The Maya Indians of South America have a quaint legend about the origin of corn or maize (botanical name, Zea mays). An ant found some corn and cached it away in a hole in the mountain. He collected so much corn that the other animals got a whiff! They petitioned the gods to send a bolt of lightning that split open the mountain and revealed the corn. The animals gifted the corn to the gods who used it to create the first human beings. The corn people were so perfect, that the gods clouded their sight to prevent them from competing with their makers! Corn travelled from the Americas to Europe and Africa and thence to Asia in the ships of the 15th and 16th century explorers. Today, North America is the largest producer in the world, followed by China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and India. The USA is also the inventor of cornflakes, the modern world’s most preferred breakfast food. Cornmeal, the flour milled from dried corn kernels, is used to make a thick porridge in many countries – be it polenta or mamaliga in Europe, mush in North America or mealie pap in Africa. It makes for tasty bread and the famous tortillas and taco shells of Mexican cuisine. The desi version is hot makki di roti with a dollop of fresh butter!
Corn on the cob or bhutta, is another favourite snack. Try the Bhuna Bhutta, roasted to perfection, garnished with chilli flakes and sugar, and brushed with butter and a hint of lemon juice to warm your insides on a cold winter evening. Corn kernels off the cob transform into scrumptious Sesame Corn Toast and Hot Chilli Corn. Make tasty Sweetcorn Vegetable Soup, crunchy Peppery Corn and Tomato Salad and Babycorn and Avocado Salad from tender, juicy sweetcorn and babycorn cobs. Corn Canapés, Corn Handvo, Corn Bhel and Corn Patties are just the starters you need to get the party going! And for the main course, combine corn with cream, mushrooms, paneer, yogurt, rice and vegetables to prepare filling dishes like Sweetcorn Kadhi, Malai Makai Palak, Methi Matar Makai, Makai ki Khichdi and Khumb Makai Pulao.
Did You Know?
• Cornflour or cornstarch is the pure starch extracted from corn, used to thicken soups and stock.
• Popcorn is a special variety of corn kernel that ‘pops’ when heated into a fluffy, white starchy mass.
Tips on Buying, Cooking and Storing Corn
• Look for corn cobs that have fresh green husks that fit tightly, golden brown silk and tips that are not dry or decayed.
• The kernels should be plump and evensized, not dried and hard.
• Cook corn as soon as you buy it because its natural sweetness decreases as it ages.
• Store the cobs in a refrigerator if not using immediately.
The Low Calorie Food One 7-inch or 17-cm long raw cob of corn has:
Total Fat: 1g