Kalamar Tava Recipe (Turkish Fried Calamari)

Calamari rings served with lemon slices and a sauce in a small bowl on the side.

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Calamari rings are tenderized with baking soda, lemon and mineral water. They they are coated with cornmeal and fried. Super tender on the inside and crispy on the outside! 


  • 1 pound calamari rings (450g) or 3 large squids(cleaned) (read the note for frozen calamari)
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

  • Half lemon

  • 1 cup mineral water (sparkling)

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup vegetable oil for frying

  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish


  1. To tenderize the squid rings, sprinkle baking soda and squeeze lemon over them. Massage with your hand. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

  2. On a piece of baking paper or in a bowl, wish together the cornmeal and salt. 

  3. Remove each squid ring from the mineral water and dredge in the cornmeal. Repeat this until all the rings are coated.

  4. Heat 3 inches (7cm) of oil in a large pan to 350-375 degrees F. To test the oil, you can drop a pinch of cornmeal. If lots of bubbles form around it immediately, the oil is ready.

  5. Place some squid rings (8-10 pieces) into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden.

  6. Transfer the fried calamari rings from onto paper towels to remove excessive oil. 

  7. To keep the fried calamari batches warm, you can use the oven method. Preheat the oven 150 degrees F / 65 degrees C. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and put some paper towel on it. Transfer the fried batch of calamari rings onto this wire rack and put them in the oven. Keep them in the oven while frying the rest. 

  8. Sprinkle chopped parsley over them and serve with lemon wedges and your preferred sauce.


  1. Always completely thaw frozen squid before cooking calamari. Regardless of whether you are using whole squid or pre-sliced rings. Then, continue following our tenderizing steps.
  2. You have to soak the calamari rings and tentacles in mineral water. It makes a big difference and you will regret skipping it.
  3. You can substitute the mineral water with buttermilk if you’d like. And, if you have no buttermilk, use regular milk with some salt.
  4. Cornmeal makes the most crispy calamari rings. However, you can also use cake flour or all-purpose flour too for breading.
  5.  It’s important to ensure your oil is at 350-375°F (180-190°C). You can test the temperature using a thermometer or our cornmeal trick. Add a pinch of cornmeal to the hot oil. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is hot enough to fry in.
  6. Calamari rings may not be as crispy when shallow fried. So make sure there is enough oil in the pan to cover all parts of the rings.
  7. Don’t overcrowd the pan, this is very important for crispy calamari. Otherwise, the temperature of the hot oil will reduce and the squid rings won’t be fried properly.
  8. These fried squid rings have to be served immediately. Otherwise, they will lose their crispiness and go soggy.
  9. Although fried calamari tastes the best on the day it is made, there are ways to reheat it.
  10. To reheat on the stovetop, heat oil in a non-stick pan for shallow fry. When it is hot enough, place the calamari rings in the pan and let them heat for about a minute, flip them over and cook that side for 30 seconds or so. To reheat in the oven, preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C, arrange the rings on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until crispy. Avoid using a microwave to prevent sogginess.
  11. Quick Tartar Sauce: In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 cup Greek yogurt. Stir in 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of minced dill pickles. Grate 1 clove of garlic and add it to the mixture and mix well. Serve with your fried calamari (kalamar tava).