Pasta with Spicy Clams


Hello from the sunny island of Singapore, land of the milo dinosaur and carrot cake that isn’t actually cake, or made from carrot even.

I’m here visiting my sister and her family and it’s been a great holiday so far. My day begins at 8 am when I drag myself out of bed, throw on pants and sleep walk to the café next door where the lady now knows enough to add extra condensed milk to my coffee without me having to ask. I then find a seat by a window and catch up on the current happenings in the world aka scroll through my Instagram feed. A few hundred pictures of avocado toast/ fluffy kittens later, I put my phone away and turn my attention to my fellow café-goers. I love that in this country, noodles are a perfectly acceptable breakfast option, and there’s always that one person sitting in a corner slurping away at a bowl of noodles and trying to look dignified doing it. But most people, I’ve noticed, prefer to start their day with soft-boiled eggs that they break into small plates and top with thick soy sauce.


All this is to say that with such a vibrant food scene to explore, cooking hasn’t really been on my agenda. Except for this clam pasta that I made two days ago following mum’s instructions.

My mother is prone to occasional bouts of genius, usually when she has unexpected guests and no biryani masala on hand. This pasta recipe was born of one such situation, and when she called the next morning to tell me about it, I knew I wanted to give it a try. Mum used orecchiette, which is a saucer-shaped pasta, and I decided to stick to that because as everyone knows, mothers know best. I’ll admit, it isn’t the most widely available pasta- we looked in a bunch of supermarkets around the city before finding it in the one right next to my sister’s apartment. If you can’t find it, use a pasta shape that has dents or crevices to hold the thick sauce.

For those of you cooking with clams for the first time, run the clams under the tap to clean the surface of the shells, and then soak them in salted water for an hour or two at which point the silt will have settled at the bottom of the vessel.

If you look through the ingredients you’ll realize that this is NOT an authentic Italian recipe, more like Italian by way of the Malabar. And if you ask me, it’s all the better for it. 

Orecchiette with Spicy Clams

serves 3


1 cup pasta

500 g clams

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium tomato, cut into wedges, 8-10 pieces

2 green chilies, slit

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp chilli powder, made into a paste with 3 tbsp water

½ cup reserved pasta water

¼ coconut milk

1 sprig curry leaf  

small bunch coriander, chopped finely

2 tbsp vegetable oi


Cook pasta according to instructions, drain and set aside pasta water.

Heat oil in a large pan.

Add onion and garlic and fry till lightly browned.

Add curry leaves, green chili and fry.

Add the tomatoes followed by chilli powder and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Mix well, add clams, pasta water and close pan.

Let cook for about 10 mins until the clams open.

Discard un-open clams and add coconut milk.

Bring to a boil and add the pasta.

Mix gently.

Add the coriander leaves, and serve immediately.