spicy calamari


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

spicy calamari
There’s something calming that accompanies the sound of the ocean water splashing against the rocks while the breeze caresses your face. Sticking your wet toes in the sand while you stare across into the horizon and forget everything that’s on your mind. At least that what’s we anticipated when we took a quick day trip to the beach in Santa Cruz. 
Amusingly enough, it was quite the opposite. The winds were very chilly and wild! So was Snoopy, the thought of sitting down calmly was not something he was in the mood for. He wanted to play with the other dogs and eat sea weed. The two of us struggled with our packed lunches which kept getting stuffed with sand. Finally we looked at each other after spending two hours of frustration trying to battle the cold winds and sand and decided that perhaps this would have been a calmer day if we stayed at home. We walked back to the car, more annoyed than ever and began our drive back home. After a few minutes in the car driving, we looked at each other and smiles started to form which turned into laughter. While the dog was being crazy at the beach he had now sunk into a deep state of slumber in the back seat of the car while the two of us were exhausted from all the craziness of those two hours at the beach. I really feel these crazy things happen only to us but then again we might not remember these moments years from now! I’m sure we will go back to the beach and definitely be better prepared than our first visit! 

mise en prep calamari

What would life not be without a little bit of craziness or spice for that matter! Calamari is one of my favorite seafood appetizers to eat in summer and I’m sharing one of my favorite ways to make calamari at home. I’ve added several ingredients that are commonly used in Goan cuisine that give these guys a delicious flavorful kick. Cornmeal gives these squid a super crispy crust that with will make you want to eat more with every crunch bite. I’m not a big fan of dipping sauces when it comes to eating calamari, I prefer a splash of fresh lemon juice over them but feel free to pair this with your favorite dipping sauces. 
spicy calamari goan indian style
spicy calamari

yields: 4 servings


2 lbs squid, cleaned
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon chili powder (I used freshly ground dried Kashmiri chilies but if Cayenne also works great here)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, freshly ground
1 clove (approximately one teaspoon) of garlic , minced 
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour
vegetable for frying
2 cups cornmeal
a few fresh lemon wedges and a few fresh cilantro/parsley leaves for garnishing

1. Wipe any excess liquid from the squid using clean paper towels. Using a sharp knife cut the head off and the body into rings, place on a clean paper towel. (Food52 has a great tutorial on how to clean and cut squid).
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg. Add all the ingredients from the sea salt to the cornflour and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the cut squid until coated evenly. Allow to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. 
3. Heat 2 inches of the oil in a wok on a medium-high flame. In the meantime, place the cornmeal in a medium-sized tray. Using a fork pick up the marinating pieces of squid and toss them in the cornmeal until completely coated. Place the coated pieces on a sheet of parchment paper. 
4. As soon as the oil gets hot at around 375F,  fry about 1/4th of the cornmeal-coated squid until golden brown (don’t overcrowd the wok or they won’t cook evenly). The squid will cook within 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, immediately transfer with a slotted spoon onto a clean sheet of absorbent paper towels to drain the excess oil. Repeat with the rest of the squid. Serve hot with fresh lemon wedges and garnish with a little fresh cilantro or parsley leaves.

12 Responses

  1. Fried Calamari is my favorite appetizer anytime! Outstanding pics….i'm so tempted right now 🙂

  2. I love calamari, but better yet, this spicy calamari!!!!
    I have never made calamari myself, but because of this, I think it's time to start 🙂
    <3 <3 <3 your photographs so much 🙂

  3. Love these calamari; the spices makes this dish really special. I could imagine enjoying these at a beach but on a not so stormy day, please 😉 You're so lucky to have easy access to fresh calamari…or at least I think you have. It's truly one of the most delicious seafood when prepared the right way (basically not cooking it for too long).

  4. the pacific is ill-named and ill-tempered. it's quite beautiful though, like a beast. if you want to relax, we should go to one of those beaches on the eastern side of tomales bay – it's sheltered.

  5. Love the look of this crispy & crunchy calamari Nik. Such delicious details in each & every frame. It's squiding season right now in Australia, so I will be making a lot of fresh & crunchy calamari too 🙂

  6. I something very similar to this—–calamari with a snap and then it was used as a salad—heavy on the calamari. OMG it was sooooooooooooooooo good. This is wonderful way to fix calamari.

  7. ohhh ive never had them spiced! I've only had them plain in italian restaurants, or in some Chinese restaurants spiced with lots of pepper but this sounds great!

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