Quick & Easy
Popcorn is a variety of corn that pops when heated. There is a long history of popcorn as a snack, and six places in the United States claim the title of “Popcorn Capital of the World.” Americans eat more popcorn than anyone else.
My first popcorn popper was an old-fashioned stovetop model with a “unique spinner stirring mechanism.” It worked, but I was recently given a popcorn popper for the microwave that doesn’t require any oil. It cooks popcorn kernels perfectly in about 3 minutes and is easy to clean. I find it interesting that there are quite a few microwave popcorn poppers with the same exact size and shape, and almost indistinguishable from each other. Proof that this design works well.
However, you don't need any special equipment to make microwave popcorn. Use a glass bowl that will hold at least 6 cups of popped popcorn and cover the bowl with a plate. Sometimes simple is best.
From Breakfast to the Movies
Popcorn went from a popular breakfast cereal in the United States in the 1800s to a favorite salty, buttery movie-watching snack today. Inexpensive and healthy-ish—depending on what you put on it—popcorn is an easy and endlessly customizable appetizer. When I have friends over for dinner, I season popcorn with spices used in the rest of the dinner. Sichuan chili pepper and five-spice powder for a Chinese meal, or in the case of Indian food, chaat masala, and red Kashmiri chili powder are a favorite combination. Chaat masala, tangy, hot, sweet, and funky all at once, is dispensable in this curry popcorn. Make chaat masala or look for MDH Chunky Chat masala or Shan chat masala from your local Indian grocer or online.
My current favorite popcorn is Trader Joe’s Organic Popping Corn. The popcorn kernels are large, white, and fluffy. Feel free to experiment with various brands of popcorn and find your perfect spice combination. I’ve used oniony nigella seeds here, but you could use cumin seeds, fennel seeds, or carom (ajwain) seeds as well. It might be fun to mix in your favorite nuts, toasted, candied, or not. If you don’t have Kashmiri chili powder, use half the amount of cayenne pepper. And if you don’t have garam masala for this curry popcorn, use your favorite all-purpose curry powder.
See the Notes below before you cook.
Easy Microwave Curry Popcorn
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels ~ Depending on your popper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons butter ~ Melted, or ghee or oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Kashmiri ground red chili ~ 1/8 teaspoon cayenne or substitutions
- 1/2 teaspoon chaat masala ~ Buy or make
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala ~ Kerala or all-purpose
- 8 to 10 fresh curry leaves ~ Optional; slivered
- 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji) ~ Optional
- salt to taste ~ See Notes below
- Gather all your ingredients.
- Add the popcorn to the popcorn popper and put the lid on. Make sure to follow the instructions for the popcorn popper you are using. Some say to put the lid on partially ajar.
- Place in the microwave and cook on High for 3 minutes. Add another minute if necessary. Use the popcorn setting if your microwave has that feature.
- In a small bowl add the melted butter (ghee or oil) and mix your spices together including the curry leaves and nigella seeds, if using.
- Add the spiced mixture to the popcorn and stir thoroughly. Your hands might be the best tool for this job. Taste for salt. If you want more flavor, add some of either or both of the masalas.
- Salt: If you used chaat masala in your curry popcorn, this spice mix has salt in it so you may not need any additional salt.