To make the spice mix, grind the mustard, celery, cumin, dill seeds, and bay leaves in an electric spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder. Place the freshly ground spices in a large bowl and mix in the paprika, chile powder, red chile flakes, and thyme. Add the fresh herb sprigs to the bowl.
Put some water and a steamer insert in the bottom of a very large pot. Add the crabs, sprinkling the spice mix and the herb sprigs between the crabs as you layer them in the pot. Put the lid on, bring the water to a boil, and steam until the crabs are cooked, about 20 minutes. The crabs should be a bright red. Remove the crabs from the pot, serve hot, and pass around crab crackers or hammers.
Recipe courtesy of Tom Douglas