The first thing you need to know about this recipe is that it was a group effort, and I am simply the messenger. It was cooked up for an office party by Chris, our vice president of sales development. Chris (long ago) was also a writer for The Kitchn and is a crackerjack cook. He set out bowls of this spicy, buttery, bright yellow popcorn that left a little sweetness on the tongue, and a lingering heat.
It was crazy good, and we all wanted the recipe.
Unfortunately, Chris had worked a bit of kitchen witchery, throwing in a bit of this and that, and while he gave us a rough template to follow, Ariel and I both worked it out in our own kitchens in our own ways. She used sesame oil when cooking it up for her Halloween party; I used olive oil. But the essentials stay the same: lots of butter, enough curry powder to give it color and heat, and just a little bit of sugar for a touch of sweetness.
It's spicy and sweet and warming all at once — but watch out — it will stain your fingers yellow! (A good time to practice eating your popcorn with chopsticks.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon turbinado or demerara sugar, plus more to taste
Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart (or larger) pan over medium heat. Add several kernels of popcorn. When they pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels and shake the pan lightly to distribute them. Cover the pan with a lid, but crack it slightly to let steam escape.
Warm the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the curry powder and salt and stir to combine. Keep warm while the popcorn pops.
When the popcorn finishes popping, pour into a large bowl and shake to make the unpopped kernels settle to the bottom. Stir the sugar into the warm butter and pour immediately over the popcorn. Stir thoroughly.
Chris mentioned that while he loves this popcorn just as it is, he also likes it mixed with plain popcorn. I tried this on a batch and liked it a lot. It provides some variation in texture and taste that I enjoyed.
This post has been updated. Originally published October 2014.