Curried crabs recipe

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This dish comes from Mangalore, on the southwest coast, an area renowned for its appreciation of both fish and coconuts. This succulent curry uses coconut milk plus freshly grated coconut for a wonderfully rich sauce.


  • 3-4 lbs (1½-2 kgs) fresh crabs
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds 30 curry leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 green finger-length chilies, halved lengthwise Pinch of asafoetida powder
  • 3 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon minced ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) thick coconut milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (20 g) freshly grated coconut (optional)
How to Make It
  1. Boil the crabs in a large pot of water for 2 to 3 minutes, drain, then cool. Remove the shell of each crab by holding the bottom of the crab in one hand and using the other hand to pull the shell up and off its body. Set aside the shell and discard the feathery gills on either side of the body and any green or spongy grey matter. Rinse and scrub the shell thoroughly, then drain. Quarter the crab and crack the claws so the flavors can penetrate.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok and stir-fry the mustard seeds until the seeds begin to pop. Add the curry leaves, bay leaves and green chilies and stir-fry gently for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the asafoetida and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry until the onion is transparent. Stir in the turmeric and red pepper and continue stirring for 1 minute before adding the crab pieces, claws, shells and tomatoes.
  3. Cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk and salt and bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Mix in the freshly grated coconut, if using, and serve with plain steamed rice.

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