Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Roasted Bhutta

On the weekend, A and I went out for an errand combined with a long drive. On the way back, we saw one of Delhi's pop-up retail for the monsoon - a long line of people with bhuttas ready for roasting. It's magical how the wares they sell change with each season. Towards the end of summer, they come out with kala jamun, in the winter they have guavas with masala mix, through the summer they sell roast vegetables with masala including the incredibly sour star fruit. In the rains, bhutta wallahs appear by magic on the streets of Delhi. They usually sit by the side of main roads, with a stack of unpeeled bhutta and a pan of fiery coals. You can unpeel the top of the bhuttas to select the best one - if you like them soft and juicy, pick the ones which have the lightest 'hair' inside the sheaf: blond/ greenish, and the pods squishing out a milky sap when you press them.
The bhutta wallah then unpeels and roasts these on his pan of coal, fanning the embers and turning the bhutta over to ensure even roasting. The process can take 5-10 minutes. The bhutta is done when the pods are blackened evenly up and down the cob. You can eat them as is or ask for the masala - a mix of lime juice, chilli powder and plain or rock salt.
There's nothing to beat the taste of the hot bhutta, with the mingled sour-salt-spicy overlay on the sweet corn, in the rains. Somehow the process of coal-roasting also adds its own taste which you just can't achieve at home on the gas stove. Street food just isn't the same when sanitized!

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