Bhutta, roasted corn, with lime juice, salt, pepper and chilli powder

Monsoon season in Mumbai has its own menu mostly comprising of hot tea and a variety of fried snacks, consumed ideally in a balcony or near a window where a light spray from the rain would be a welcome companion.

But for me, the lasting memory of the Mumbai monsoon is the joy of eating freshly roasted corn on the cob, called bhutta, liberally coated with salt, chilli powder and lime juice. My mouth is watering just by writing this!

There would always be a man with a cart selling this delicious treat at Bandstand, in Bandra. Back then the corn was the smaller, paler yellow variety and not the bright American corn now available everywhere. He would roast it on charcoal in a small sigri (stove) and then dip half a lime into a bowl containing mostly salt and chilli powder and massage it into the roasted corn, till it was glistening from the lime juice and speckled with the spices! Then while still warm, he would serve it to you on a plate fashioned from the outer, pale green leaves of the corn.

And there you would stand, watching the high tide lash onto the rocks and dig into the corn till your teeth went right down to the very core. That explosion of the freshly roasted corn combined with the lime juice and spices was the best snack I have ever had on a rainy day.

Now when I want this treat, I need to roast it over a gas flame which doesn’t give quite the same taste as roasting over charcoal. But once the lime and spices go in, it still tastes damn good!

bhutta roasting
Corn roasting on a gas flame