Tandoori Octopus with Yogurt, Cauliflower, and Grapefruit

Chef Ludo Lefebvre first made this Tandoori Octopus at his pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles, LudoBites. A customer favorite, this unusual combination of flavors comes together for a surprising but delicious dish. With deep, smoky flavor from an overnight marinade in tandoori paste and a quick few minutes on the grill, the octopus is tender throughout with a crisp exterior. Ask your fishmonger for whole octopus. Frozen is fine, too—simply defrost it in a bowl of room-temperature water. Recipe excerpted from the cookbook LudoBites by Ludo Lefebvre, pages 334-336, published by HarperCollins, 2012.

Active Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
Total Time:
8 hrs 45 mins



  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped

  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise

  • 3 thyme sprigs

  • 8 cups water

  • 4 cups dry white wine (such as Sancerre)

  • 1 (6- to 8-pounds) octopus, cleaned


  • 1 1/4 cups jarred tandoori paste (from one 11-ounce jar, such as Patak’s)

  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 tablespoon molasses

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/3 cup plain whole-milk goat yogurt 

  • 1/3 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

  • Kosher salt

Additional Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1 large pink grapefruit, segmented and cut into small cubes

  • 1/4 head cauliflower, cored, florets thinly sliced on a mandoline

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground white pepper

  • Fleur de sel


Make the octopus:

  1. Heat grapeseed oil in a 6-quart enameled cast-iron casserole over medium-high. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and thyme; cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 8 cups water and wine, and bring to a simmer. Add octopus; bring liquid to a near simmer, and reduce heat to low. If necessary, cover octopus with a plate so that it remains submerged. Simmer until a small knife glides easily through octopus arm, about 2 hours. (Do not allow water to boil or the skin will fall away; slow and gentle is the key.)

  2. Remove octopus from cooking liquid, and let cool; discard cooking liquid. Cut octopus legs away from head; discard head.

Make the marinade:

  1. Combine tandoori paste, tomato sauce, honey, molasses, and sherry vinegar in a large bowl. Add octopus legs; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or up to overnight.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce:

  1. Combine goat yogurt and Greek yogurt in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  2. Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron grill or skillet over high. Remove octopus legs from marinade, and lightly shake off excess marinade (The octopus should still be well coated). Add octopus legs to skillet; cook until almost black, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut each octopus leg into 3 pieces.

  3. Spoon about 1 tablespoon yogurt sauce into center of each of eight plates. Combine grapefruit and cauliflower in a bowl, and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Place about 1 tablespoon grapefruit mixture on top of yogurt sauce on each plate. Arrange 3 octopus leg pieces on each plate. Lightly drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel, and serve immediately.

    Chloe Crespi Photography
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