Prep time: 12 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4, as a side or starter

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Masala Calamari is a favourite South Indian seafood recipe, loaded with flavour from fennel, coriander, and other spices. Once you’ve prepped, the calamari is quick to cook, and a popular starter for company!


  • 500g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili, ground
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1” piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
  • 6-8 shallots, sliced lengthwise
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1 green chili, split in half
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • ½ teaspoon fennel, ground (or crushed whole is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 lime cut into wedges (optional)



  1.  Apply salt, turmeric and ground red chili on cleaned squid.
  2.  Grind garlic, ginger, and shallots in a mixer or food processor until you get a coarse puree.
  3.  Heat oil in a work or deep frying pan on medium heat. Add mustard, curry leaves, and green chili stir for half a minute.
  4.  When the mustard starts to sizzle and pop, add garlic, ginger, and shallot puree to pan, along with ground coriander seeds. Allow shallot pieces to become translucent (about 2 minutes).
  5.  Add tomato to the pan and allow to fry, stirring, for 2 minutes until soft.
  6.  Add squid to the pan and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  7.  Add pepper and fennel. Squid is cooked in about 3-5 more minutes when the liquid in the pan dries up.
  8.  Squeeze half a lime on top, garnish with rings of onions if desired.


Critical Ingredients:

The squid isn’t critical! 🙂 You can make this same dish with prawns as well, and they take about the same time to cook! Shallots can be substituted by a small onion, and green chili can be substituted by red chilies. You can leave the turmeric out if necessary. Kashmiri chilies can be replaced by red chili powder. While I personally like the flavour of fennel, traditionally fennel is not added to seafood. Even without fennel and coriander, this dish tastes great! If you don’t like tomatoes, you can add ½ a teaspoon of plain white vinegar for acidity.

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