Let’s Cook! Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread

January 30, 2011

As a true Southern Boy, one of my genetically ingrained loves is cornbread – and surprisingly, my favorite cornbread recipe comes from (of all places) a cookbook by an Indian chef!

Suvir Saran is the Michelin star rated chef-owner of Devi restaurant in Manhattan, and the author of two cookbooks: “Indian Home Cooking” and “American Masala” in which he adds Indian influences and flavors to traditional American favorites. He has also made many television appearances, including being a featured guest chef on last seasons “Next Food Network Star” on the Food Network.

I first became aware of Chef Saran several years ago from an article written by the Tampa Tribune food writer Jeff Houck in which he recounted attending a food demo put on by the chef at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (and there is your Disney reference if you’re going to insist on one…). A couple of years later I was fortunate enough to get to meet Chef Saran at Epcot and in addition to being a great chef, he also seems to be a very gracious and intelligent man.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend any of his culinary events there and he hasn’t been back to the festival the past few years (even though he was originally scheduled to be there a couple of years ago).

The cornbread recipe comes from “American Masala” and is one of those dishes that never fails to draw raves and constant requests for the recipe, so for everyone that has asked, here you go:

Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread

Makes one 9-inch skillet


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 3 ears of corn)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated

1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper (cored and seeded if you prefer a milder flavor), sliced into thin rings

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2/3 cup fat-free plain yogurt


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set the rack to the lowest position. Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and when melted reduce heat to low.

In a large bowl combine the rest of the ingredients except for the egg and yoghurt.

In a medium bowl whisk together the egg and yoghurt and then add it to the other ingredients in the large bowl.

Stir until just combined, the mixture will be thick and it’s okay if a few dry patches remain.

Carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet and with a spatula or spoon press the batter down in the pan.

The butter should rise up and cover the top of the batter. Tilt and rotate the skillet if needed so that the melted butter evenly covers the top.

Bake about 30 – 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 or 10 minutes before removing the cornbread and slicing to serve.

This is not just my favorite cornbread recipe, but one of my favorite recipes period. I actually make it pretty much according to the recipe each time (though of course, I may add a bit more cayenne and maybe an extra jalapeno – which I actually chop rather than slice into rings – depending on who I’m cooking for). With all the butter and the cheese it’s not exactly a diet recipe, but as a special occasion treat it’s really hard to beat.

Turned out of the pan… okay, so there’s a couple of pieces of the crust missing… they were delicious!

If you try any recipe here, try this one and please post your (glowingly adoring) thoughts!

Also, if you couldn’t guess, I recommend both of Chef Saran’s cookbooks highly!

Now back to the kitchen…

13 Responses to “Let’s Cook! Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread”

  1. Bonnie Says:

    He’s right, this recipe is absolutely delicious. We used fresh cilantro from our garden,bought fresh corn on the cob and a small jalapeno. I would get a bigger jalapeno next time, and trust me, there will be a next time, so yummy!


  2. […] Suvir Suran (you may know him from this years Top Chef Masters, and of course, his kick-ass cornbread recipe). I’m hoping his new “Masala Farm” book will be out and available for […]


  3. Suvir Saran Says:

    Andy you embarrass me with your praise.
    Did you make cornbread before this one?
    or did you only eat what others made?

    Charlie’s Grandma Hayes, was very famous in Huntington, WV for her cornbread. She had “them special” fingers and just the perfect proportion for making cornbread. Of course I added some of the Indian sensibilities to her recipe, but kept the ratio pretty much as Grandma wanted. I use yogurt and parmigiano reggiano in the recipe, two ingredients other than the herbs and spices that grandma also never used. She also used canned-corn, I use fresh and often roast it too.

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos. You are an inspired gourmand I see. I am blessed to have had you cooking from my books. This is most gracious and kind of you. I shall be in your debt forever.

    Best regards,



    • fishyrocketboy Says:

      Yes Chef, I’ve made many a cornbread in my day… 😉
      I’ve cooked most of my life, and being born and raised in Alabama, cornbread is a staple…


  4. […] the cornbread from an Indian chef!), so I urge you to go back and read (or re-read) the post on Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread, but in case you don’t, I’ll reiterate a bit about Chef Saran directly from that […]


  5. […] Readers will know of my admiration for Suvir and his food (if you are new here, please go and read Let’s Cook! Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread and Let’s Cook! Fried Chicken Masala before continuing…). And I’ve found that he his […]


  6. […] Dedicated Readers won’t be shocked that this is yet another creation from Suvir Saran’s “American Masala” cookbook. If you’re not familiar with Suvir (and you should be), take a look at my intro to his cornbread recipe here. […]


  7. […] are on the blog: Fried Chicken Masala (amazing!); Simple Roasted Cauliflower; Coconut Rice; Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread (THE cornbread! Trust me!); […]


  8. ms Says:

    this was the most delicious cornbread I have ever tasted! It is best fresh out of the oven. It doesn’t reheat very well but so amazing the 1st day!


  9. […] Remove the chops to a serving plate and the beans to a bowl… this is really good with a side of greens and some cornbread (maybe try Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread?)! […]


  10. Eliza Clayton Says:

    I agree this is the most amazing cornbread recipe! I am making it for a large group and am wondering if I can double the recipe using an 11” cast iron? Thanks!


    • fishyrocketboy Says:

      I haven’t tried it in a larger pan, but I think I’d just make two smaller/regular size skillets just to be safe…


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