Crab curry

Crab curry

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

My brother-in-law has been telling me about his mother’s crab curry for years so, when I started to work on this recipe, I invited him over and we cooked together as we reminisced about our mothers’ food. This lovely curry is the product of that fun, disjointed Saturday afternoon. If the whole peppercorns and cloves bother you, strain the sauce to remove them before pouring it over the crab. This curry improves after sitting for a few hours, as the sauce seeps into the crab. I buy my crab fresh from my fishmonger who kindly cleans and cuts it up for me. I add about 4–5 tbsp of the brown meat for extra flavour, but you can add more or less, as you prefer.


Quantity Ingredient
2 x 750g whole raw crabs, cleaned and cut into pieces
7 tablespoons vegetable oil
20 fenugreek seeds
8 cloves
20 black peppercorns
15 fresh curry leaves
2-4 green chillies, whole but pierced
2 largish onions, chopped
10 large garlic cloves
4 small tomatoes, quartered
15g fresh root ginger, peeled weight
salt, to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 level teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1-1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste, or to taste
200ml coconut milk, (optional)


  1. Ask your fishmonger to clean the crabs, smash the claws slightly so you can get at the meat later, and to halve or quarter the bodies. He will also give you the brown meat separately, if you ask nicely.
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan or karahi. Add the fenugreek, cloves and peppercorns and, once the fenugreek has browned, the curry leaves.
  3. Tip in the green chillies and onions and cook until golden. Meanwhile, blend together the garlic, tomatoes, ginger and a good splash of water until smooth. Add to the pot with the salt, chilli, coriander, cumin and turmeric. Bring to a boil and simmer until the masala releases oil into the pan, then gently stir-fry for a further five to seven minutes to intensify the flavours.
  4. Add 800ml water and bring to a boil. Stir in the tamarind paste. Add the crab pieces and brown meat, bring back to a boil, cover and simmer over a moderate heat for about 15 minutes, until the crab is cooked. There should only be a little liquid left. Stir in the coconut milk (if using) and add a little boiled water if you think the dish needs more sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more tamarind to taste, then serve.
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