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Go crazy with corn

It wouldn’t be correct to say that corn can be enjoyed only during the monsoon season - it is a delicacy that can be enjoyed through the year. Corn in its many forms never fails to regale the taste buds of most foodies. They could be crisp pakodas and chips with cups of hot tea or coffee. Apart from these there is another thing which can thoroughly enjoyed and that is corn cobs, which are also known as bhuttas, roasted over coal fire, rubbed with red chilli powder, salt and lemon juice.

Ever wondered what is it about this golden globules that make us salivate at its very thought? We will talk about that later but first let us see what is this delicious corn and where it came from.

Origins of corn
To find the origins of corn we will need to travel to the western civilization when in 1492 Columbus's men discovered it in Cuba. Thence it was exported to Europe. At first Europe did not take corn seriously but this was short lived. Soon it came to be recognized as a valuable food grain. It took but a few years for it to spread throughout France, Italy, and all of southeastern Europe and northern Africa. And by 1575 people in western China, Philippines and East Indies became acquainted with it. Then it didn’t take long for corn to spread elsewhere in the world and rule over the hearts and palates of foodies.

The many forms of corn
It tastes just as great on and off the cob. Like I said earlier roast it over burning coals and it acquires a wonderful smoky flavour that you simply cannot resist. There is another way to enjoy the corn kernels. Just separate the kernels from the cob, boil it in water, add butter, salt and a dash of black pepper powder and then…then what, savour it of course.

Corn can also be enjoyed in the form of cornflour or cornstarch, you can call it by either name. It works as an excellent thickener as well as a binder. And of course corn meal too which is the basis of our makki do roti which goes oh so well with sarson da saag – the popular winter food of the people of Punjab.

Slurpy soup and more
The first thing that comes to my mind when see corn kernels is sweetcorn soup. It tastes just as delicious with either vegetables or chicken or crab. Slurp…the just the mention of this soup makes me smack my lips. There are perhaps very few people who do not enjoy this delicacy. Have it with some crispy garlic bread and you can make a complete meal of this combination. Most Sunday evenings, when we are at home we have this which augurs well after a heavy Sunday lunch comprising of an array of delicacies. Just some hot soup and bread – and I get to sleep dreamlessly and endlessly if it were not for Monday morning when work beckons.

Other things that can bring a smile on your face are pizza with corn topping, corn fritters, corn chowder, corn and pepper salad, corn salsa, corn burger, corn pancakes, corn cone, corn pie…phew these are but some of the many continental recipes. You can cook some delicious Indian recipes too like makki ki tikki, corn rabdi, makki di roti, makki murgh, corn raita, makki ka bharta, corn dhokla, corn upma…and a lot many delicious recipes.

Preserving the kernels
Since corn is so popular, it is important to preserve it right. So ground corn meal and corn in relishes became common food items, and have remained so to this day.

In the earlier days when freezing and canning were not popularly used to preserve anything, corn kernels used to be dried and stored. To use these they just had to be soaked in water and then used in cooking.

Each kernel of corn houses a complete corn plant. Take a corn plant two to three feet high and cut it down the middle with a knife and what will you see…yes, tiny ‘ears’ of corn embedded inside. And in time these will push their way out as the plant grows and develop into a young corn stalk. Then the pollen from the tassels fertilizes the silky threads that grow from the ears and the cob and its kernels develop.

What a beautiful sight looking at the fields of green corn that blanket the farm where they are sown.

Did you know
You will find that the word ‘corn’ means differently depending on the country you are in. In United States of America it is also called maize or Indian corn. In England it means wheat; in Scotland and Ireland it means oats. In Bible corn is perhaps used to refer to wheat or barley.

How healthy is corn
There is a lot more to the corny tales. Corn is also a nutritional powerhouse, rich in antioxidants and fiber.

It is known to improve blood pressure. Considerable amount of potassium found in corn can improve blood pressure. However, eating foods high in potassium isn't good for everyone, specifically older adults and people with kidney disease. I would therefore recommend that you talk to you doctor about your potassium needs.

Being rich in antioxidants, corn can help you fight against cell damaging free radicals, and may decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Apparently corn is a better source of antioxidants than wheat, rice or oats. The antioxidants found in corn include carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Corn contains carotenoids that are especially good for your eyes and may help protect you from developing chronic eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Being rich in fibers, it adds bulk to stool and may help prevent constipation. It also helps rid your body of toxins faster.