While the grill is hot and ready for your 4th of July barbeque, toss some fresh corn on the coals. And, for added intrigue try adding some chili pepper and lime. A friend of ours who grew up in Bombay, India where spicy foods and curries reign supreme, told us of street food vendors that sell copious amounts of grilled corn on the cob rubbed with lime, chili powder and salt. At a recent get-together, she patiently showed us the tricks of making this specialty.
She describes the flavor saying, “The combination makes a wonderful tingling sensation in your mouth.” The attraction to spicy foods may lie in the chemical “capsaicin” which is found in the spines of certain peppers and causes your body to release endorphins. Endorphins block pain, but they're also responsible for feelings of pleasure as well. So capsaicin is, in fact, a natural painkiller and anti-inflammatory.
Chili-Lime Grilled Corn
Fresh ears of corn, on the cob
“Lal mirch" available in Indian food markets (you can use cayenne pepper or other chili pepper of your choice.)
Limes, cut horizontally
Heat a large pot of water to boiling. While waiting for water to boil, remove husks from the corn. Place the corn in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from water, draining slightly, and then place the corn on a hot grill and cook until lightly browned and nicely charred. Remove the corn from the grill and allow to cool until it can be handled without burning.
On a separate plate, place a mound of salt and a mound of ground chili pepper on opposite sides of the plate. Slowly drag salt and pepper to the center and mix together. It is better to start with more salt and less chili pepper for folks who do not like their corn terribly spicy. Taking a lime half, grind the salt-chili mixture into the lime and then rub (really rub) the spices and lime juice into the corn. The lime will pick up more chili (and thus more heat) each time you return to the plate for more salt-chili and continue to rub down corn cobs.
Enjoy the tingle of the spice and lime juice in contrast to the sweet, caramelized corn. You may want to have a glass of milk close by in the event the chili pepper takes over your taste buds. The lactic acid and fat in milk cuts the heat of capsaicin far better than water or alcohol!
Denise and Dom Romeo are local food bloggers who enjoy spending time together doing what they love best: cooking and entertaining! Follow their food adventures on their award winning blog; We Like To Cook! at www.welike2cook.com.