Indian popcorn step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
About this recipe
Crunchy, salty, and perfectly spiced masala popcorn is so more-ish, that you just can't get enough of it. This Indian popcorn stays fresh and crisp for days - if you manage to save it though! They are so addictive, that your bowl will empty before you know it.
The key ingredient in making this spiced popcorn perfectly crisp is ghee. Ghee is nothing but clarified butter, that is made by heating butter until the moisture evaporates and the milk solids separate. You can easily make ghee at home or it is easily available in Indian stores and supermarkets.
Ghee not just helps make the popcorn crunchy, but it also adds the buttery flavor that we all love in a good popcorn. The addition of turmeric in this Indian popcorn gives it that golden hue you see in movie theater popcorn.
Don't want masala popcorn? Just skip the spices and season with salt alone. This budget-friendly snack is ready in 10 minutes and is cheaper than buying a microwave bag of popcorn.
I am also sharing how to make popcorn in an Instant Pot. It is really easy, and less messy, and you will see that there are fewer unpopped corn kernels. Read on for different cooking methods, ingredients, and step-by-step instructions to make yummy delicious movie theater popcorn.
Can I make popcorn in the Instant Pot?
Yes. I find Instant Pot one of the best ways to make popcorn at home. The main reason is that the pot heats evenly and maintains the heat throughout the process, which is very important to get all the corn kernels popped. Next, it is also less messy to make popcorn in the Instant Pot when compared to the stovetop.
I have made popcorn in several ways and found the Instant Pot gives me the best results. There were fewer unpopped corn kernels and none of the popped corn kernels were burnt.
However, if you do not have access to an Instant Pot, I am also listing alternative cooking methods to make masala popcorn.
Alternative cooking method
Heat a heavy-bottom saucepan (make sure it is hot) and add ghee/coconut oil. To check if the pot is hot enough, add 1-2 corn kernels and wait for them to pop. Once they pop, add the spices and corn kernels. Mix well and cover with a well-fitting lid.
Let the corn kernels pop - this may take 8-10 minutes depending on the heat. Keep shaking the pot every few minutes and keep a close eye as the popcorn may burn easily if unmonitored.
Place the ghee/ coconut oil, spices, and corn kernels in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix well and cover with a well-fitting lid, with space for the steam to escape. Microwave for 3-4 minutes.
Once the corns are popped, let them sit for about a minute before opening the lid. You may choose to skip the oil when popping corn in a microwave. Do not leave the popcorn unattended when microwaving it.
Popcorn kernels: Use kernels that are fresh and have the right amount of moisture (see tips section).
Ghee: Ghee works best in this recipe and also gives you that buttery flavor. You can use store-bought or homemade ghee. For a vegan version, use coconut oil.
Spices: I use ground turmeric, chili powder (or cayenne), and chaat masala. Chaat masala is a spice mix that is commonly used in Indian street foods and savory snacks. It is made with dried mango powder, black Indian salt (kala namak), cumin powder, and several other spices. It is easily available in Indian grocery stores or other online stores.
Lemon/lime juice: This is purely optional. If using, add it just before serving (see tips section below).
Set the Instant Pot to saute mode (more). Wait for the pot to heat and indicate 'Hot' (step 1). Add ghee and let it melt (step 2).
Add the ground turmeric, chili powder, salt, and corn kernels (steps 3,4).
Mix well to coat them evenly. Wait for 30 seconds and mix again. The kernels will begin to sizzle at this stage (step 5).
Put the glass lid on. The popcorn begins to pop after about one minute (steps 6,7).
Let all the corn kernels pop. This may take 5-6 minutes (step 8).
Once the corn is popped, add chaat masala and mix well (steps 9,10).
Use the right popcorn kernels. They must be fresh and not too dry. If they are dry and lack moisture content, they will not pop. Make sure the kernels are within the use-by date.
To revive old and dry kernels, place one cup of the kernels in a jar and add one tablespoon of water. Seal the lid and give it a good shake. Let it sit overnight so that the kernels can absorb the moisture.
It is really important that the pot is hot before you add the corn kernels. Select saute mode and set it to more (highest). Wait for the IP to display the 'Hot' message before you being.
Use ghee (clarified butter) for the best-tasting popcorn. It has a high smoking point and will not burn. It also adds that delicious buttery flavor to the popcorn. However, for a vegan version, replace it with coconut oil.
Chaat masala adds a unique flavor to this Indian spiced popcorn. You can easily buy chat masala in any Indian grocery store or several online stores. However, if you do not have access to it, substitute with dry mango powder and black Indian salt.
It is really important to add the lemon juice just before serving. If you plan to make the popcorn and store it, do not add the lemon juice. Add it only when you are ready to serve.
Chaat masala or chat masala is a spice mix that is commonly used in 'chaat' - savory street foods and snacks. It is made with dried mango powder, black Indian salt (kala namak), cumin powder, and several other spices. It is easily available in Indian grocery stores.
Oil with a high smoking point (like ghee or coconut oil) works best to make popcorn. I like to use ghee to make this masala popcorn as it also adds a buttery flavor. To make it vegan, use coconut oil.
Store the popcorn in an air-tight container at room temperature. Do not add lemon/lime juice if you plan to store the popcorn as it will turn soggy.
There are two main reasons - old kernels and uneven heat. If the kernels are old, they may be too dry to pop. See the tips section above on how to revive them. Also, they will not pop if the pot is not hot and the heat is not maintained throughout the popping. Make sure the pot is hot (saute - more) before starting to make the popcorn.
No. Butter tends to burn quickly and is not suitable for making popcorn. To flavor your popcorn with butter, it is best to add melted butter to the popcorn once it is cooked.
This Indian popcorn recipe is:
- tried and tested,
- a unique twist to your regular popcorn,
- perfect for movie nights and snacks.
Indian Spiced Popcorn / Masala Popcorn
- ¾ cup popcorn kernels
- 3 tablespoon ghee
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chaat masala
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode (more).
- Once it indicates 'hot', add ghee and let it melt.
- Add the ground turmeric, chili powder, and salt.
- Add the corn kernels and mix well to coat them evenly.
- Wait for 30 seconds and mix again. The kernels will begin to sizzle at this stage.
- Put the glass lid on. The popcorn begins to pop after about one minute.
- Let all the corn kernels pop. This may take 5-6 minutes.
- Cancel the saute mode and let it sit for one more minute.
- Add chaat masala and mix well.
- If you plan to serve the popcorn immediately, add the lemon juice and mix well.
- If you plan to store the popcorn, do not add the lemon juice. Cool and store the popcorn in an air-tight container. Add the lemon juice just before serving.