The coconut rice and curried corn in this recipe could very well be eaten separately, and they would make fine additions to lunch or dinner, but the combination of the two is truly special. I call for my homemade Jamaican curry powder, giving the corn a complex spicy, sweet, and slightly sour flavor profile.
Even if you don’t plan to make a whole 4th of July feast on your own, this is one of those dishes that always impresses when you show up at someone else’s cookout.
Curry powders, like the Jamaican curry powder I use in this recipe, are meant to evoke the complex and flavorful blending of herbs and spices in South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Caribbean cooking. Like many edibles that have crossed the globe, the composition and preparation of curry powders vary depending on national and local traditions and family preferences.
Jamaican curry developed as a result of the large Indian population in Jamaica that grew during the mid-19th and early 20th century, when Indians were brought to work as indentured servants.
There are a few differences between Indian and Jamaican curry powders: Jamaican curry powders are bright yellow from lots of turmeric; they use allspice, a dried fruit that resembles peppercorns; and they most often include Scotch bonnet peppers, a variety of chili pepper found mainly in the Caribbean, instead of chili peppers used in Indian curries.
Since you'll have a lot of this spice left over after making the curried corn, you can also use this blend in soups, stews, marinades, and vegetable dishes.
Curried Corn and Coconut Rice
Serves 4 to 6
For the Jamaican curry powder (makes 1/2 cup spice blend):
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries, toasted
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
For the rice:
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 cup short-grain brown rice, soaked in water overnight and drained well
For the corn:
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
To make the Jamaican curry powder, combine all the ingredients in a mortar or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Transfer to a jar, and seal tightly. Stored at room temperature, it will keep for 6 months. (Note: You will only need 1/2 teaspoon for this recipe.)
To prepare the rice, combine the coconut milk, water, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir well, and return to a boil. Immediately decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 50 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.
To prepare the corn, put about 8 cups of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, then add the corn. Immediately remove from the heat and let sit for 30 seconds. Drain well.
Warm the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the corn and sauté until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
To serve, spoon the corn over the rice and garnish with thyme.