Everybody loves popcorn… me, I can eat popcorn instead of a meal. Ask my friends and family. They all think I have a problem.
I went through a phase where I was absolutely addicted to microwave popcorn. My pantry was always stocked with them and I ate a bag a day. But then I read about all the chemicals they add to instant microwave popcorn to seal the butter and flavorings to stick to the bag, not to mention ‘popcorn worker lungs’! The word ‘carcinogenic’ really did the trick and I haven’t bought a bag since.
If you are still eating store-bought microwave popcorn, read this post: 5 Scary Facts about Microwave Popcorn and you will be scared enough to drop those bags down the trash.
But don’t swear off Popcorn forever. They are one of the healthiest snacks to munch on. In moderate quantities of course – 2 to 3 cups of air popped corn per day is plenty. Especially if you are watching your weight (you might want to skip the method using oil). They are a good source of whole grain, fiber, iron, protein and antioxidants. And since they are ‘mostly air’, it’s quite filling and will hold you up till the next meal.
So I fell back on this trick I learnt from my best friend’s mom. She is the one who taught me that we can make popcorn at home all those years ago. Every bowl I make, I thank her in my heart! Bless her! Sure, the cleanup is still there, but weighed against the long list of frightful chemicals, it’s a minuscule payment.
Even though I still jump every time I see a popcorn stand at the movies, I still have the advantage of making it, whenever I feel like, right at home. Natural, safe and easy. Not to mention delicious and satisfying.
Homemade Popcorn Serves 2
1. Stove-top method – needs oil
This is the old-fashioned way of popping the kernels at home.
– Place a large heavy-bottomed pan or pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
– Add 2tsp oil. And 3 corn kernels.
– Cover and wait till the 3 corn kernels have popped. Leave a small opening for some of the steam to escape. If using a pressure cooker, do not seal the lid. Simply place it over the opening.
– Remove the popped kernels and add 1/4 cup corn kernels to the hot oil. Make sure they are lined in a single-layer at the bottom of the pan.
– Cover the pan and remove from heat. Wait for 30 seconds. This will bring all the kernels to an even popping temperature.
– Return the pan back to the stove and they will all start to pop immediately.
– Remove from heat when the popping stops.
– Season while hot.
Note: For the Desi flavour, for 1/4 cup corn kernels, add 1/4tsp turmeric powder, 1/2tsp red chilli powder and popcorn salt* while adding the kernels to the oil to pop. Shake vigorously while the corn is popping to prevent the spices from burning. Remove from heat as soon as popping stops.
Alternatively, try the oil-free microwave method below. Then in a large pan, heat a little oil over medium heat, stir in the spices and salt till fragrant (10 seconds), and toss in the popcorn. This method reduces chances of the spices burning.
2. Microwave method – Oil-free
– In a heavy glass bowl (microwave proof, preferably Pyrex 1.75 quart or larger) add 1/4 cup corn kernels.
– Cover with a microwave proof ceramic/glass plate large enough to cover the bowl completely.
– Microwave till the popping stops. Each microwave differs. Mine take 5 minutes to be done. Test yours to see how long it takes and keep note of that for the next time you pop.
– Transfer to a serving bowl and season while hot.
1. Remove lid (plate) carefully. There will be a lot of steam locked in the bowl.
2. If you wish to add butter, melt 1-2tbsp butter in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds and pour over the popped corn. Feel free to re-use the bowl or the plate for the melting.
3. If you want to avoid the cleanup, use a brown paper bag instead, placing the kernels in the bag and folding the opening shut.
– While adding salt to the popcorn, make sure you add powdered salt, as table salt/cooking salt won’t coat the popped corn as well. To do this, simply take a few spoons of salt, and powder it using a spice grinder. Store in an air-tight bottle for subsequent uses. Season carefully.
– While grinding the popcorn salt, feel free to mix in dried herbs, powdered cheese, ground spices and have fun mix-n-matching the flavours.
Here’s Food Network’s 50 flavoured popcorn ideas to get you started.
Stay healthy, but never hungry! Enjoy!