Bhel (sounds like bale) is a very popular street food, that is a colloquial for the food items that are mixed in with tangy spicy masalas and chutneys. Its one of my favourite street foods. There are so many types of bhel out there. And this one's a rainy season favourite.
There is usually an abundance of corn in the months from May till September and since its the rainy season, having corn is usually associated with the rains. You'll see what I mean when you see this, this and this.
Those beautiful golden kernels hiding behind those bright lime green leaves, so sweet and bursting with flavour. All they need is a slight tweaking and a little addition of ingredients and they make for the most perfect lunch/ dinner/ snack.
In the mood for something spicy and chatpatta (hot, spicy, tangy and lip-smacking) I made this very light and very tasty Corn Bhel. I also call it a salad because believe it or not, I have used this as a salad so many times when we have guests over and they always love it. The best part is there is no salad dressing so there are no hidden pesky calories to watch out for.
Just a matter of assembling the ingredients and voila, we have a nutritious meal in front of us.
Time taken: 15 mins
1 1/2 cup corn kernels
handful raw peanuts
2/3 cup diced cucumber
2/3 cup diced tomato
2/3 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp cumin powder
sev (crunchy noodles made with chickpea flour, available at Indian stores)
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chili powder/ paprika
1 whole green chili, quartered vertically and sliced thin
pinch of love
Just pick out the fresh corn kernels from the cob until you have 1/2 cup corn for each serving
Take a flat skillet and place it on high heat.
When the pan has heated for a couple of minutes, add the corn in the pan and allow to sear and char.
See the tiny brown specks on the skin of the kernels. Let them get dry roasted for a couple of minutes. Keep stirring them around or they might burn.
Remove the roasted corn in a bowl.
Season the corn with salt, red chili powder. You can also, at this point choose to add in mint chutney or tamarind chutney to give it a complete desi twist. I just wanted to keep it simple.
Squeeze the juice of a lime
Add some freshly roasted and ground cumin powder
In the same pan, add the peanuts and let them also roast for a couple of minutes.
Once done, remove them in the same bowl as the corn. The lovely textures at play and that nutty aroma combined with the slightly charred and sweet juicy golden kernels make for such a great start!
Add in the thinly sliced green chilies to add in some heat. You can choose to take out the seeds, or leave the green chili out completely. In my experience though, bhel is incomplete without that hot tang.
Give it all a toss
Now you can just add all the chopped vegetables in the bowl directly and then serve smaller portions or layer them like I did in glasses like this.
I topped the glasses off with fresh coriander and sev to add that crispy crunch in every bite. Garnish with a lemon twist and your Corn Bhel or Corn salad is ready to serve!
I think it looks pretty fancy!! Indian street food has never looked so good...I would know! I have been eating it since I was a kid!