I've always associated curries with smooth sauces, rich and pungent, a luxurious, complex blending of flavors surrounding long-simmered vegetables or meat. I think that's a pretty common conception. Which was why this recipe from famed Indian cookbook author (and actress) Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking caught me off guard. Using produce from the height of summer, this curry turns corn and tomato into a dish entirely unfamiliar.
The flavors start with cumin and mustard seeds, then proceed with an herby shot of mint leaves, spicy green chiles, and the richness of coconut milk. Yet the corn still stays crisp and fresh and plays beautifully off the sweet tomatoes and creamy potatoes.
I served it with rice and plain yogurt and followed Jaffrey's advice: make this curry "as hot as you can manage." The spicy, sweet, and sour flavors are marvelous.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium cooked waxy potato, cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 1 medium tomato, cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
- 1-2 fresh hot green chiles, or more to taste
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels
- 3 ounces coconut milk
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- cayenne pepper, to taste
In a large (12-inch) non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the mustard seeds and 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin seeds. Cook until the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the garlic and potatoes. Cook, stirring often, until the potatoes turn golden.
Add the tomato, cilantro, mint, and green chile. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer, then add the corn and stir to combine. Add coconut milk, salt, and lemon juice. Stir and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the corn is cooked through.
In the meantime, toast the remaining cumin seeds in a dry skillet over high heat until fragrant and darkening in color, but not yet burned. Stir the toasted cumin seeds into the corn mixture and season with black pepper and cayenne to taste. Serve immediately.