Curry Kettle Corn — Spicy, Sweet & Salty

Seductively spicy, my curried kettle corn creation (lovely alliteration) started earlier in the week when I made an afternoon popcorn snack. The snack coincided with my recent fascination with Anjum Anand and Indian cookery. I wondered whether I could apply the curry flavors to my popcorn.

I love popcorn and could easily eat it for every meal — actually, in grad school I did eat it for nearly every meal. It’s inexpensive, flavorful and has that delightful crunch that I often crave. Doesn’t matter whether it’s air-popped or oil-popped, buttered, sweetened, seasoned, or just plain — I love it all.

In thinking through the spices I intended to use, I decided it would be best to pair them with kettle corn. The added sweetness would counteract any potential bitterness from the spices and would add a nice contrast to the savoriness. I also imagined that the use of turmeric would stain the corn with a beautifully rich yellow color for extra visual appeal.

The result turned out to be delicious. I used *alot* of spices in this and might streamline a bit next time. I didn’t use any garlic or garlic powder, but might consider this as well. As I had hoped, the turmeric lent a nice color to the corn and the sugar make a crispy sweet/savory coating.

Curry Kettle Corn
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup popping corn
3 Tablespoons sugar

Whole spices – combine into bowl #1
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Ground spices – combine into bowl #2
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 cup fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
salt to taste

Quite a few ingredients, eh? Make sure to pre-measure the spices into the two separate bowls as noted.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add oil, corn, sugar, and whole spices. When corn begins to sizzle, sprinkle with ground spices mixture evenly over the top. Cover pot and shake. As corn begins to pop, shake pot over the burner to keep the corn moving or it will burn.

When popping begins to slow down (do not wait until it has stopped or it will burn), remove pot from heat and pour into a large bowl to cool. The sugary coating will be molten hot at this point, so whatever you do … do not touch the corn! (yes, I touched the corn)

Allow popcorn to cool for a few minutes before nibbling. Toss with chopped cilantro and salt just before serving.

The popcorn will be a lovely yellowish shade and your kitchen will be filled with a wonderfully fragrant scent. The sugar forms the crispy and sweet coating, while the spices blend into a delightful curry flavor.

The mixture is spicy and the bright taste of cilantro helps to cool the mouth. For most palates, this will be on the spicier end of the scale so reduce or eliminate the red pepper flakes as desired.

I could not stop eating this. I seriously love popcorn and this flavor combo worked for me.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Peter G March 28, 2008, 4:37 pm

    You’re on a roll Allen! Again I’m enjoying your creativity here with your use of Indian spices! Keep it up.

  • Fiber March 28, 2008, 4:48 pm

    Seriously – this looks amazing! I’m such a huge fan of both popcorn and curry, so combining the two is pure genius.

  • Allen March 28, 2008, 5:24 pm

    Peter G: Be careful about encouraging me, next thing you know I’ll be make curry ice-cream :-) Tomorrow’s post will get me back to baking and away from spices. I also have a banana blossom in my fridge that I’m eager to try making into a salad. More to come …

    Fiber: Thank you! I should note this popcorn is not for a tentative curry lover … you must fully love curry to appreciate it :-)

  • Heidi A March 28, 2008, 5:33 pm

    Oh, this looks wonderful. I have a big huge weakness for Kettle Corn.

  • AppetiteforChina March 28, 2008, 6:33 pm

    This looks impressive enough for a party snack!

  • farida March 28, 2008, 7:11 pm

    Hmm, popcorn and curry? something new to me, but sounds intriguing! You are very creative!

  • Manggy March 28, 2008, 8:05 pm

    Huh, who doesn’t like curry? They are no fun :p Aha! I have all but one spice on my pantry… And that is mustard seed.

    You know, you can make a heady spice cake too ;)

  • Allen March 28, 2008, 10:19 pm

    Heidi: Thanks!

    Appetiteforchina: Thank you!

    Farida: Thank you for the very kind comment :)

    Manggy: Feel free to omit the mustard seeds, it won’t change it much — there’s alot of spice going on! Hmmm … a heady spice cake, huh? Sounds interesting.

