Spiced calamari with fennel and smashed avocado

Spiced calamari with fennel and smashed avocado.
Spiced calamari with fennel and smashed avocado. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Though fennel is essentially a winter vegetable, this dish has quite a summery feel. I have no problem with a splash of sunshine in the cooler months.


1 small garlic clove

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

Salt flakes

3-4 ripe avocados, peeled and roughly chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

3 limes — 2 juiced, 1 cut in wedges to serve

¼ bunch coriander, roughly chopped, plus extra leaves to garnish

1 bulb fennel

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

1 green chilli, finely sliced

Oil for frying (I use olive oil)

600g small or medium-sized calamari, cleaned, scored and cut into strips

Spiced flour

100g plain flour

20g ground cumin

25g smoked paprika

25g ground coriander

35g ras el hanout

30g onion powder

20g garlic powder

2 tbsp salt flakes



1. Combine all the spiced flour ingredients until free of any lumps.

2. For the avocado, in a large mortar and pestle, grind the garlic and the spices with three good pinches of salt. Add the avocado and mash, then add plenty of pepper, the lime juice and the coriander. Stir and set aside.

3. Shave the fennel in fine slices lengthways (a mandolin is ideal for this) and dress with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil. Toss through with the chilli.

4. Heat about six centimetres of oil to 175 degrees in a large saucepan.

5. Spread the avocado on a serving plate. Top with the fennel and extra coriander leaves.

6. Dust the calamari in the spiced flour and fry in batches until golden. Serve on the fennel and avocado with lime wedges on the side.