The wonder of Corn….Across time,nations and taste.

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Every time we go to watch a movie in a multiplex or visit a food court in some mall the aroma of buttered sweet corn in all its variations are hard to resist.If we are thinking of a vegetarian starter for our party Crispy Sweet Chilli Baby Corn or a Corn on the Cob are a common choice.If we have a vegetarian friend coming over  a Corn Mushroom Pulao is always an easy choice.Corns in all is forms have really caught the imagination and the palate  of the urban Indian from the last ten years .Corn or bhutta  however has been a staple in rural Indian vegetarian household in the central and northern parts of India since historical periods.The history of corn and how it evolved in cuisines worldwide is worth a study.

People living in Central Mexico developed corn at least 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called Teosinite. Teosinite looked very different from the corn we see today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn. From Mexico maize spread north into the Southwestern United States and south down the coast to Peru. About 1000 years ago, as Indian people migrated north to the eastern woodlands of present day North America, they brought corn with them. When Columbus “discovered” America, he also discovered corn. During the first Thanksgiving celebrated in 1621 while sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not on the menu, Indian corn certainly was. Columbus received corn as a gift from the Indians he encountered in the Caribbean and carried it back to Spain, where it quickly caught on and became a staple. With a short time, it was grown in Europe and through out the world. The process of maize domestication radically changed it from its origins. Modern maize has hundreds of exposed kernels attached to a cob which is completely covered by husks and so cannot reproduce on its own..The earliest undisputed domesticated maize cobs were from Guila Naquitz cave in Guerrero, Mexico, dated about 4280-4210  BC. Eventually, maize spread out from Mexico, probably by the diffusion of seeds along trade networks rather than migration of people. It was used in the southwestern United States by about 3,200 years ago, and in the eastern United States beginning about 2,100 years ago. Young corn was used as a vegetable, and the dry kernels were ground into flour and used for baking. People also learned to prepare the corn into bread, soup, pudding and fried corn cakes. Today, corn has become the most widely grown crop in the western hemisphere. It is a staple in Latin American diets, and in the United States alone corn has given rise to regional specialties as Grits, Hush Puppies, Ashcakes, Dodgers, Muffins, Cracklin’ Bread, Johnny Cakes, and Corn Pone.

European settlers were content with this colorful corn until the summer of 1779 when they found something more delectable — a yellow variety with sweeter and more  tender kernels. This unusual variety came to light that year after George Washington ordered a scorched-earth campaign against Iroquois tribes. While the militia was destroying the food caches of the Iroquois and burning their crops, soldiers came across a field of extra-sweet yellow corn. According to one account, a lieutenant named Richard Bagnal took home some seeds to share with others. Our old-fashioned sweet corn is a direct descendant of these spoils of war.

While western cuisine has effortlessly experimented and incorporated corn it is only in recent time that corn is being blended with Indian flavors suiting the Indian palate.Whether it is a plateful of Corn Fritters-clusters of corn,gram flour and spices   fried crisp or it is a Kebab made out of corn, potatoes and cheese the option for a spread is endless. Choose between a Corn Pomegranate Salad or a Corn Potato thick Soup as a starter. Don’t forget to make Baby Corn Pakodas or  a Corn Tart with cheese. Serve the Corn Pulao with a Charcoal roasted Corn and a Corn Capsicum Masala .Regional cuisine in India too has incorporated corn or bhutta for some time now.Whether it is the famous Makki da Roti using corn flour in Punjab or the Bhutte ki Keesh -the famous street food of Indore ,corn has been used in various regional variations.

There is nothing more comforting than a movie date with your bestie and a cup of buttered corn in the middle…..the sweetness,the crunch ,the buttery texture….Keep enjoying life .


Author: ranjinipinky

Always happy when it comes to food and travel.Love looking beyond the cuisine and beyond the known landscape.Food describes a person,a culture ,a nation and a psyche.Both foodscape and landscape of a place joins together to weave the history of the place.My endeavor is to travel through that history,enrich myself and evolve continuously.Be my co- traveler through this enriching experience.

7 thoughts on “The wonder of Corn….Across time,nations and taste.”

  1. A wonderful write up with a perfect blend of history with culinary passion. Just stick to your domain and keep flourishing on it. Well done Ranjini!


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