Friday, November 06, 2015

Squid/Kalamari/Bondaas Butter Garlic(Chinese)

Kalamari or Squid in India used to be a seafood item, mostly thrown as manure in estates and gardens until the late Eighties, when Chinese restaurants started making delicacies with it. At least in Mangaluru cuiity, I have never come across squid preparations at local restaurants until 1989. We friends used to go for fishing at the breakwaters near New Mangalore Port in the mid Eighties, when the fishing boat guys used to give us squid and some small fish free which we used as bait to catch fish. Locally they call it 'Bondaas'.

After 1989, I came across Bondaas Chilli and Manchurian at local restaurants, but I didn't like it much because it tasted rubbery and insipid. Then in 1991, as I was sitting at the counter of Knight Rider Pub talking to Alan the manager cum kitchen in charge about innovative snacks that he can introduce in the pub, Alan asked me if I'd like to taste Bondaas. I thought he was talking about Bonda, the deep fried snack like batata vada, and asked him if he makes vegetable bondas or potato bondas! He smiled aloud and said, he meant Squid! I ordered one plate of Bondaas Chilli and he prepared it himself, it turned out fantatic, and I fell for it immediately!

Then I started tasting squid at various restaurants, Chinese as well as local ones making Bondaas Sukkha, Masala Fried and Ghee Roast. Squid became a favourite with myself, as well as Meena. yet, we were choosy about the way they cooked, because over cooking or under cooking spoils the taste and texture of squid. Also, over grown squid needs some pressure cookign before using in dishes due to the thick coconut kernel like consistency. I think the name Bondaas was derived from Bonda(tender Coconut), because tender coconut malai or kernel resembles squid to a great extent.

Squid butter garlic is one Chinese dish that is very delicious and has lovely aroma that makes you eat more and more. It is rather bland, but you can make it spicy by adding some green chillies and an extra dash of pepper while making it. Most of the restaurants cut squid into rings but I like them in rectangular strips, scored on one side, which when fried, curl up and form a nice checkered pattern. Scoring also helps in marinating them properly. 

Scoring means making fine streaks or gashes on the inside portion of squid in a crisscross pattern. You can design checks or diamonds as you wish. It takes very little knack to score them properly, if you have a sharp knife, as shown in the pictures. if you are not confident or patient enough, just slice them into 1/4 inch thick rings.

Make this lovely dish and serve it as a starter, or as side dish with noodles or fried rice. I am sure, everyone at home will like this. Kids will jump with joy, for there are no spicy sauces, no extra pungent agents to cause heartburn or acidity. Most of the ingredients in this are natural, pure and healthy.
Squid(Kalamari/Bondaas) - 500 Gms
Garlic Cloves - 8-10 chopped
Green Chillies(Optional) - 2 finely Chopped
Spring onion bulbs - 4-6 chopped
Salt - 1/2 Tsp or to taste
White Pepper Powder - 2 Tsp(Add little more if you are not adding green chilli)
Sugar - 1/2 Tsp
Corn Flour - 2 Tbsp
Refined Flour - 1 Tbsp
Chicken/Vegetable Stock - 250 Ml(1 Maggi cube boiled in 250 ml water for 2-3 minutes)
Dark Soy Sauce - 1 Tsp
Diluted White Vinegar - 2 Tsp(Add 1/2 Tsp vinegar to sauce if you are not using lemon juice)
Lemon Juice(Optional) - 1 Tsp
Refined Oil - 2 Tsp + for deep frying
Butter - 2 Tbsp
Spring Onion Shoot - 2 Sprigs chopped

Clean wash and pat dry the squid.
With a very sharp knife, cut them open and make crisscross scores(Parallel gashes) only on the inside surface, taking care not to cut through them.
After you complete scoring, cut them into 2" long and 1 " wide rectangular strips.
Marinate the squid pieces with salt, 1 Tsp white pepper powder and vinegar for 1 hour.
Mix in 1 tbsp corn flour and 1 tbsp refined flour to coat the squid pieces.
Heat sufficient oil in a deep frying pan until it starts fuming and then maintain medium or small flame.
Fry as many squid pieces as the oil can hold at a time, for 3-5 minutes or until they turn crisp and golden.
Drain and keep them in the serving bowl.
Heat 2 Tsp oil in a shallow pan.
Mix remaining 1 Tbsp corn flour in little water to make a thin paste.
Stir fry chopped green chillies along with chopped garlic and spring onion bulb on high flame.
Add a pinch of salt, 1 tsp white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, then pour in the stock.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes.
Mix in the corn starch paste and allow the sauce to get thick and transparent.
Now add lemon juice(or vinegar), butter and if necessary little water, allow to sizzle for 1 minute.
The sauce should be as thick as sweet corn soup.
To serve with fried rice or noodles, pour the sauce over the fried squid.
To serve as a starter dish, drop the fried squid into the prepared sauce and allow the sauce to coat the pieces and make them semi dry. 
Garnish with chopped spring onion shoot and serve hot.

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