Friday, 17 September 2010

Spiced Tamarind (Imli) Corn Soup

Sweet corn always reminds me of my childhood. My mother would often slowly cook corn cobs under the grill or in the oven. When it came out slightly turned golden and black in some places, we would all take a cob each and slather it generously with lemon and chilli-salt. The kernels soaking up the citrus and spice and enhancing the flavour further making it even more juicy and sweet. Just the thought of it is making my mouth water.
But it wasn’t to be spiced corn on the cob. I remembered that Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen was hosting this months No Croutons Required Challenge. The challenge was to create either a vegetarian soup or salad using corn. For one moment I thought about being sneaky and submitting this Spicy Sweetcorn soup that I had made early in the year with frozen corn. Then I thought why on earth would I with all this fresh corn around me. So I decided to challenge myself further and create a dish with some other ingredients I had to hand, namely a couple of organic red Romano peppers which I picked up in the reduced section of the supermarket now beginning to look a little wrinkly; and tamarind paste/concentrate aka imli. This Spiced Tamarind Corn soup was the result. Check out the other NCR entries here and cast a vote for the one that tickles your tastebuds!
The rich tamarind not only flavours the soup by giving it a slight tanginess, it also gives it a deep brown, autumnal colour. The corn gives it a sweet crunch and a little texture and the fresh coriander enhances the flavour further. For me this was the perfect soup to welcome the Autumn, even if it has arrived with lashings of rain. The Tamarind Corn soup was accompanied with some Jalapeno and sweetcorn bread in the shape of both corn cobs and muffins. I’ve made these before. The only thing I did differently this time was use fresh red pepper. The recipe for the cornbread can be found on this link.
I was send this cast iron corn stick by my best friend in America (whom I met at University), who posted it to me in 2000 after I had returned from visiting her near San Fransisco. It must have cost her a fair bit to post. Its not exactly feather weight and for that I am grateful. I have barely used it, so in order to give it more wear and show her my appreciation. I dug it out from amongst the other baking pans and decided to make some corn stick muffins to accompany my corn soup. I just wish she was sitting at the table with me, enjoying them with me. As well as enjoying her company, which I miss so dearly. I would have had the honour of holding her first child: a baby girl, who from the e mailed photographs looks just like her - Beautiful. If your reading this my dear friend, I miss you.
Spiced Tamarind (Imli) Corn Soup
Serves 3 - 4
4 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
300g sweet corn, fresh or frozen
1 Romano or red pepper, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin,
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon tamarind (Imli) concentrate
1 – 1 ¼ pint water or vegetable stock
Coriander, minced for garnish
Heat oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add onion and sweat until soft. Add cumin, coriander and chili powder, and sauté for 2-3 minutes more or until fragrant. Add corn, pepper and tamarind, and sauté for 5 minutes. Pour in water or stock. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until corn and pepper begins to soften. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Remove soup from heat. Let cool. Transfer half of soup to blender, puree, and return to pot. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish a sprinkle of minced coriander.


  1. That pan is pretty cool. I like that. I love the soup too. It looks so very comforting and hearty.

  2. Thanks Vic.
    It is pretty special and pretty heavy!

  3. Yeah, cool pan!! THis recipe looks amazing! I love tamarind so much!!

  4. hey Mango - sorry to have been absent for so long! Hope all's well with you. The soup looks lovely and perfect for a chilly autumnal evening. I love the corn pan too. xx

  5. I love the variety of your posts and what a great baking tin. I think there's something about this time of year as we get ready to cosy down for the dark nights in that makes you miss the ones you love all the more. Thank goodness for the internet for providing a window into each others lives thought. I bet she loves reading your blog as much as you enjoy receiving her emails.

  6. Thank you so much Morgan. The tamarind certainly comes through.

    Oh Fran,
    It is so wonderful to hear from you again. You have been missed!

    Thank you so much Nic.
    Your comment means a lot :D
    Yes its a pretty cook baking tin.
    Your right too. The internet does have its flaws, but also its positive points - thank goodness for it providing a window into each others lives.

  7. That is a fantastic pan...okay, now I have to find one like that and also a scone pan (re Kensho blog that I follow)!

    I think the red pepper visually pops and encourages the taste buds.

    Will have to search out Imli food to me.

    Heh, tomatillo's were a new food to me last week...boiled them in a soup and found they had a tamarind or rhubarb sourness much liked!!

    Always inspiring, never disappointing...thanks Mango Cheeks)))

  8. Gardening Bren.
    It is pretty cool.

    If you can't find imli concentrate, imli blocks which are more available will work too, just not as concentrated in flavour.

    Isn't it reat when you find soemthing new you like. We just keep discovering and learning and thats such a wonderful thing.

  9. Your soup must have packed a punch. Such great flavours Mangocheeks and I love that mould, just perfect for this month's challenge :)

  10. Thanks Jacqueline - a loving smack in the mouth too. It was really flavoursome.

  11. Imli corn soup, wow! That is what you call intriguing. I have to bookmark this one to try out soon since I was, in fact, just now looking at a few packets of imli and trying to figure out what to do with them.
    Sorry for the long absence but I've just had the busiest month ever and have barely been able to keep up with my own blog.

  12. Thank you so much Grapefruit.

    I totally understand your absence during the fasting month/Ramadan month, but its good to have you back and its also good to take a break from blogging. Hope you and your family are well and that you had a good Eid. PS Please correct if I have assumed wrong. As always kind wishes.


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