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  • Bute St Seafoodie

Clam Masala

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

The clam fishery is closed from the end of December to the end of May for sustainability reasons. Les informs me that their fishery achieved MSC (see link) certification last year. That means we now have seven months to enjoy eating clams with a totally clear conscience... before the next five months of abstinence.

This recipe never tires of impressing. It's a make-once-enjoy-often number in that once the masala is in a jam jar, you're only minutes away from a delicious dish.

I first knocked up this concoction perhaps 10 years ago. My notes indicate that it was inspired by a recipe of Rick Stein's, and there is a recipe along these lines in "Coast to Coast" (2008) pp. 152, but I haven't owned the book long enough for that to have been the source. There are also recipes of a similar theme in "Fish Indian Style" (2008) pp. 54 and in "The Essential Goa Cookbook" (2000) pp. 130.

Wherever the recipe came from, shellfish, coconut, vinegar and black pepper are ingredients that, when combined, shout of Goa and the Konkani coast. Some crusty baguette is a quite appropriate accompaniment.

Clam Masala (makes about 6 servings)


1½ tsp cumin seeds

1½ tsp coriander seeds

¾ tsp cloves (6-8)

8-10 black peppercorns

½ onion, coarsely chopped

1" ginger, coarsely chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped

2 tsp tamarind puree (less if very concentrated)

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 or more red or green chillies (or to taste)

120ml coconut cream


  1. Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and black peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until fragrant (about a minute). Transfer to a cold plate to cool.

  2. Put everything in a blender and blitz to a paste. Don't worry if the acid in the onions and the vinegar, and the heat of the blades causes the coconut cream to split - it will do so when the masala is cooked anyway.

  3. Transfer to a jar (ideally sterilised) and keep in the fridge ready to be used when required.

To make the dish:

  • Sunflower or vegetable oil

  • Clams, cleaned, 500g per person is a good quantity

  • 2 dsp masala per person (perhaps 6 dsp for 4 servings)

  • Lime

  • Coriander leaf, chopped

  1. Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan for which you have a lid.

  2. Cook the masala in the oil over a medium heat until the oil separates and floats to the top (2-3 minutes).

  3. Add the clams, raise the heat slightly and, once simmering, cover and cook for about 3 minutes until the clams have opened. Shake the pan once or twice during this time. The clams will release sufficient liquid to create a sauce.

  4. Sprinkle with some lime juice and garnish with the fresh coriander.


  • Rick Stein "Coast to Coast" (2008):

  • Atul Kochhar "Fish Indian Style" (2008):

  • Maria Teresa Menezes "The Essential Goa Cookbook" (2000):


  • Marine Stewardship Council:

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