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Turmeric Squid with Tamarind Sauce


From Where Flavor Was Born, by Andreas Viestad

This is calamari Asian-style, with lots of temperament and fresh flavors. The sweet-and-sour-tamarind sauce makes the dish light and fresh-tasting, so it is perfect as a snack or an appetizer.

Serve with salad or steamed vegetables. This recipe also works well with fish instead of squid; a similar dish with sea bass is common in Thailand.

Serves 2 as a main course

2 tablespoons tamarind pulp or 2 to 3 teaspoons tamarind paste

1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar, or more to taste

1 tablespoon fish sauce, or more to taste

1/4 cup water

2 to 3 dried chiles, plus a few chiles for garnish

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon powdered turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 pound cleaned squid, bodies sliced, tentacles left whole

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Fried onions or scallions for garnish (optional)

In a small pot, combine the tamarind pulp or paste, sugar, fish sauce, and water and bring to a boil. Remove the tamarind seeds if you used tamarind pulp. Add the dried chiles and boil over low heat for 15 minutes, or until you have a smooth sauce. Adjust the sauce for sweetness and saltiness with more palm sugar and/or fish sauce to taste.

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, turmeric, and cardamom.

Heat oil in a deep fryer, or heat at least 1 inch of oil in a deep skillet over high heat. Working in batches, dredge the squid in the flour, shake to remove excess flour, and add to the hot oil. Fry until golden and crispy, and drain on paper towels. Garnish with dried chiles and fried onions. The sauce can be either served on the side or poured over the fried squid.

Variation: This dish can be expanded upon by including vegetables. Typical Thai vegetables would include spring onions, tomatoes, cucumber, and bell peppers or mild chiles. If serving with vegetables, toss the vegetables in the hot sauce and serve with the squid on top.

From Where Flavor Was Born, by Andreas Viestad. Copyright (c) 2007 by Andreas Viestad. Published by Chronicle Books. Reprinted with permission.

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