I grew up without the slightest idea of what squid tasted like and when I finally had a chance to eat it, I fell in love with its delicate flavours and addictive texture. Simply grilled, served in a Thai salad or Korean stir-fried dish, squid never disappoints me. This curry was no exception: it was simply sensational and made me very keen on learning more Indian seafood dishes.
As I have already mentioned while writing about Chicken Vindail, I have been totally hooked on Rick Stein’s India. In Search of the Perfect Curry, which is one of the best cookery books I have ever owned (and I include here all the national cuisines). This curry has immediately caught my eye not only because I love squid, but also because it is the last thing I expected to see in an Indian cookery book (and I have never seen squid on the menu of any Indian restaurant in Europe). It turned out so excellent and so perfectly paired with squid, I still find it difficult to imagine how such an extraordinary recipe can come from Karkera Canteen in Fort Mumbai and not from an elegant expensive restaurant.
I have slightly modified certain ingredients’ amounts and used coconut milk instead of grated fresh coconut, so I strongly invite you to check Rick Stein’s wonderful book for the original recipe and also to discover other fabulous Indian recipes.
TIPS: Do not increase the amounts of any spices (except for chilli), at least for the first time, otherwise you might end up with a slightly bitter sauce.
Preparation: about 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves two):
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
5 cloves garlic (peeled)
3 fresh red chillies
1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
100 ml/about 1.4 fl oz coconut milk or cream (or, if you can use fresh or frozen grated coconut, combine 50 g of it with 50 ml water)
400 g/about 14 oz cleaned (thawed if using frozen) squid
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 small onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 cm ginger, grated into a pulp
2 fresh green chillies, sliced
1/2 Kashmiri chilli powder (or any chilli powder you have)
1 small tomato, chopped (skinned or not)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cm tamarind block piece
1 teaspoon jaggery or 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar (not the coloured one!)
fresh coriander leaves, chopped
Pour 50 ml hot water it onto the tamarind piece. Leave for fifteen minutes. (In the meantime start preparing the masala paste and the curry). After this time, mix it well and strain leaving the seeds.
Prepare the squid.
Either cut it into rings (the author’s suggestion) or (the way I prefer squid): make a big vertical cut through the body, spreading it flat and score it diagonally in two directions, on the interior side. Cut the squid into long 2 cm thick strips. Then cut the strips and tentacles into bite-sized pieces.
Prepare the masala paste. Grind all the seeds into a powder in a spice or coffee grinder (you can of course use a pestle and mortar). Add the remaining ingredients and mix well in a food processor (baby food processor is very useful for such pastes).
Heat the oil and fry mustard seeds at medium heat until they start popping. Add the onion and stir-fry it for five minutes. Add the garlic, the ginger, the green chilli and fry for one minute. Finally, add the masala paste, the squid, the chilli powder, the tomato, salt and simmer for 3 minutes until the squid is cooked (i.e. no longer translucent). Add the tamarind water and sugar. Heat for 30 seconds.
Serve sprinkled with coriander leaves.