve over jasmine rice, topped with cashews.

Notes to the Protocol:

(1). Feel free to substitute zucchini for the yellow squash. Just don’t use too large a specimen of either one, lest you suffer The Bland.

(3). If your mortar and pestle is like mine, grinding large volumes of spices can be a bit of a hassle. I like to work in several batches that fit comfortably in the mortar, and also to pour each batch through a sieve when it’s halfway ground, letting the fine material fall into the pan and returning the chunks to the grinder. Don’t worry about making every fragment fit through the sieve, just repeat a couple times until you can see that all the tooth-breakers (e.g. intact fenugreek seeds) are gone.

(5). Eggplant will pretty much absorb all the oil you can give it. Add more iff needed to prevent sticking.

(6). If the cashews are salted, leave the curry a touch under-salty so they balance (and in case your guests are like me and want to, y’know, taste something besides the salt once in a while).

(9). I actually love this over corn chips, but L maintains that it’s too chunky for that. Try your favorite carb and tell me if it works.

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