I learnt this recipe in Calabria, southern Italy, where I spent five years in the 1980s. I still remember catching an octopus as a young man and cooking it fresh for lunch. The squid ink pasta has a rich, briny flavour, to which the lemon breadcrumbs add another flavour profile.

  • Serves


  • Cook Time


    Including 2 hours to clean squid


For Squid Ink Pasta Dough

  • 250 gm refined flour
  • 10 gm semolina
  • 10 ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp squid ink
  • 2 large eggs

For Pasta Sauce

  • 150 ml white chicken stock
  • 100 gm cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50 gm butter
  • 25 gm anchovy, finely chopped with oil
  • 25 gm onion, chopped
  • 20 gm Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 20 gm capers, roughly chopped
  • 20 gm Kalamata olives, seeded and roughly broken
  • 15 gm parsley, chopped
  • 10 gm garlic, chopped
  • 5 gm tarragon leaves
  • 5 gm caster sugar
  • 50 ml tomato juice
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • 6-8 large basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper

For Squid

  • 250 gm squid & tentacles, cleaned
  • 10 gm tarragon
  • 5 gm garlic, chopped
  • 20 ml dry white wine
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

For Lemon Bread Crumbs

  • 50 gm panko
  • 10 gm Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 10 gm butter
  • 5 gm thyme, chopped
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


For Making Pasta Dough

  1. Mix flour, semolina, salt and olive oil in a bowl with both hands. Mound up the flour and make a well in the centre.
  2. In another bowl, break two eggs, add squid ink and whisk well.
  3. Toss the beaten egg and squid ink into flour well and slowly combine all the ingredients together, kneading them into a dough. The dough should be firm and pliable, with a slight springiness to the touch.
  4. You can add a few drops of water and continue to knead if the dough is too dry. Wrap it with plastic wrap and let it rest in refrigerator for two hours.

For Shaping Gemelli

  1. Divide pasta dough into four. Dust your work surface with flour and place the dough on it.
  2. Sprinkle flour on dough and gently flatten it with your hands. Next, with a rolling pin, roll it to about ⅛-inch thickness and roughly rectangular in shape. Dust off excess flour from work surface and rolled pasta dough.
  3. Cut dough lengthwise into ¼-inch wide strips. Roll out each ¼-inch strand into a long, round, spaghetti-like noodle about 2 mm thick. 
  4. Fold each strand onto itself, pinch two ends together and twist folded strands repeatedly like a screw, to form a double helix. Repeat double helix formation with each strand.
  5. Dust your work surface with semolina and lay each squid ink helical strip on it.
  6. Cut double helix strands into sections about 1½ inch long. These are called gemelli.
  7. Discard excess trimmings, place gemelli on a tray dusted with flour, and refrigerate till you are ready to cook.

For Cooking Pasta

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and toss in gemelli pasta.
  2. When almost done, they will start floating to the top. Cook for another five minutes, strain and add to sauce to be tossed together.

For Pasta Sauce

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan on low flame. Add garlic and onions, and sauté till translucent.
  2. Pop the cherry tomatoes and let them blister and cook till they soften.
  3. Pour chicken stock and tomato juice into the pan, raise flame to high, bring to a boil and then lower the flame.
  4. Toss in capers, olives and anchovies and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add the blanched pasta and cook for another 2-3 minutes, tossing it in the sauce.
  6. Take off flame, season with salt and pepper, add in sugar, and monté with butter and Parmesan cheese. Finish with herbs.

For Cleaning Squid

  1. Hold the body in one hand, the tentacles in the other, and pull apart. A gentle tug is enough. The intestines will come away with tentacles.
  2. Set aside body for further preparation.
  3. Cut tentacles from the head, just above the eyes on tentacle side.
  4. Still working on tentacles, find the mouth, which is in the centre of the base of tentacles, where they join the head. Squeeze out and discard mouth, including the bony beak.
  5. Cut off two long tentacles, then slice them into bite-sized pieces. If the rest of tentacles are very large, cut them into large bite-sized pieces. If small, leave whole.
  6. Rinse and set aside.
  7. Reach inside body cavity and feel for something firm against the side of body, which is the feather-shaped quill. Gently pull it out and discard.
  8. Pull away two fins on either side of body. Pull and peel away the brownish-pink skin covering body and fins.
  9. Rinse body in cold water and dry well.
  10. Place body on the board and turn it to find the natural line where quill was attached.
  11. Insert a sharp knife (a fish filleting knife is ideal) into the body and cut it open along this line. Scrape the inside of body carefully with the knife blade to remove membrane and any remaining innards.
  12. Rinse and dry well with kitchen paper. Using a sharp knife, score the inside of body in a diamond pattern.
  13. You need to score the flesh about one-third of way through, so use a light touch. Once scored, cut body into large bite-sized squares or rectangles (about 4-5 cm). Combine body pieces with tentacles, ready for cooking.

For Cooking Squid

  1. Heat some olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan and sauté chopped garlic and cleaned squid pieces and tentacles, for 2-3 minutes till done.
  2. Deglaze pan with white wine and finish with herbs and lemon juice.
  3. Check seasoning and adjust, if needed. Remove from heat, so as not to overcook the squid.

For Lemon Bread Crumbs

  1. Mix all the ingredients with soft butter in a mixing bowl, using both hands so that the butter is dispersed evenly throughout.
  2. Spread on a baking tray lined with aluminium foil and bake in an oven at around 90°C/200°F for 25-30 minutes or till breadcrumbs get crispy and turn light golden brown.

To Serve

  1. Divide squid ink gemelli, tossed with sauce, among four serving plates. Top with cooked squid and garnish with lemon bread crumbs. 
Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar

Rahul Akerkar, the chef-founder of Qualia in Mumbai, was Scroll Food’s Chef of the Month for June. He started his culinary journey 35 years ago in the US, returning to India in 1989. Since then, he has been busy changing the way we eat. Known for setting industry trends with his creative, ingredient-driven cuisine, and warm attentive hospitality, Rahul’s award-winning restaurants secured his position as one of India’s first successful, chef-restaurateurs. In his career, he has won many accolades – he was featured in Asiaweek’s Survey of “Kitchen Gods” in 2001 and was 28 on San Pellegrino’s List of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2013. More recently, he won Chef of The Year at the Times Food Awards 2016, Mumbai. He has been guest chef in several kitchens around the world, authored numerous articles, and frequently consults to the food and hospitality industry.

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