  • StickyGooeyCreamyChewy March 29, 2008, 8:46 pm

    What a great idea! I love traditional kettle corn and Indian flavors, so….. it’s a perfect match for me! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Hanisha March 29, 2008, 11:56 pm

    Reminds me of the masala popcorn back home in India!

    Some places in Bombay / Delhi even have chaat masala variants… a must-try if you like tangy/sour flavours.

  • Jessica March 30, 2008, 4:53 pm

    I just made this, and it’s so delicious! I’m a college student up in North Dakota, so the spicy edge of this popcorn is taking the edge off this chilly day. Not to mention good distraction from writing papers.

  • Allen March 30, 2008, 5:35 pm

    StickyGooeyCreamyChewy: Thank you!

    Hanisha: Oh, that sounds good — I like tangy/sour too!

    Jessica: So glad you tried it (and liked it)! But, don’t forget to get back to your school work … I don’t want my popcorn to be the reason for your papers not getting written :-)

  • off the meat hook March 30, 2008, 7:11 pm

    There is a restaurant in SF called TinderBox that gives you curried popcorn instead of bread. Ever since I ate there I have been wanting to try making it! Thanks for the inspiration. Nice work indeed.

  • Kevin March 31, 2008, 7:53 am

    Curried popcorn sounds like a great idea. I like the use of the fresh cilantro as well!

  • Paula March 31, 2008, 8:06 am


    Allen, you have to try curry ice cream…seriously. A friend of mine made some a few years ago and I’ve been meaning to fool around with it, but not having much of a sweet tooth most of the time (…really, I don’t…)… It can be as simple as getting a good vanilla ice cream, softening it, adding the curry and refreezing. Having tasted it and knowing how well that worked made me more confident that my curry frosting would.

  • Allen March 31, 2008, 4:44 pm

    Off the meat hook: Oh, I haven’t been there before but will have to check it out the next time I’m up in the city!

    Kevin: Thank you!

    Paula: Thanks! Curry ice-cream … hmm, I bet it would be good :-) I realized why I don’t make homemade ice-cream more often … because I see how many calories go into it. I might have to explore this as you mentioned, by buying a tub of ice-cream (i.e. fat free) and stirring in curry spices. Will let you know if I try it!

  • alekz April 7, 2008, 5:47 pm

    i didn’t have everything you listed, so i adlibbed and made some tasty modifications.

    i did not have whole corriander or cumin seeds, so i added some ground to the spices. i was also out of tumeric, but i did have a curry with a lot of tumeric in it, so i used some of that.

    i used coconut oil for my popping oil medium (only used about 1.5 T). i salted with saffron-salt. i also toasted some chopped pistachios and cashews in a cast iron skillet and tossed through.

    and then, i did a very “non-authentic” thing and added nutritional yeast, because it is virtually impossible for me to eat popcorn without it.

    all in all, a success, and i’ll make again.

    thanks for the idea,

  • Nate-n-Annie July 21, 2008, 11:57 am

    Curry and popcorn – what a great idea. I like that you used whole spices when popping the corn too.

    I wonder if you could use chopped up curry leaves instead of cilantro, would that make the curry flavor more intense?

  • Anonymous July 22, 2008, 12:19 pm

    I made this last night and it knocked my socks off– thanks so much for sharing! This is definitely going to become a staple snack for me…

  • tara July 23, 2008, 11:13 am

    Oh my. That looks like a dangerously-addicting combination of salty and sweet. I have just added popping corn to my grocery list! Cheers and thanks for sharing.

  • Abi Jones October 6, 2008, 4:43 pm

    Is it possible to home-store popcorn overnight or for a few days? If yes, I’m making batches and batches of this for my wedding. Yum.

  • kittie October 14, 2008, 2:54 am

    I made Indian spiced popcorn for the first time last week – and loved it! Must try again with the sugar option!!

    Great recipe!

  • [eatingclub] vancouver || js October 22, 2008, 9:22 pm

    This is freaking fabulous. I’m having a hankering for something like this, something like now.

  • Arundathi March 8, 2009, 10:39 am

    can’t believe i have been away for so long! this looks fantastic! and i’m off to catch up on your other posts!

  • Dani September 25, 2009, 2:56 am

    hmmm this looks really good, but how much sugar goes into it? It’s not listed in the ingredients (I might just be missing it, tho…it is, after all, 5 am. eek)

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