Sri Lankan crab curry
- August 2004
- Serves 4
- Hands on time 40 mins, plus crab preparation
This rich crab curry is one of the triumphs of Sri Lankan cuisine. In Sri Lanka, this dish would be accompanied by a large mound of rice, plus 1 or 2 vegetable dishes and pickles.
For a lighter way to showcase crab, try this herb and chilli crab salad.
- Dairy-free recipes
- 30.7g (15.7g saturated)
- 9g (6.1g sugars)
- 2 whole large cooked brown crabs
- 3 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick or ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 red chillies, chopped
- 400ml can coconut milk
- Juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges to serve (optional)
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- 3-4 curry leaves or a bay leaf
- Remove the crabs’ claws. Leave them whole and set them aside. Pick the crabs (see our how-to video below), mixing the remaining white and brown meat, and keep chilled in the fridge until you need it.
- Heat a small frying pan or skillet and dry-roast the cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, so that you unlock their flavour. This only takes a minute or so, and you will smell it happening. Remove the spices from the heat and set aside.
- In a pan or pot large enough for everything, heat the vegetable oil and fry the garlic, onions and chillies. If you don’t like your food particularly hot (Sri Lankans do) remove the chilli seeds, or just use 1 chilli. Allow to cook quite briskly; it doesn’t matter if the onions catch a little in the pan. Add the coconut milk to the curry, then fill the can with water and add to the pan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes over a medium heat.
- Combine the mixed crabmeat with the lime juice and mustard powder and add to the curry with the intact claws, spices and the curry leaves or bay leaf. Heat through and stir gently. Check the seasoning and serve with a crab claw, garnished with lime, if you like.
Crab and chillies are made for each other. Sri Lankans are very proud of the crabs caught off their coast and this curry is a national dish. Traditionally, the crabs would be simmered in their shells but this version is easier to make at home. Leaving the claws intact still gives diners the pleasure of attacking some of the meal with nutcrackers or you can use the end of a rolling pin.
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