Monday, August 17, 2015

Bazaar Treasures - Monsoon Special (3) - White corn

- by Deepa Krishnan

Among Mumbai's many monsoon delights is this - white corn. It has small, dense, white kernels, which are satisfactorily grainy and chewy. It is leagues bettter than the sweet yellow variety that has flooded the market these days. 
The masala-bhutta that is made with the white variety is a true delight. The starchy non-sweet white corn really works well with the lemon-chilli-salt rub and makes a big difference in taste. Once upon a time, the thela-walas only sold bhuttas of white corn. But now they've switched to yellow, and very few of them sell white corn bhuttas any more. I was lucky to find this guy near my house; he had both varieties on offer. No prizes for guessing which one I bought.
But really, a few exceptions aside - white corn has more or less disappeared from the market now.  There are only a few pockets in the city where they are available - I've seen them at Matunga Market, Bhaji Gully, and BB Dadar.

There are many reasons why the white variety has lost out to the yellow one. The sweeter taste of the yellow corn is popular with everyone. The yellow variety can be grown all through the year; the white one grows only in the monsoons. The white one has only 1 cob on a stalk; whereas the yellow ones, they have multiple cobs on a stalk (increasing the farmer's yield per hectare). The yellow ones are larger in size and heavier - and they also are more consistent in size and weight - so they offer better returns for the farmer. 
So what's wrong with the yellow one, you ask? It creates dependence on the seed companies, that's what. Seeds from one year cannot be saved and used for the next year. This yellow variety is "one time only". Means the farmer has to buy seeds each year.

Sigh. I think soon this white one will go extinct. Unless there is customer pull, to bring it back to the market. Join me, won't you? Every time I go to the market, I ask for white corn. So that the shop-keepers know that some people still want it!

Monsoon Treasures Series:
For those who want to see the two previous entries with more monsoon treasures: here are the two links:
Part 1 of the story -
Part 2 of the story - 


Unknown said...

I am also fond of the white cob and have always wondered why the market is no more flooded with the succulent version. Now I know. Thanks for your beautiful explanation. We have to let the vendors know what we want otherwise it is going to be demise of this variety.

matt123 said...

Hi Deepa, three really lovely posts about the market delights that come with Monsoon season I'm Mumbai. Do you have any more blogs with recommendations about what to see/expect/do in Mumbai during Monsoon season? I will be arriving early May and I want to get the most out of the city in the three or four days I will be staying.