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Squid Curry Recipe (Indian Gulai Sotong Recipe)

Squid Curry (Gulai Sotong)

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My parents are huge fans of nasi kandar–a type of Mamak/Indian-Muslim food consists of steamed rice with a variety of curries and other side dishes. (Click here and here for a peek of a nasi kandar restaurant and its many colorful dishes.)

When I was little, my parents would always take me to nasi kandar restaurants. I remember vividly their old joint in Georgetown, Penang. Whenever I go home to Penang, I would take my parents out to savor a meal or two of nasi kandar at their favorite restaurant/stall. Regardless of where we go, there is one dish that we never miss out–gulai sotong, or squid curry. So, it’s no surprise that my mother makes a killer squid curry at home (which I’ve fortunately learned).

There are two secret ingredients of a great squid curry: curry leaves and a blended spice mix of cumin, fennel, black mustard, fenugreek seeds. Curry leaves impart a highly aromatic flavor to the curry and the spice seeds add that signature and unmistakable Indian curry kick. I love hard-boiled eggs in curries, so I also added some eggs. Click here to see the real squid curry served in Penang…

Malaysia celebrates its 50th Independence Day (Hari Merdeka) on August 31st. Hence this post also marks my entry to this year’s virtual Merdeka Open House hosted by Babe_KL. Please click here to view my Kerabu Bee Hoon entry last year.


Special notes to my fellow Malaysians:

I used to take Malaysia for granted, well, when I was in Malaysia. There were always something to complain about–the educational system, the urban planning, the environment, media, government, and the list goes on.

Recently, I was in a meeting with a Taiwanese business partner. She told me in great enthusiasm that she just came back visiting Malaysian Borneo of Sabah and Sarawak. She used to work in Singapore for 8 years and it was very clear that she adores Malaysia.

“Malaysians should be really proud of their country.” She said.

Her statement made me ponder. If a foreigner can love Malaysia so much, why can’t we?

“I am very proud of my country. It has so much to offer!” I replied.

I do love Malaysia–as a matter of fact–a lot.

Selamat Hari Merdeka!


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57 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Mandy

    I am so glad to hear of your business partner pleasant experience in Sabah and Sarawak, because I am from Sabah. hehehe.

  2. tigerfish

    Woo…Baba’s fish curry powder…I remember MW told me good things about Baba’s chicken curry powder too. Everytime I go to any Asian store here, I will look for it but so far…no luck :(

    I used to complain a lot back in S’pore too but after I came here, I am more appreciative. Now I complain about the US of A :O

    I wonder how the term “blur as sotong” came from. This dish is so sedap!

  3. Anonymous

    hi, really love your blog. this is like everyday thing. viewed your blog everyday in the morning. is like part of the things to do. pls tell me how can i get the curry leaves? should i get the dried basil? is that the same? or any frozen from the supermarket? i am currently at new jersey. close to new york. regarding the spices….can i get it at the regular supermarket? thank you…so much.

  4. The Cooking Ninja

    I’m so going to cook this one for sure. Hmm…got to check what is fenugreek in French.

    I’m proud to be a Singaporean even though I bitch about the education system etc. :)


    hi rasa :

    I am first time leave comment here ,I look at all your post even the old post. you are a great cook your disher not only look good it wel present too .
    I love you blog
    weldone xxxxx

  6. PrincessJournals

    im no fan of curry nor nasi kandar but kari sotong and telur … best!
    Selamat Hari Merdeka to u both too.

  7. khunying

    Wow! Looks really good. Today my neighbor went to the Pike market in Seattle, WA. It is a fish market. She asked me what I need. I told her to get me some squid. She asked me how much. I did not really tell her how much instead I form my two hands and said this much. She came back with 1 squid. I looked at her and she looked and me. Both of us were just laughing so hard. Oh! Well I have to wait to try this dish. But it just looks sooooo good.

  8. lucia

    my mum hardly cook gulai sotong but she always cook sotong with er… some kind of dark sauce. BUT i always take gulai sotong when i’m in a nasi kandar stall! oh and i love the sotong egg too in nasi kandar stall.

  9. Anonymous

    really love your picture. looks so yummy. can i use the baba meat curry powder instead? thats all i got. what can i get the spices? can i cook without the spices? thank you!

  10. Chubbypanda

    I was so stoked when I saw both curry leaves and kaffir lime leaves in the larger of the two Irvine 99 Ranch Markets. Bliss!

  11. Rasa Malaysia

    Ming – Thank you. :)

    Mandy – I have yet to go to Sabah, I wanted to go so much!

    Tiga – next time you go back, smuggle some back, maybe Singapore has it?

    Snoopy – you are funny. LOL.

