Indian food may have a reputation for bringing the heat, but the fresh seasonal ingredients of James Beard Award-nominated chef Meherwan Irani’s recipe for Chai Pani’s corn bhel provides the perfect balance of simplicity and flavor. Composed of a colorful mixture of sweet roasted corn, cucumber, cilantro, tomato, onions and flour crisps (puris) tossed with cilantro-cumin-lime dressing, this vibrant medley puts a fresh and tangy twist on a summer salad.
- 4-6 medium size ears of corn (husk on)
- 1 cup diced red onion (approx. 1 medium onion)
- 1 cup diced, cored and seeded cucumber
- 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh roughly chopped cilantro (discard stems)
- 3 or 4 mint leaves, thinly sliced into strips (chiffon)
- 2 Cups of pita chips, tortilla strips or croutons*
- Cumin lime dressing (recipe below)
- Chai Pani uses corn poha (Indian cornflakes), usually available at most Indian grocery stores
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Roast 4 medium size ears of corn (with husk on) in the oven on a baking tray until the husk can be peeled back to reveal lightly browned corn kernels; approx. 40 minutes. When corn has cooled, shave the niblets off into a bowl. Add the diced cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro & choice of crackers into a bowl. Add cumin-lime dressing to taste and toss like a salad.
Cumin Lime Dressing (makes approx. 1 quart)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 1/2 cup light olive oil or canola oil (don’t use virgin olive oil – the taste will overpower the recipe)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion or shallot
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 tsp. of ground cumin
- Put all ingredients, except for olive oil, in a food processor and puree on medium-low speed.
- Once ingredients are pureed, turn processor to medium-high and add the olive oil in thin stream until fully incorporated (emulsify).