Make Ahead

Corn Usal in Puff Pastry

August  4, 2011
4 Ratings
Author Notes

"Usal" is a dish that hails from the western edge of India, typically made by sautéing legumes with an assortment of spices. This recipe for corn usal puts a twist on the classic and is delicious by itself or stuffed into little golden pockets of puff pastry.
*Note: If you have trouble finding the spices at your local supermarket, try a specialty Indian store/market.
- E.Sa —E.Sa

Test Kitchen Notes

You don't often see corn featured predominantly in Indian cooking - but, oh it should be! E.Sa's take on a Samosa is really delicate and fresh. The sweetness of the corn and fresh coconut with the bite of the chilies and mustard, are really enhanced by the bright freshness of the lemon juice and cilantro in this dish. Try to hunt down the curry leaves. They impart a lovely, distinct flavor in this dish, and can be frozen for future use. The flaky puff pastry is a great accompaniment to the sweet and spicy corn and these would make great appetizers. They aren't at all heavy or greasy like traditional fried Samosas can be. I served them with both tamarind and rhubarb chutneys, and they were delicious. As a fresh corn side dish, without the pastry, this would be great with tandoori grilled chicken or fish, alongside a nice, cooling raita, and fresh mango lassi. Terrific use of summer corn! - Burnt Offerings —Burnt Offerings

  • Serves 4
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Pinch asafoetida
  • 3 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaf (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 ears corn, kernels removed and cobs discarded
  • 1/2 cup fresh (unsweetened) coconut, or dried coconut that has been rehydrated by soaking in warm water for a few minutes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/4 lemon)
  • Salt to taste
  • chopped cilantro for garnish (we like our cilantro, so I used 1/2 cup, but you can add as much or as little as you like)
  • 1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed (if you want to make pockets with the usal)
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Once it's hot, add the mustard seeds and asafoetida, then the green chilies and and curry leaves, and, finally, the turmeric and cayenne.
  2. Add the onions to the oil and spices; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the coconut, reducing the heat to "low" as you do so, and sauté for another 2 minutes. Stir in the corn and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Once the corn has cooked, add the lemon juice and salt. Garnish with cilantro. (Serve as is, or continue with the instructions to make corn "pockets.")
  4. To make the pockets, begin by preheating the oven to 400. Lay a sheet of puff pastry out onto a lightly floured cutting board. Depending on what size pocket you'd like, cut the sheet into either 3 or 4 even squares. Roll out the edges of each square very gently (just so the dough is worked out a bit), then place a spoonful of the corn usal in the center of it. Bring two opposing corners of a square together and pinch together the edges to make a triangle. Seal the edges with a fork. Repeat with the remaining squares (and the rest of the puff pastry sheets). Bake for 25 minutes, flipping each individual pocket over after about 12 minutes. Serve as is, or with a squirt or sriracha sauce on the side.
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