Dreaming of Kerala – Squid Coconut Fry

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Kerala, often called ‘God’s own country’, is the perfect destination for the avid traveller who seeks adventure, beauty and tasty food. It encompasses so many different experiences and terrain in this sunshine state that no day is ever quite the same. Over the course of the last few weeks my family and I (and not other animals) spent time in Cochin, exploring their diverse places of worship as well admiring their famous Chinese fishing nets.

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The Western ghats, which provide the state, and much of the wider world, with tea, cardamom and coffee.

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The calming, slower pace of life in the emerald backwaters,

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and of course the palm fringed beaches of the coast and the gloriously warm Arabian sea.

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Along the way I met some wonderful people, both locals and fellow travellers, who all made our experience of Kerala very memorable. It was tough to say goodbye to the warm rays and friendly smiles and head back to a much colder London, which is now firming in the throes of winter.

During our travels I learned to cook a wealth of Keralan recipes from chefs and home cooks who welcomed us into their homes and kitchens. Meet some of them below. From left ‘Mummy’ from Philip Kutty’s Farm,  Sreeja  from Marari Beach Hotel and Moly from Cochin, who allowed me to shadow her for the day.

Prior to visiting the state I had a preconceived notion that a lot of the cuisine would be vegetarian, however this is not the case. In Kerala, Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews (there are only 6 now left in Cochin) live harmoniously and respectfully amongst one another. As such we feasted on chicken, lamb, pork and beef as well as delicious fresh and seawater fish, shellfish and a host of vegetarian dishes. Coconut oil and coconut in many forms, is the heart of many Keralan dishes along with the irresistibly sour tamarind and kokum, the latter being new to me. “Kera” in Malayalam (the language of Kerala) means coconut. As Kerala is abundant with coconut plants, it naturally got the name Kerala. Yes, many of the dishes in Kerala have heat, but with the cooling qualities of  coconut, many had their chilli bite tempered.

Over the coming months I will intersperse my blog posts with temptingly delicious Keralan dishes that will hopefully encourage you to try cooking them at home.

First up is ‘Squid Coconut Fry’, which in all honesty takes 10 minutes and that includes the prepping and cooking. So look no excuses not to give this a whirl. It is so good you’ll be cooking it time and time again. IMG_2160

 Squid Coconut Fry

Serves 2 (or 4 if serving with other dishes)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

2 dried red Kashmiri chillies, halved and seeds removed if you like it less hot

10 pieces of thinly sliced fresh coconut or dried coconut slices

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tsp ginger paste

1 fresh green chilli (2 if you like it hot)

10 curry leaves

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

300g squid tubes, chopped into thin rings

1/4 juice of a lemon

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 garam masala

  1. First get all the ingredients ready as the dish takes no time to cook and you will want to eat it immediately. This dish is not good to be reheated.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a pan. When it is hot add the mustard seeds and red chillies followed by the thin coconut slices. Keep the heat on a medium to low heat.
  3. After 20 seconds add the garlic, ginger, fresh green chilli and curry leaves.
  4. Move around the pan for a minute before adding the red onion and salt.
  5. Now add the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and allow the flavours to come together in the pan. Allow the onion to soften for 3-5 minutes
  6. Add the squid and move around the pan. Cook for a further 3 minutes.
  7. Add the lemon, pepper and garam masala. Move the ingredients around the pan.

Serve immediately. All the wonderful flavours will have wrapped themselves around the squid culminating in the most appetising of dishes.

Quick and easy. I would serve with rice, a vegetable curry and a dal (see my recipe library).

 


10 Minute Asian Squid With Noodles

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I love all the traditional feasting around Christmas and the warm, inviting smells that come from the kitchen. Sometimes however, I think it is rather refreshing to have a completely different, spicy type of dish to feed the family over the Christmas week.

Squid is very economical, especially if you are feeding large numbers and takes minutes to cook. So I imagine you have been feasting royally over Christmas and Boxing Day and you crave something a little lighter and perhaps a chilli kick. You want minimum fuss to prepare a work of wonder. Step forward my ‘Asian Squid with Noodles’ to feed the family. It really is ridiculously easy and quick and you will be rewarded by many happy faces. By all means tone down the chilli if you are feeding to little ones (I tend to do a separate one for my youngest).

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I find the best place to buy squid is fresh from the fishmonger or from the fresh fish counter at your local supermarket. The fishmonger can gut the squid for you so that all you need to do is to cut it into rings. Gutting the squid yourself though can be rather good fun, but perhaps not if you are squeamish. I will do a vimeo of me doing it next time I make this and will then paste it up here for you to see. Watch this space. It’s actually very easy and my daughters actually enjoy helping me with this part.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year.

10 Minute Asian Squid With Noodles

serves 4

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 white onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 inch of ginger, finely grated

1 red pepper, chopped

2 green chillies, finely sliced

1 handful of fresh sugar snaps

400g squid, cut into rings

1 tbsp five spice powder

3 tbsp light soy sauce

1 handful of fresh coriander

250g medium egg noodles

1 lime, quartered

1. In a bowl add the five spice powder to the squid rings and put to one side.

2. Place the oil into a wok or shallow pan and add the onion, garlic, ginger. Cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding the red pepper, green chillies, sugar snaps. Cook for a further couple of minutes before adding the five spiced squid.

3. Move around the pan so that ingredients do not burn. Add the soy sauce and continue to cook for 3 more minutes.

4. Boil the egg noodles according to the packet and then drain and serve into bowls.

5. Just before serving add the fresh coriander to the squid.

6. Spoon the Asian squid onto the noodles, place the lime on top and serve immediately.