Balti Calamari Recipe
Balti Cuisine is all the rage in England these days. It is a style of cooking that is thought to have originated in modern day Northern Pakistan. The term “Balti” refers to the actual cooking vessel in which the food is both made and served. It is a rounded cast iron heavy bottom pot, similar to a wok, but with two handles. Balti dishes are very rich and flavorful and are famous for their use of highly aromatic spices.
If you’re a little squeamish about cooking or eating squid, then by all means feel free to substitute shrimp, rock shrimp, crawfish or even baby scallops for this recipe. Squid cooks very quickly, in just a matter of minutes so it’s best to have everything prepped & ready to go before hand. This dish comes together very quickly & is best eaten immediately.
BALTI CALAMARI (Quick Calamari Stir-Fry)
1 lb squid tubes (cleaned & trimmed)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
5-6 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
2 green onions (or chives), finely chopped on a diagonal or bias
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp sriracha (or any other chili sauce or chili paste), optional/to taste
pinch of turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
¼ tsp amchur powder (dried mango powder) – optional
¼ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp oil (peanut oil works well but vegetable or canola oil is fine)
freshly chopped green onions for garnish
On a clean work surface or cutting board, cut the squid tubes into roughly ½” thick size rings. Pat the squid rings dry with a clean tea towel (or paper towel) to remove any moisture and set aside until needed.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the onions and stir fry until lightly browned. Next add the ginger, garlic & green chilies along with the spices (turmeric, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, red chili powder, amchur powder, paprika, salt & pepper). Stir-fry for a few more minutes to allow the spices to cook. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste & sriracha. If the dish looks a little dry, just add water as needed. You can add as much water as you like – this dish can be eaten as either a dry stir-fry or a curry. Stir well and then add in the green onions. Cook for just a couple more minutes and then add the calamari. Mix well & toss to combine all of the ingredients together and let cook for just a few minutes until the calamari is opaque. Do not overcook the squid. Garnish with some green onions and serve with fresh chapatis & fragrant Basmati rice.
Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to this dish such as various color bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans, carrots, baby corn, green peas, zucchini, snow peas, bok choy, sugar snap peas…
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