This is a very simplified version of a popular Indian recipe, but as usual I can’t really get half the typical ingredients. For some reason I did have the amchur powder and the black salt, which with the cumin are probably the most distinctive flavours for this dish, and I decided it would have to do. I don’t know that this would be recognizable to any person of Indian extraction, but it was eaten quite enthusiastically here.
The presentation in a hollowed-out tomato is nice, but not required. If you don’t want to fuss with that, you can replace the whole lot of tomatoes with one medium one, peeled and chopped fine, and everything mixed as a straightforward salad.
45 minutes prep time
Make the Spice Blend:
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon black salt
1 1/2 teaspoons amchur powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon hot red chile powder (to taste)
Start the water for the corn before making the spice blend.
Toast the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer them to a plate to cool at once, then grind them very fine with the black salt. Mix with the amchur and chile powders.
Make the Salad:
2 cobs of corn
4 to 8 small salad tomatoes
1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
2 to 3 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
the juice of 1/2 lime
Put a pot of water on to boil for the corn. Husk it, and boil for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Rinse under cold water until cool enough that it can be handled, then cut the corn from the cobs. Set it aside for the moment.
Wash the tomatoes and cut off the top one-third of each. Use a grapefruit spoon or other small, sharp-edged spoon to remove the flesh, leaving the shells intact, from the bottom two-thirds of each. Salt the interiors and set them aside. Discard the stem scars and green cores (if any) and chop the remaining flesh and tomato tops to a size with the corn kernels. Put them in a mixing bowl.
Peel and finely dice the sweet onion, and add it to the chopped tomato. Wash, dry, and mince the cilantro. Wash, core, and finely dice the green pepper. Add those to the tomatoes and onions.
Peel and grate the ginger, and add it to the bowl of vegetables, along with the juice of 1/2 lime. Mix in the spice blend.
Lightly oil a large skillet – only enough to prevent the corn from sticking – and cook the corn kernels over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until fairly crisp and browned in spots. When it looks done to your liking, add it to the salad.
Rinse and drain the tomato shells well. Arrange them on a serving plate. Fill them with as much of the salad as they will hold, then spoon the rest of it around them.
Last year at this time I made Three Variations on Blackberry Jam (or Syrup).