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Indian spices make sweet corn ‘street corn’

Slicing the kernels off two-dozen ears as the clock closes in on 10 p.m. will sour anyone on sweet corn.

But my partner and I had stocked up on the season’s last crop from nearby Coats Ranch and needed to preserve it for the cold season ahead before it languished too long in the husks. Our fridge was jam-packed with so many other farm- and garden-fresh items, however, that the corn had been biding its time all day at warm room temperature.

And although we’d been filling up on fresh corn at mealtimes for more than a week, I set a few ears aside to incorporate in our coming menus. But how many ways could I combine sweet corn with cherry tomatoes, summer squash and chiles? The answer lies in mixing up the seasonings.

Latin-inspired elotes and esquites have been featured in this blog’s past posts, as well as Asian-fusion fried rice and even Korean corn cheese. Now it’s India’s turn to lend the spice palette for sweet corn.

This recipe from Food Network could complement just about any protein or carry the plate with an addition of grilled meat or seafood. I’d serve it alongside lamb kebabs with warm flatbread. It could even be stuffed into zucchini or eggplant boats and run under the broiler. Sprinkle with more fresh herbs before serving.

Tribune News Service photo

Indian Street Corn Salad

3 large ears corn, shucked

Olive oil, as needed

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon or less cayenne pepper

Big pinch ground cardamom

Big pinch chaat masala or garam masala

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup halved cherry or sugarplum tomatoes

1 or 2 sprigs fresh mint, leaves thinly sliced

Small handful fresh cilantro, leaves rustically ripped into bite-size pieces

Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and heat until just beginning to smoke. Rub the corn with the olive oil and carefully place in pan. Cook until corn is charred in patches all around and has turned golden brown, for 20 to 25 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the lime juice, cumin, cayenne, cardamom, chaat or garam masala, salt and pepper to taste. Slice kernels off cobs and place in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, mint and cilantro. Toss with dressing, taste for seasoning and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe by Aarti Sequeira, via Food Network