Indian Squid Curry

squid_currypI 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):

Masala paste:

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.

Put aside.

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.



29 Replies to “Indian Squid Curry”

  1. I love both Indian food and squid. And I just happen to have part of package of pineapple cut squid in my freezer. I know what I’m making this weekend.

    1. I hope you will like it! Personally I get hungry whenever I look at this photograph… Indian seafood is such an amazing discovery!

      1. My poor attempt didn’t do justice to your recipe. I didn’t have any whole mustard seeds etc and ended up using garam masala. I should have used a Madras curry instead. Or even a regular curry powder. And the squid ended up tough and rubbery but I think that was due to the quality of the squid itself. Oh well, it was still good enough to eat by myself though not to serve to company. 🙂

        1. I’m sorry to hear that… but garam masala contains spices which don’t even appear here, so I’m not surprised it didn’t work from the point of view here (I mean especially cloves and nutmeg, which usually appear in garam masala, I think). Did you know Madras curry (and in general curry powder) is a British invention and you will never find it used in Indian dishes? In the Rick Stein’s series I heard a cook being very angry things about the invention of curry powder… As soon as I learnt it I decided to keep the rest of my curry powder to make for example grilling rub, but never to buy it again. I hope next time you’ll succeed.

  2. I like squid cooked any style from plain grilling to savory stir-fry but I haven’t tried squid with curry before. You always bring something different and that squid dish must be very flavorful. I like your photo, Sissi. All you need on that is a nice title font and it should look like a magazine page. I like the balance of lighting, composition, and look at that food styling. Simply amazing!

    ~ ray ~

    1. Dear Ray, your comment warms my heart. Thank you so much for such kind compliments! I appreciate them even more from such a professional photograph as you! I am really ashamed I don’t work enough on my graphic layout… I seem to lack time all the time… Thank you so much for motivating me! I’ll do something nicer one day.

  3. Very interesting. Never seen squid in any Indian restaurant menu either. Sounds very interesting, curious to try. They must catch a lot of squid – wonder where it ends up if its not common – maybe export?

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. Seafood and fish are staples apparently in certain India regions… The problem is what image of the Indian cuisine we have abroad. (Look what people think about the Japanese cuisine, based on the sushi/maki sushi served everywhere…). Moreover, it’s easier to cook meat curries: you can reheat it easily, etc.. Seafood has to be perfectly timed… Luckily Rick Stein has a big passion for fish and seafood, so his book is full of fantastic recipes.

  4. Isn’t it amazing, squid goes so well with any kind of spicy sauce. Even such basics as lemon juice, olive oil garlic and herbs will make it delicious. I love squid in chili and garlic loaded tomato sauce, but never tried any squid curry. Guess it will taste great.

    1. Thank you so much, Kiki. It was also my first squid curry and I am glad I discovered this new way to prepare it.

  5. When I think of squid, I think of the dishes from Italy and Thailand. This indian curry recipe sounds great. I agree totally with Ray, you captioned the dish perfectly and the purple napkin makes it pop.

  6. Living in a country surrounded by sea, squid was and still is a favorite meze not only for me but I think for all Greeks. I love the chewiness and texture of it. I think it goes perfectly with the curry sauce!

    1. Thank you, Katerina. Somehow, when I think about Greek cuisine, squid comes as the first sea creature.

  7. Curried squid – now that’s a new one. I have always enjoyed the Asian squid dishes. This dish looks completely different in the seasoning, and I’m sure it still has the same wonderful texture of the squid. A lovely dish!

  8. Nice presentation! I love seafood curry! When I make it, squid is must ingredient. I think I have a bag of frozen squid in my freezer…love to use it soon. Great recipe and a great pic!

  9. Lovely looking dish Sissi and if I were ever to give squid another try, this quite possibly would be the dish I’d choose! I have never been a fan of the texture but suspect that I may have been spoiled by poorly prepared North American versions – even in fancy restos – that amount to nothing more than rubber. The flavors are dynamite in this version and I’m sure elevate this preparation to a whole new level. Such an inventive and enticing recipe with a captivating photo to match.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I must say I was lucky because the first time I tasted squid it was in a Thai restaurant, deep-fried and then served in a garlic and honey sticky glaze… It was melting in mouth… but I avoid eating squid in Western restaurants. The worst, the most rubbery one I had was in a Greek restaurant in my city and when one thinks how Greeks love squid, they should be ashamed of serving such a thing (actually I think they cook it and then reheat by grilling!).
      I must say that my husband who usually doesn’t like squid, has fallen in love with it in Japan: it was so soft and fresh…

  10. I am intrigued Sissi, because you know we share the love of the texture of squid and like you, I am rather surprised to see it in a curry. I’m curious about Kashmiri chilli powder.

    1. Thank you, Eva. I think the choice of dishes Indian restaurants serve abroad is ridiculously restricted… I am now looking for more seafood/fish recipes from Indian cuisine because it was fabulous.

  11. Now with my higher tolerance for spicy food, I am actually excited to try this kind of spicy food. I love squid all my life (more than octopus) and I wish I could eat this right now! I remember you talked about this book. I should check it out. 🙂

    1. Thanks a lot, Nami. Actually, this curry wasn’t very hot (and you can adjust the chilli amount to your taste too). I hope you will try it one day.

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