The corn in this recipe gets a punch of flavor by being sauteed in oil that has had spices bloomed in it. "Vaghar in Gujarati means to sauté, and is used to refer to oil that has had spices tempered in it," explains Hetal Vasavada. "This technique is also called chhonk, tadka, and poron, and has many other names in other Indian languages. Typically, vaghar is added to a dish after it's been done cooking (as with a dal). However, when you reverse the method and temper the oil and spices first and then add ingredients into it, it's referred to as vaghareli." For her inspired twist on Mexican flautas, Vasavada makes vaghareli makai (corn). The spiced kernels are combined with mild cheese, rolled up in tortillas, and deep-fried. Serve the flautas piled high with colorful garnishes alongside a ginger-lime avocado crema for a vibrant summer entertaining staple.

August 2022

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Credit: Photo by Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Recipe Summary

total:
1 hr 15 mins
Servings:
4
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Ingredients

Chutney Crema
Vaghareli Makai

Directions

Make the chutney crema:
  • Reserve 1 avocado half for another use. Combine cilantro, mint, crema, 1/2 cup water, lime juice, ginger, jalapeño, salt, and remaining avocado half in a blender. Process until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Cover and chill until ready to serve, up to 2 hours.

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Make the vaghareli makai:
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add black mustard seeds. Once they start to sputter, reduce heat to low; add curry leaves, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and turmeric; cook, stirring constantly, 10 seconds. Add corn; increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until corn is tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in lime juice, salt, and black pepper. Remove from heat. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; let cool 3 minutes. Stir in shredded cheese until combined. Set aside.

  • Place tortillas on a microwavable plate, and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high until tortillas are warm and pliable, about 45 seconds. Working with 1 tortilla at a time and keeping remaining tortillas covered with damp paper towel, place 3 tablespoons corn-cheese mixture on center of 1 tor-tilla. Tightly roll into a cigar shape, and secure with a wooden toothpick. Repeat process with remaining tortillas and corn-cheese mixture.

  • Heat remaining 1/2 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high. Working in about 3 batches, gently place filled tortillas, seam side down, in skillet. (Be sure not to crowd the skillet.) Reduce heat to medium, and fry until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes per batch, using tongs to turn flautas often so they cook evenly. Transfer flautas to a wire rack to drain. Remove and discard any solids from oil in skillet. Repeat process with remaining filled tortillas.

  • Remove wooden picks from flautas. Arrange on a platter; drizzle with chutney crema, and top with desired toppings.

Note

Find black mustard seeds and curry leaves at foodsofnations.com.

Make Ahead

Chutney crema can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 hours.

Suggested Pairing

Lightly oaky California Chardonnay: Fess Parker Santa Barbara County

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