I try not to over-indulge in potatoes and sweet corn. They are both super starchy and they share a distinction–in my family at any rate–as rarely being the only starch on the plate (for example, if we have potatoes in a curry we often then want it on rice). And the sweetness of the corn, well, don’t kid yourself, it has a lot of sugar. This means I try not to have them too, too much. But in July, in Ohio, when the corn that is growing down the road from me is being picked and sold that day at the farmer’s market across the street, well, you just gotta.
OK so that last part isn’t true this summer. Just like almost everyone else, Ohio is in agricultural drought. Not sure about the rest of Ohio, but thanks to all of the flooding last December, we are nowhere near to water restrictions. But the corn is being carted up from fields south of here, along various rivers, where they can irrigate. And the fact remains that even corn 2-3 days picked and thrown in a truck for an hour or 2 is still just about the best thing you’ll ever taste. Fresh dug potatoes are not too far behind.
This is the first time I have paired sweet corn with Indian flavors, and I am happy to report that the experiment was a smashing success. The potatoes soaked up the mustard-y, spicy goodness, while the corn provided little bursts of crunchy-tender sweet counterpoints. Ohio heaven in a bowl, Indian-style.
- 2 T grapeseed oil
- 3 T mustard oil*
- 1 T panch phoron
- 1 T dark mustard seeds
- 5 medium onions, chopped
- salt to taste
- 1/3 cup minced garlic
- 2 T ground coriander
- 2 t ground cumin
- 1 t turmeric
- 1 t paprika, or cayenne for heat
- 1000 grams chopped new potatoes, red or Yukon Gold (with skin)
- 5 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 3 cups water
- 2/3 cup dried yellow split peas**
- 2/3 cup split red lentils
- corn from 4 large ears
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
- 1 1/2 T garam masala
- juice of 1/2 lemon
Heat the grapeseed oil and mustard oil in a large Dutch oven with the mustard seeds and panch phoron seeds on medium high. Cover the pot and let the mustard seeds pop. When they slow down, add the onions and toss with a hefty pinch of salt. Let caramelize, stirring occasionally, until the onions are brown, about 20 minutes.
Add the garlic and toss. Cook for 1 minute. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and paprika (or cayenne). Toss and less the spices briefly roast. Then add the potatoes with another hefty pinch of salt. Toss with onions and spices briefly, then add the tomatoes, water, split peas and split lentils. Bring to a boil and then place a lid on the pot, reducing the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the corn kernels, 1/2 tablespoon of the garam masala and 1/2 cup of the cilantro and return the soup to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are fork tender (but not falling apart), and check to make sure the split peas are also tender, about another 20 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cilantro, the remaining 1 tablespoon of garam masala, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Taste for additional salt, garam masala or lemon juice.
*If you have any concerns about using mustard oil, which is only approved by the FDA for external use, please check out this article from New York Times. Clearly it is a personal decision, but I have decided that mustard oil is fine for me and my family.
**If there is a chance your yellow split peas are older, either soak them overnight or par boil them first, to ensure that they will cook within 40-45 minutes of simmering.