Corn with feta & harissa

Wherever you are in Istanbul, a street food vendor offering a snack for small change is never far away. There is simit, of course. Chestnuts. Poğaça, the sometimes scones-like sometimes bun-like Turkish pastry. And there is mısır. Corn.

The current going rate is 2 liras ($0.66/€0.60); a bargain for sure if you’re hungry and on the road. But at my weekly market the offer is even better: I can now get my hands on 8 beautiful corns, husks still partly in tact, for just 5 liras ($1.65/€1.50). Rarely a week passes without my taking up the offer.

Corn - Corn with harissa and feta - recipe - A kitchen in Istanbul

I always boil my corn. In plenty of water seasoned with sugar, salt and a little turmeric, a tip I picked up from the Honey & Co cookbook. It really helps bring out the natural flavour of the corn and makes the colour even more vibrant. And if we’re barbecuing, they get a little of that smoky treatment too. And then we eat them immediately. Sometimes with a little butter and salt, sometimes not. They’re so tasty these days that they don’t really need much more.

But if the minimum purchase is 8 corns and you have no immediate plans of hosting a huge (corn) party, a little variation is in order. Luckily, corn loves flavour. Big flavour.

Mais med fetaost og harissa (2 of 2)

I’m not sure whether to call this a salsa or a salad. It’s really either. And in any case that’s not important. What’s important is this: the combination of the sweetest corn, fragrant and spicy harissa and salty feta is quite simply delicious.

While I use fresh corn which I’ve boiled, tinned corn works too if your local market doesn’t sell them in bunches of eight. Or if you just prefer the convenience of tins; while most canned veggies leave much to be desired, canned corn is really rather good. Second, coriander is a bit of an issue in this househould so I use flat-leaf parsley. If alone and it’s available I substitute coriander – it works even better in this.

Serve this alongside whatever you’ve put on the barbecue or with fried meat or fish. Or devour the whole thing alone, with nothing else (yes, I’ve done it). Serves 2-4, depending on what else is on offer.


  • 1 corn or equivalent tinned (in which case you want about 175 g drained weight)
  • 20 g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander (thick stalks discarded)
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

My method

  1. If using fresh corn, boil it in plenty of water with 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and a pinch of turmeric added per litre of water. Drain and slice off the kernels with a sharp knife. If using tinned corn, simply drain.
  2. Mix the corn, feta, spring onion and parsley or coriander in a bowl.
  3. Whisk together harissa, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Fold into the corn mixture and season.

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