Taking a stroll on marine drive while there is a storm brewing and clouds thundering is no less than magic. And just when it rains, you get earthy scent of wet soil but wait, you get whiff of something else too. That is the flavour of Monsoon, Makai.
If you ask, the best part for me was to see these Makai getting roasted on coal, the way Makaiwala fans the coal, they get bright red, smoke rises, you hear sudden pops, the Makaiwala would take a wedge of lemon and dig it in his special spice mix, rubbing the corn with it while I ask him to make it more zesty and spicy, everything is so poetic.
Wondering why I used the word Makai? Because, in Bombay the sellers had majority of Gujarati customers, and they started calling it Makai & not Bhutta, which is Northern Indian term. All of this made me create this dish, however I have used sweet corn here, & being my own makaiwala, i had to make inhouse spice mix too. The lemon has been replaced with lemon sponge.
Maize is believed to have originated in America and Christopher Columbus is believed to have introduced it to Europe – from where it reached Asia through colonies. However, some carvings in the Hoysala Dynasty temples built between 10th and 13th in Karnataka suggest the presence of maize in India.
The British brought maize to India because it had the advantage of growing quickly. But it wasn’t till about 300 years ago that it was widely cultivated in country. The common variety that we get in India is called Flint Corn- cobs with fresh, green and usually have plump and luscious kernels, tightly arranged. Makai is drastically raw and natural, compared to the European ones. So, it’s safe to say the masala makai is entirely an Indian invention.
Fact: The word corn doesn’t actually mean anything. In Europe, it is used for any kind of cereal grain.