Amazing maize

Today these lines are dedicated to one of my favourite foods: golden cobs of maize or corn, call it makai…or call it bhutta….or in typical Punjabi – challi. Corn when properly roasted on live coals and served sprinkled lavishly with lemon juice and salt is a fulfilling mini meal by itself! These days, watching a movie in a multiplex can also be enhanced with a serving of chilli corn served hot. (Gone are the days of only samosas and popcorn being available at cinemas!)

Maize is an important cereal after rice and wheat. The tender ones are chiefly liked for the high sugar content. So the maize is also known as sweet corn. It would also interest you to know that the favourite popcorn, made by heating the small grains, is a wholesome cereal food and is easily digested. It has everything in the original grains of corn content. It is not fattening and practically starch free as in the process of popping, its starch is converted into dextrine and intermediate carbohydrates, a digestive product, which is easily assimilable.

Maize is prepared and consumed in various ways. It is usually ground and pounded and made into flour. Who can deny that sarson-da-saag and makke-di-roti (made from maize flour) is an international best seller!

Maize flour can also be used to add texture and nutritive qualities to bread. It can also be used as a thickening agent in soups and that it adds delicious flavour is an added bonus. One soup, of particular interest to me, is made of cauliflower stock with a bit of onion and thickened with makai flour paste. Throw in a few glowing gems of boiled green peas and the soup is a one-dish meal!

The refined cornflour should also be mentioned. It is used in cakes, biscuits and as a thickening agent in soups in gravies. Made by processing makai flour, cornflour is a lightweight ingredient in many kingly dishes. Another product of corn is the flattened corn grains known as makai poha. Deep fried and mixed with raisins, dried coconut bits, fried peanuts and seasoned with salt, red chilli and sugar, makai chiwda is an instant hit with guests.

To round off, here are some exciting maize recipes which amaze me with their simplicity.
Try them out this weekend…

Boondi aur Makai ki Bhel
Makai Palak
Corn Sevpuri

Till Monday then….happy cooking !

Sanjeev Kapoor.

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