South Indian Stir-Fried Corn with Basil and Leeks

Author Notes: This is a simple stir-fried corn recipe my mother would make for me, flavored with cumin seed, black pepper, lemon, and cilantro. When combined, these ingredients give the dish a nice mix of sweet, spicy, herb-y, and sour flavors. I believe this recipe was one she grew up eating in Bangalore, and was known in our house as corn palya (palya means stir-fry in Kannada). Chitra Agrawal

Food52 Review: The ingredients in this recipe meld together perfectly. The earthiness of the cumin pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the corn. It's one of those recipes that, when followed, lends itself to endless variations. I could easily imagine leftovers being folded together with wheatberries or farro to make a wonderful grain salad, or even stirred into risotto.deneen

Serves: 4


  • 4 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 leek, white and green parts chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt & pepper
In This Recipe


  1. Shave corn off cob by standing it upright and running your knife as close to the cob as possible.
  2. Heat ghee or oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds to pan.
  3. When the seeds start to brown, turn the heat to medium and add in the leeks. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the leeks are wilted down. Mix in the black pepper.
  4. At this point, add in the corn kernels and salt to taste. Fry the corn for a few minutes (it doesn’t take long to cook). Turn the heat off.
  5. Squeeze lemon over the mixture and fold in the chopped basil. Add salt to taste.

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