Last week I was in Pakistan. It’s no secret that trips to Pakistan are something I don’t really look forward to, and the only attractions there for me are my grandparents and the Pakistani bhutta (corn) that’s sold on the streets.
There are two things I couldn’t understand all these years: 1. How the home-cooked food in Pakistan tastes so, so, so incredibly good and why I can never make it taste the same when I cook it, and 2. what’s in the masala they put on the bhutta in Pakistan. I still don’t know the answer to 1., but I think I’ve finally cracked 2.
All these years, I kept trying to replicate those flavors at home, and treat myself to the same kind of corn one only gets to enjoy in Pakistan. First off, the breed of corn is different. It’s not quite sweet, it has an orange tinge to it. So I’ve learnt to accept that in order to mimic those flavors, I must first get Pakistani corn.
Secondly, this corn is prepared by being buried with it’s husks still on, in hot, powdered coal, and cooked in it’s own steam. The unique fragrance of the coal-heated corn husks then gets infused into every kernel of the corn and I swear to you, it’s like no other corn you’ve ever had.
I knew I wasn’t going to bury corn in hot powdered coal, so I just brought some back with me on my recent trip to Pakistan. Full disclosure: I’m still quite wary of consuming the masala that the vendors put on the corn because food poisoning is a real scare, and have been determined to recreate it myself. Chaat masala never quite did the trick- it never gave that lip smacking, umami-securing oomph.
Recently, I joined the dots and managed to find the perfect spice that totally and entirely replicates the authentic flavors: Japanese togarashi spice – believe it or not.
The Japanese togarashi spice has the perfect balance of spicy, salty and sour and I swear I felt like I’m back in Pakistan.
Here’s the recipe for replicating Pakistani bhutta corn at home:
Pakistani Bhutta | Recipe
- 2 Corn on the cob (preferably Pakistani corn, prepared by burying it in hot, powdered coal till it's cooked)
- 1 clementine
- 1 tablespoon togarashi spice.
- Remove the husks from the prepared corn and microwave for 30 seconds if it's not warm.
- Place togarshi spice is a small, flat plate
- Cut the clementine in half, and touch it to the surface of the togarashi spice, to allow the spice powder to stick to the clementine.
- Then, rub the spice-ladden clementine onto the corn. This process will moisturise the corn with sweet, zesty clementine juice, and stuff the moist spice mix into every crevice between every kernel of corn. It's utterly brilliant, really.
I served the corn on my gorgeous melamine plates from Lakeland. I’ve hated on melamine plates my entire life, until I saw these beauties. I just couldn’t resist them and told myself they’ll be great for BBQs. I have since been using them all the time because they’re lightweight and add a welcome splash of color to m pictures!