Masala Popcorn
15 Min

Masala Popcorn

A lovely young Ecuadorian woman named Ines Rivera once worked for me. She had previously worked at a popcorn shop where her pay would be docked if every kernel of corn did not pop. Needless to say, she was an expert and gave me a lesson on how to do it right.


I am always looking for a reason to make popcorn at home. I get excited about watching long games or movies because of the popcorn that goes with it. And as you can probably guess, the popcorn at my house is neither microwave popcorn nor does it have only melted butter.


I start with heirloom dried corn, and I’ve played with several fats from coconut oil to ghee, and different spices from turmeric to cardamom. Mustard oil gives the popcorn an interesting horseradishlike flavor, which is balanced with the sweetness in powdered sugar. This recipe is my favorite — if you do not want to venture out to buy mustard oil, use olive.

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Cook Time

15 Minutes



Step 1
Combine the popcorn kernels, mustard oil, salt and turmeric in a deep pot or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Without covering the pot, start on high heat, stirring the mixture continuously until the first kernel pops. This will take longer than expected, but the point is to keep the kernels moving till they are ready to pop.
Step 2
As soon as the first kernel pops, immediately cover the stockpot and lower the heat. Once the sound of popping has subsided, turn the heat off. This whole process will take less than 5 minutes.
Step 3
Immediately stir in the red chili powder, amchur, and melted butter and serve — at this point, it may be easier to transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
1/2 cup heirloom popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons mustard oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon amchur (dried mango powder)
2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter or ghee for finishing

Notes & Variations

  • Try heirloom corn from Rancho Gordo, an organic bean farm in California, or from Homestead Gristmill, an organic grain company in Waco.

  • Substitute powdered sugar with honey or maple syrup.

  • Amchur is a dried green mango — substitute with dried pomegranate or sumac.
15 Min

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