A humble veg curry with a twist

Photo: Stocksy

This week Anna Jones is making makai, a spicy corn curry and a great Saturday night crowd-pleaser 

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By Anna Jones on


I make trips to India every few years, when I think of the food I have loved the most there has been the simplest humblest cooking, no complicated spice blends or curries which have been laboured over but just cooked cleverly spiced vibrant vegetables which still let the character of the veg sing out. This was a dish I tried in a temple, just very fresh corn cut from the cob with one spice and a few aromatics and the ever present pickle to add interest and shock of colour, and of course a chappati or two.

This makai curry makes the most of the late summer crop of corn

A makai is a corn curry which comes lots of different ways depending on where in India you are, some come in a gravy but this is a much fresher cleaner version which by its nature is unfussy and speedy. This makai makes the most of the late summer crop of corn. I love corn, but for me it has to be fresh, so this time of year the fridge is filled with husks. A helpful tip for not covering your kitchen in corn when you cut it off the cob is to rest the end in a large mixing bowl as you cut that way the bowl with catch any kernels with a will to escape.

This simple spiced sunshine yellow corn is topped with a crisp edged egg fried in mustard seeds and a very quick cheat’s chilli pickle, it all comes together to make the plate a riot of colour which is scooped up in torn of corners of chappati which reminds me of everything I love about India.

Spiced sweetcorn makai with a chilli pickle and mustard seed fried eggs

For the makai:

  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded if it’s a really hot one
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 4 fresh corn on the cob
  • 50 g roasted unsalted peanuts
  • A small bunch of coriander chopped

For the chilli pickle:

  • 5 red chillies
  • 4 tablespoons of good mango chutney
  • the juice of ½ a lemon
  • To serve;
  • 4 eggs for frying
  • A tablespoon of black mustard seeds
  • 4 chappatis or rotis
  • Lemons to serve
  1. Use a mortar and pestle or a food processor to smash the chiles, garlic, ginger, tumeric, and a little salt into a paste.
  2. Next heat the ghee in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds, and once they’ve begun to pop, stir in the corn. Cook, stirring gently but constantly for a few minutes until it has turned a slightly deeper shade of yellow, then scatter in the peanuts, half of the coriander, and the chilli and garlic paste. Cook for another minute or so; taste, and a good squeeze or two of lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.Char the chillies for your chutney over a gas flame until they are black all over, then put them into a bowl and cover with cling film and leave for the skin to soften. After a couple of minutes the blackened skin should peel away from the chillies leaving the smoky red chilli beneath, peel all the chillies, scrape out their seeds unless you like a serious amount of heat and chop finely then mix with the mango chutney and a squeeze of lemon juice, taste and adjust as needed.
  3. While this is happening heat another frying pan and add a little more ghee or oil the add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop, next break in the eggs and fry to your liking.
  4. Once the eggs and corn are ready warm the chappatis and serve the corn in bowls topped with an egg, a chappati, the rest of the coriander and generous spoonful of the chutney with some extra lemon for squeezing over.


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