Koondal peera – Squid (calamari) fried with ginger and grated coconut

Squid is a unique kind of seafood. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles. In English speaking countries, squid as food is often sold using its Italian name calamari. Its rubbery texture and opaque color has led a lot of people to misunderstand it to be tasteless. But those who know about squids, will know that, if cooked in the right way, can be one of the tastiest. It can be cooked in various ways – barbecue, curry, fry etc. The arms and tentacles are edible, the parts that are not eaten are the ink, beak and gladius (pen). Cleaning squid is fairly simple, you just need to know the right technique as with crab, prawn etc.
At home, I prepare squid in various ways, when I feel lazy, I shallow fry it, which is the simplest way. Sometimes when I feel less lazy its squid masala or I fry it with coconut and ginger, which is the recipe I am about to share here. It has a very gingery flavor with a coconut masala. This tastes great with rice.

Ingredients:

Squid – 1/2 kg, cleaned and cut into rings or strips
Kudampuli – 2 pieces
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Shallots – 8-10, peeled and crushed
Grated coconut, crushed lightly – 1 cup
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1/4 tsp (to be crushed with the coconut)
Ginger, grated – 1/4 cup
Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed
Green chillis – 4-5, (or as per your spice tolerance) crushed
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves – A few

Method:

1. Cook the squid with the kudampuli, turmeric, salt and 1/4 cup water for about 10 minutes or till the squid turns whitish from opaque, on medium heat. By this time the squid would have released its juices too.
2. Add the shallots, and cook till the water has almost completely evaporated. Add the coconut-jeera mixture, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the curry leaves and coconut oil, and sauté for another 5-10 minutes and the squid is ready to be served. It’s quite a simple preparation, having a distinctive flavor of ginger.

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Quilon Shark Curry

Quilon is a coastal area and they are famous for their unique cuisine, which mainly focuses on seafood. This is a popular dish made from small shark, called “sravu” in Kerala. Shark Curry, or Varutharacha sravu curry. It’s a thick dark brown curry with the taste of a variety of spices flirting with your taste-buds, making it almost impossible to decide which flavor taste’s better. It’s a lil tangy, a lil bitter, lil spicy and very hot! If your tongue has even a little ability to take hot and spicy food, make the best use of it while eating this, coz this is one of those curries which tends to be stubborn on being itself and not being altered at all. Not that it is any less tasty if you make slight changes, but if you reduce the spices in this recipe, it loses some of it original charm. But I’m sure you’d still enjoy it no less.

Ingredients:

  1. Shark 500 gms, Cleaned and cut into cubes
  2. Coconut 1, grated
  3. Methi 1/4 tsp
  4. Turmeric 1/4 tsp
  5. Saunf 1/2 tsp
  6. Peppercorns 1 tsp
  7. Coriander seeds 2 tbsp
  8. Kashmir chilies, the long wrinkled ones 5 (For color)
  9. Spicy dry red chillies 5
  10. Shallots 3 (This is used to balance the smell and flavor of all the spices)
  11. Tomato 1
  12. Green chillies 3 or 4 (You can reduce or avoid this one if your tongue is on the sober side, coz it wouldn’t make a huge difference to the curry’s texture or color unlike the dry chillies or pepper)
  13. Curry leaves 2 sprigs
  14. ‘Kudampuli’ or kochampuli 3 strips or pieces (Soaked in 3/4 cup hot water)

For seasoning:

  1. Coconut oil
  2. Curry leaves 1 sprig
  3. Dry red chillies 2 Broken into 2 or 3 pieces
  4. Shallots 5-6, sliced

Method:

  • Roast the ingredients 2 – 10 together, till the coconut starts to turn golden in color. Let it cool.
  • Once its cool, grind it into a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Heat a Meen-chatti (Flat earthen pot used mainly or rather exclusively for cooking fish in Kerala), add tomato green chillies, 2 sprigs of curry leaves and the soaked kochampuli (with the water). Saute till the tomato becomes soft.
  • Add the fish pieces, stir slowly and carefully so as not to break the fish.
  • When the fish turns white in color, add the ground masala.
  • When it starts to boil turn off the heat. Don’t let it boil for long coz it makes the gravy watery and looses the texture of the curry.
  • Heat the coconut oil, and add the remaining ingredients for seasoning.
  • Add this to the curry, close lid immediately and keep aside for at least 1 hour before serving. This curry tastes good with plain white rice.

Kerala fish curry, without coconut

Now, let me give you the recipe which is cherished by all the (non-vegetarian) coastal residents of Kerala, but mainly by the visitors of “kallu-shaaps”(toddy shop). This is always served with toddy, as a side-dish at the local toddy shops. Its also known as “thalennathe meen curry” or 1 day old fish curry, coz its usually not served as soon as its made, its heated and reheated about 2 to 3 times throughout the day that its made and served the next day, by when it would have turned into a deep red shade and definitely irresistible! It’ll most definitely not come out anywhere close to its authentic taste if prepared in any other form of utensil other than a meen-chatti.

Its a spicy red gravy, which isn’t too thick nor too thin in consistency.. It may look a little scary to the weak-hearted folks. You might think that it’ll claim your tongue, but trust me its not so bad, you’ll agree with me once u try it. My dad for one hates any food that’s even close to spicy (or so he claims). Everytime and every meal that mom makes this curry (any given meal is incomplete in our house without it) dad has to crib that it’s so hot that he gets hiccups (he says so for everything which has more than a pinch of chilly in it, but still licks his plate, when we’re not watching!) but he won’t let a day pass when he would not help himself to a handsome serving of the ‘notorious curry’. So here goes…

Ingredients:

  • Fish 1/2 kg cut and cleaned
  • Onion 1 sliced
  • Tomato 1 sliced
  • Green chillies 1 or 2 slit in half
  • Ginger 1 big piece chopped
  • Kashmiri chilly powder 4-5 tbsp (Use the non-spicy one which is just for color and texture, DON’T USE THE SPICY ONE IN THE ABOVE MENTIONED QUANTITY!!  If u do, i will not be responsible for any casualties arising from its consumption… & I mean it!!)
  • Hot chilly powder 1 tsp ONLY, coz the kashmiri chilly will have a bit of spiciness in itself, and we’re also adding green chillies
  • Tamarind almost half a handful soaked in hot water and about 1 tea-cup thick juice extracted (its not a a typing mistake, you’ll actually need so much)
  • Turmeric powder 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar 1 tsp (to balance all the flavors)

The fish, it’s called ‘Uluva-meen’ or ‘Kadambe’ in Malayalam, no idea what its called in English.. you can use any other fish of your choice

For seasoning:

  • Coconut oil 4-5 tbsp
  • Garlic 8-9 cloves, crushed
  • Curry leaves 3 sprigs

Method:

  • All the ingredients together (except the fish), crush it well with your hands.
  • Then add the fish. Add about 2 cups of water.
  • Simmer for about 1/2 an hour. By then it would be almost a dark red to orange color, and quite thick in consistency.
  • Add the seasoning ingredients directly to the curry. Close lid immediately. Keep aside. Reheat after about 5-6 hours, repeat again in another 5-6 hours.
  • Serve with rice and a couple of ‘’Kaandhari mulagu’ (bird’s eye chilly) . Mash the chillies into the gravy and there you go!! The kallu shop fish curry or 1 day old fish curry is ready to be served.. Enjoy!!