Spiced corn on the cob is a perfect summer side dish that takes the sweetness of fresh corn and adds coconut milk, cumin, cilantro, mustard seeds, and a squeeze of lemon. A riff on roasted the north Indian corn sold by street vendors for a tasty afternoon snack.
Corn on the cob, roasted over live charcoal, fills the air with delicious aromas in the streets of north India. The vendors brush the cobs with melted butter and sprinkle them with black salt, chiles, and other spices. In this recipe, I’ve chosen to simmer it instead but you still get the same great flavors as the vendor corn that I love.
Fresh corn is usually used for this vegan treat, but you can use frozen if you wish-–just make sure you thaw the cobs slightly before slicing them.–Mridula Baljekar
Spiced Corn on the Cob
- 4 ears corn* fresh or frozen and thawed, shucked
- 2/3 cup coconut milk preferably full-fat
- 2 dried red chiles chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt plus more as needed
- Scant 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 fresh green chiles such as jalapeño or serrano, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Slice corn cobs into 1/2-inch (1cm) rounds and place in a large skillet. Add coconut milk, red chiles, salt, and water.
- Set the skillet over high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Just before the end of the cooking time, in a small skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until hot, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, followed by the cumin seeds. Let them pop for 5 to 10 seconds then pour the contents of the skillet over the corn.
*What’s the easiest way to cut through a cob of corn?Let’s face it, hacking through a cob of corn isn’t an easy kitchen task unless you have a decent vegetable cleaver, but we have a few suggestions for you. First, if you want to halve your cobs, they’re usually easier to snap with your hands, rather than sawing away at them. If you’re looking for those cute little slices, however, that can still be done. Take this advice from our testers–younger, thinner cobs of corn will be more tender and easier to cut through than mature ones. As well, a serrated knife will work like a charm–a bread knife is perfect for this.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The headnote to this recipe evoked the image and aroma of corn roasting over coals, and I have to admit that when I realized the recipe was for simmered corn, I felt like the victim of a bait and switch. But it turns out the con worked in my favor, because this spiced corn on the cob was at least as delicious as any grilled corn.
There were a number of times in the process of making the recipe when I wanted to second-guess it. Surely, I need more water, I thought. I’ve already added two dried chiles, and now I add fresh chile? Surely, that will be too much. But I did what we are supposed to do as testers and carried on with the recipe as written, and was rewarded with a platter of perfectly tender, perfectly seasoned, luxuriously messy rings of corn. We loved it!
One tip to make your life easier: select young, tender, thinner ears of corn here. They’re a lot easier to cut into rings. I was lucky that the ones I had happened to be thin and tender, but I’ve cut enough mature ears in my day to know that I wouldn’t want to have to deal with them for this recipe.
I really liked this recipe. I was on my own for lunch with 2 cobs of corn and leftover fried chicken so this seemed the perfect time to try this recipe for spiced corn on the cob. It’s easy to adjust quantities up or down and I can see it served a few different ways. For an addictive and messy snack keeping the corn to 1 cm rounds, with a family meal cutting the cobs in half, and for dinner guests, cooked off the cob. The coconut milk adds a nice flavour and creaminess to the dish but isn’t overpowering.
Cutting the cobs is the most time-consuming part. I used a good heavy knife and rotated it around the fresh cob scoring it before cutting it off. Once I got the hang of it, it went fairly quickly. For my medium cobs, 1 cm was equal to 3 or 4 rows of kernels. My corn was tender-crisp in 9 minutes. I’m looking forward to having this dish again.
Originally published August 24, 2021