If all our growing up years were to be condensed into a single nugget, what would it contain? There was so much play, and there was so much done on impulse. There was music that soothed the senses as it poured out of vintage gramophones, and books that were read cuddled up under the bed in a little pool of torch light. There was scope for carefree moments that involved dancing in the rain, and hopscotch being played until the bones creaked. There were games invented during power cuts, even as shadows on the wall teased us from an arm’s length. And then there was food. Food smothered in Mother’s love, food cooked by grandma on a wood-fired stove, and food devoured at the wayside shacks without a moment’s thought for anything else but the appetite, sometimes washed down with a pop of cola.
Corn-on-the-cob is probably at the top of that list. It brings back a rush of tender, warm memories..of rain, lips burning from the dust of fiery, hot chili powder, and the sweet aftertaste of the fleshy corn kernels lingering on until it was time for the next meal. This recipe, inspired by that childhood memory, is stellar on all counts. It has the zest of corn-on-the-cob, conveniently spruced up and mashed down. You can scoop it up, one spoon at a time, and eat it all on its own, or use it as a dip or a spread – whatever soothes your soul. This right here, is what we call – a true taste of nostalgia, in a bowl.
Fire-roasted Corn Dip
- 1 corn cob
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 4 pods garlic, minced and smashed
- to taste Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- Shuck and then roast the corn cob on the flames or grill. Cut out the corn kernels while holding the corn upright on a plate. Grind the kernels to a paste in a grinder, adding the stock as needed to achieve a smooth paste. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small nonstick saucepan or kadai set on medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and sweat them for a few minutes, with a generous pinch of salt.
- Once the onions just begin to turn golden add the tomato and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Now add all the spices (red chilli powder, paprika, white pepper and cumin powder) and toast them briefly.
- Transfer the corn paste to the pan. Stir well and cook, covered, on low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the dip to a bowl and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top. Dust with a pinch of paprika, if desired.
- Serve the dip hot, warm or at room temperature.