    Elmo – yeah I think so. :)

    Cynthia – I love squid too but I hate to clean them…so I don’t make them as much at home. ;)

    Anonymous – thanks for your nice comment. I am not familiar with NY, but try finding curry leaves at Indian food stores. For the spices, you can get them from the Indian stores too. If they don’t have the pre-blended ones, you can buy the seeds separately and mix them yourself. :)

    Yoyo’s Food – yes, I am a Chinese, but I was born and raised in Malaysia. Now I am in the USA.

    Piggy – you are a great cook yourself and I drool over your dishes too. LOL.

    Budding Cook – the curries in Malaysia taste different from the Indian curry we get here, but they are good.

    The Cooking Ninja – LOL. I don’t know what Fenugreek seed is called in English at first and

    Pearly – thanks for your sweet comment. You’re too nice. :)

    Princess – I like only a few kind of curries myself. But give me hard-boiled eggs or any sotong in curry, I will be in heaven. :)

    Khunying – your comment really cracked me up…that’s really too funny. Too bad you didn’t get many squid, as Pike’s place market has the freshest to offer…next time. ;)

    Lucia – those sotong eggs are saturated with cholesterol, but never mind, eat first is more important. LOL.

    Little corner of mine – yeah, the use of chili oil gives the curry that reddish curry instead of just yellow. Very sedap indeed. :)

    Anonymous – if you don’t have the fish ones, meat powder will work as well. Instead of using salt to flavor your curry, you can use fish sauce. Try it and let me know how it goes…;)

    CP – Oh really? OMG, I haven’t seen curry leaves in R99 for a long time now…mine was given to me by a friend who owns a restaurant. Gotta stock them up…the smell of the curry leaves are so “addictive” don’t you think? I can just sniff them all day long….wahhahaha.

    Unka – Time to start using hankerchief…buddy. :P

  12. c

    Love your food blog – keep it up!

    PS – A difference is your friend went to Borneo. Tht is something to be proud of yes. Borneo is very different from the Peninsular as you can imagine. Borneo is still pristine,laid back and still very green.. for now..

  13. christine

    I’ve never had squid curry so thank you for sharing this recipe you’ve learned from your mom. Needless to say, it looks scrumptious!

    You know I feel the same way about the Philippines. Before I left to live away for a while, I took a lot of things here for granted. It was only while being away and speaking with foreigners who visit my home country that I realize I needed to explore and appreciate my own backyard more. And I try to. It’s nice to be reminded though. :)

  14. christine

    BTW, echoing your Taiwanese business partner, you must be real proud of Malaysia! I spent a nice long weekend in Sabah and came home raving about it. You have such a beautiful country. And don’t even get me started on your diverse and captivating cuisine!

  15. babe_kl

    thanks dear for such a lovely entry. now this is the kind of writeup i’m looking for, a great recipe with some childhood story to it. perfect for this year’s theme – Muhibbah!

    Selamat Hari Merdeka!

  16. joey

    Happy Independence Day! :) That curry looks amazing…have had different curries but never squid…must try that one day! Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

  17. Rasa Malaysia

    C – thanks for your comment. I have never been to Borneo myself. Really want to go there, maybe the next time I head home to Malaysia.

    Meiyen – hehe. ;)

    Christine – squid curry is good. It’s very popular in Malaysia. Yeah, we need to learn not to take things for granted. By the way, which part of Sabah did you go. I think there are many places to explore in Sabah. ;)

    Babe – thanks for your comment and thanks for organizing the virtual merdeka open house again. It was fun making the dish.

    Joey – thanks. Squid curry is good, you should try. I love it. :)

    Andaliman – Hehe…thanks. Is there a similar dish in Indonesian cuisine? I need to learn more about Indonesian cuisine…

  18. christine

    Just to Kota Kinabalu. I’ve written some posts about it which you can find under “Index” on my page. :) We had a great time at the markets, the ATV Safari, the canopy walk at Kinabalu Park, and the beautiful beach at Rasa Ria.

  19. Andaliman

    I was thinking this gulai sotong is similar to Acehnese culinary in Indonesia. Acehnese culinary had influenced from Indian which uses variety of spices.

    One of my favourites is Cumi teutumeh. Don’t ask me what teutumeh is meant, Cumi means sotong. It uses some kinds of spices and some characteristics of Acehnese cuisine are belimbing sayur/wuluh or bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi) and asam sunti (dried bilimbi)

  20. WokandSpoon

    I’ve just come back from a quick stopover in Malaysia and have also been reminded that it is a great country! And i’m not just talking about the food ;-)

  21. IronEaters

    the curry looks wonderful! n we do complain about the list you mentioned, isnt it? lol. but still always will miss the food and our family back home =)

    selamat hari merdeka!

