Sweetcorn Daal Chowder
Contemporary Vegetarian Curry
Recently we’ve been suffering from a developed world affliction, we’re the latest victims in this spreading pandemic. The symptoms were subtle, dashing for public transport, (something an old flame made me promise never to do) not watching any of the Mad Men box set episodes. Forgetfulness half way through a conversation....“sorry what was I saying?” a mounting stack of half thumbed books, an unloved garden, re-arranged diary dates and a growing ‘to do list’. Yes we’re well and truly below the plumb line of time poverty. A slow and gnawing process of erosion, eating at the pie crust edges of time until there’s very little to go round. Our wake-up call came in the form of friends, Carol and Ed to whom we’d promised many months earlier an evening of unhurried time. The weekend arrived on a bullet train and it was time to say ‘no’ to the forces of time erosion and devote this precious commodity to creating something which could be enjoyed slowly.
Perhaps a little experimentation. Something simple to start followed by a mix of sweet and sour, some fire and smoothed out with a little silkiness escorted by the refreshing touch of Kachumber Salsa.
Sweet and sour came in the form of daal...but wait no traditional lentil recipe here. With the decks of time cleared a more creative approach was required.Cobs of sweetcorn were shaved, kernels pulped, simmered and prepared with a tarka served with swirls of homemade date and tamarind chutney. Pork vindaloo would fire up the proceedings whilst Aubergine Atolls would provide textural exploration. Modern Indian vegetarian curry recipes with a Goan pork favourite.
For now, here’s the sweetcorn daal, which will delight and surprise. It’s tangy, affordable and possibly one of the best singular ways of using this happy ingredient rather than patronising it by simply boiling it. If you fancy the other dishes...well you’ll simply have to carve out the time and come back for a second helping.
Serve with a splash of date and tamarind chutney, hot flatbread or as a side.
- 500g of sweetcorn kernels or 4 cobs
- 350ml water
- 100g butter
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 inches root ginger, chopped
- Small white onion sliced
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 whole green chillies
- 3 tbs of corn oil
Date & Tamarind Chutney
- 20 dried dates (stoned)
- 100ml water
- 3tsp of tamarind paste
- 3 tsp sugar
Peel the silks and the strings off the cobs and shave them of their kernels with a sharp knife using a downward action (stand cobs on their end into a large bowl to do this), you’ll be left with a stubby trunk. Boil the kernels in 350ml of water for 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon scoop the kernels into a blender and pulp until the mix is bobbly and the husks have been removed. Return the corn back to the pan of water and cook for a further 15 minutes until the consistency has become chowder like. If it becomes too sludgy add a little water to this vegetarian curry.
For the tarka, fry the onions in a separate pan until opaque, add the mustard seeds and as soon as they start popping add the cumin seeds, garlic and ginger. Fry the mix making sure the onion is coated in the whole spices and the ginger and garlic are starting to crisp a little. Add the whole chillies and cook until their skin bloats. Empty all the ingredients into a bowl and cover immediately to capture the aroma...this is alchemy at work and it’ll transform the sweetcorn into the realms of fantasy when added. Just before serving, stir the tarka into the hot sweetcorn, swirling it through, splashing a friendly measure of the date and tamarind chutney on top for sweetness.