Shear the corn kernels from the cobs with a knife, working over a large bowl or tube pan
to catch the kernels. Run a knife along the cobs to press out the milky juices and add to the kernels. Break 4 cobs in half and combine with the half-and-half and 1 cup water in a saucepan
. Discard the remaining cobs or save for making a broth. Bring to a simmer
over medium heat, cover and steep
while you pull the rest of the ingredients together, about 10 minutes.
Put the shrimp
in a bowl of cold water with 1 tablespoon salt and set aside.
Heat a large non-reactive skillet over medium heat. Add one tablespoon of the butter and oil and when the butter melts, add the cumin seeds
, mustard seeds
and cook until the seeds pop, about 2 minutes. Add the chiles and ginger
and cook, stirring until lightly toasted, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon so the ginger toasts but doesn't stick, about 3 minutes.
Add the corn, strain
the corn-and-milk broth
to the pan and bring to a low simmer over medium heat. Discard the cobs. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Cook until the liquid reduces to coat the corn in a light sauce, 5 to 7 minutes. (The corn can be prepared ahead to this point.)
the shrimp well. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the shrimp with the curry leaves
, if using, and cook in the corn, covered, stirring periodically, until they curl and turn light pink, about 4 minutes. (If using cilantro, add after the shrimp are cooked). Whisk
in the remaining tablespoon butter. Serve with lime wedges and tomato chutney