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Stuffed & Braised Calamari!!

Staying in Mumbai has a definite plus point when it comes to buying fresh sea food. In fact, I feel every non-vegetarian in this island city, and more, should opt for these fresher sources of protein, rather than just sticking to you regular frozen meats. It is much more flavourful, easy and quick to cook, and would be very easily available throughout a sea food market. Sunday is one day of a week or a fortnight that should be dedicated to buying fresh edibles, be it veggies or proteins. One day of planning can actually save many from the regular hassles of ‘what to cook today’!! I had got many requests from my newly matrimonized friends, about a lesson on freezing and planning meals. So, pretty soon I am going to write up an interesting bit on how a day’s hard work will reap u a week’s worth of fresh homemade, healthy food.

Now the story that led me to make these delicious treat for dinner yesterday! If you follow my blog, we made adelicious pasta dish last, in which I used an essentially Indian pesto. I got a bit left over, and thought why not use it as a stuffing. The Sunday market in my neighbourhood boasted of a beautiful catch of fresh squids/calamari (rather inexpensive too) and I had to try filling the baby ones and cook it to perfection. I saved the squid crowns and fins for flavourful fried rice or a stir-fry, while using the whole squid-tubes to make an Italian favourite, Stuffed Calamari, braised in tomato sauce. Needless to say, I used fresh tomatoes, instead of a can, and added a bit of onion and sugar to balance the acidity. I reckon, this dish will stand perfect with a bowl of salted-boiled pasta. Spoon over the braising sauce on the boiled pasta, along with a stuffed calamari (sliced on an angle) on top, to make a perfect little Italian dinner treat! Buon appetito!!!

Ingredients
  • IMG_0009 5 fresh baby Squids/ calamari
  • 2 tbsp of the fresh coriander-garlic-peanuts-cumin seeds mix from the post “Pasta that was Indianized!!!
  • ¼ cup of ground fresh whole-wheat bread (fresh bread ground to make crumbs)
  • 2 tsp drained capers
  • 2 tbsp Del-monte Olives, chopped
  • Pepper
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, grated
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fresh garlic paste
  • ½ tsp hot red pepper flakes or powder
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar and salt to taste
  • Fresh sprigs of cilantro or basil chopped
  • 5 sticks of wooden tooth pick
Method

First, we will make the filling. In a clean dry bowl, mix together the bread crumbs with the fresh coriander-garlic-peanuts-cumin seeds mix, capers, olives, black pepper and a tsp or so of olive oil. The olive oil should moisten the mix enough to clump it together. Taste it once for seasoning, and set it aside for the flavours to mingle together.

Now clean and pat dry your squid tubes on a kitchen towel. Make sure to remove the plasticky bone that runs through the tube.

Fill in the tubes with the filling mix, making sure that u keep 1/3 of the top space empty. If you fill in the squids a bit too much, the filling might burst out of the squids while cooking. Secure the top closed, with a help of a wooden tooth pick.

For the sauce, heat a pan with high sides on medium flame with a couple of tbsp olive oil.

Once the oil is warm, put in the onion and fry it till translucent. Now put in the garlic paste and the chilli powder/flakes and sauté it for a minute.

When the pan is aromatic with a perfectly caramelized onion and garlic mush, drop in the grated tomato, sugar & salt. Mix it thoroughly and let it come to a boil. Once there, mix in a quarter cup of white wine and dried herbs, let it simmer for a minute, for the alcohol to disperse, then slowly add in the stuffed calamari. Top the pan with a bit of water so that the squids are submerged inside

Now clamp the lid on the pan partially and simmer it on medium to low heat, for 45 minutes. Give it a stir every now and then. By the end, the squids would have puffed up beautifully and become opaque white all through.

To make it a one pot wonder, add a cup of dry pasta and a ½ cup of water to the pan, after simmering the squids for 35 minutes. In the next 10 minutes, the pasta will cook to al dente, while soaking in the flavoured tomato sauce, and also act as a thickener for the sauce. After 45 minutes, you would have a wonderful dinner to serve, from one single pot!!

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