  22. Pnut

    instead of using baba’s fish curry powder, u can try ADABI Ketam/ikan kering curry powder-the taste so yummy…

  23. veron

    Bee – this is one great looking squid curry! And advance Happy Malaysian Independence day! Speaking of which, I read your comment over at Christine’s blog, Ramblings of a Gypsy Soul that you are going home to Malaysia? Can you bring back some packets of bak-kut-teh mix to sell, pretty please? I’ll be your first customer! I tried looking for some in my local Asian supermarts but they do not know what it is :(.

  24. Anonymous

    Yup am a Malaysian who recently landed to London. I miss all the Malaysian food after browsing this site! You did a good job fren ;P

  25. Anonymous

    I too love Malaysia eventhough I’m true blue S’porean but all that has been changed lately. All that because of the crimes rates that getting higher and higher in Malaysia from few years back. I still do like Malaysia but not so much now and I always shudder just to think of getting into JB. No more shopping spree in JB and thank goodness that I managed to sell my lovely terrace house in the lovely neighbourhood which is still laden with crimes and most importantly I can now sleep in peace eventhough in small and peaceful HDB flat in S’pore.

  26. Evan

    hi, i found your website on googles, I’m interested in ur recipe and i wanna have a try on this Gulai Sotong, but i’m not sure how to get the spice mixes and also what kind of chilli oil shall i use? would you enlighten me please? thanks

  27. Rasa Malaysia

    For the spice mixes, you can get them from Indian stores, just tell them you need Indian 5-spice mix, or you can get the spices invididually. I listed the names of the spices. For the chili oil, you can also get them from the store…any chili oil is fine…it’s more for coloring purposes.

  28. Evan

    Hi thanks for ur feedback, however my area does not have any indian stores, can i find them at hypermarkets such as Carrefour or Jusco in Malaysia?

  29. Anonymous

    i have a whole heap of them lying in my pantry from my last trip back, but havent got around to using it. Good ol babas. A1 curry mix not bad as well.
    thanks for the recipe!

  30. Galan-gal

    I made your curry, but I thought 4 tablespoons of curry powder seemed a lot. I don’t have access to Baba’s in the UK so I bought another fish curry powder.

    It was really strong! I like my spicy food, but this was a bit too intense…perhaps Baba’s is not as strong?!

    Anyway, your site is great; keep up the good work.

  31. Derrick Koh

    Love your recipes and great photos – definitely cookbook worthy! I am going to try the squid curry recipe and a really wicked Rice Cooker Chicken Rice method (Hainanese Chicken Rice – w/o having to fry the grains in chicken fat or separate pot to boil the fowl) tmr for my family and baking for the first time – wish this virgin-baker luck!

    Keep up the great site – you’re really inspiring me to cook more often again! I got homebrewed beer and fresh-made thin crust pizza on my to-do again this year for Xmas!

  32. Anonymous

    This recipe is amazing! I’m returning to California after a long visit in Singapore and thought it will be next to impossible to have delicious sotong curry again.

    Recently I tried sotong at a nasi padang stall that was cooked in black gravy which I’d assumed was dark soy sauce. When I complemented the proprietor/chef and inquired she surprised me by saying it was actually squid ink! Googled for it, but couldn’t get results. Do you happen to know the receipe?

    I enjoy all your blogs and the terrific pictures alongside easy to follow write up makes your site a delight. Thanks!

  33. TESS

    Thank you, this curry is soooo delicious.The only comment is that my sauce was thicker then in your picture, and I boiled it for 7 minutes.But…Next time, wont do it so long.Thanks a lot.Lovely

  34. Sal

    Why can’t we love Malaysia? It’s really easy to love from abroad – when you can actually call yourself Malaysian as opposed to Malay, Chinese or Indian, where the racist policies are but a distant memory and where you only remember what you want to – the food.

  35. Rebecca

    Bee, I think it is better to fry all spices well before we add in the sotong as Curry powder needs to fry well until red oil comes out then you may add in the sotong. Dish up after fried for 1 min and then add in the tomato and fry for awhile and then simmer for 10 mins to remove all the raw smell of the curry powder. Chef Wan taught us to mix the curry powder or chilli powder to a paste and let it stand for 20 mins before cooking so that the powder is fully activate before we fry it. I never fry the seafood if cooking curry, but I will try your way, may be it tastes much better. Thanks for sharing and too many young ladies can’t cook until they go to overseas and forced to cook and you’re their Life saver !! Keep up the good job.

    • SSP

      I agree…as a Malaysian-Indian, we always fry the spices and curry powder first. My mom swears this will extract the flavor better and that this is the best way too cook the powder fully. We also fry the onions with garlic and ginger (ground up in mortar and pestle). It takes away the ‘fishiness’ smell/flavor :)

  36. Theresa

    Hello, I’m making the curry squid tomorrow. Do I leave the boiled eggs whole and put in the stew or slice them?

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