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Curried Crab with Coconut and Chili

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 5 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 2 hr
  • Cook: 35 min
  • Yield: 2 servings
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2 1/4 pounds live crab

1/4 cup coriander seeds

1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

Sea salt

5 1/2 ounces white wine vinegar

2 ounces desiccated coconut

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

5 garlic cloves

1 large green chile, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium ripe tomato, diced

10 fresh curry leaves

1/2 ounce fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated

1 tablespoon chile powder

9 ounces unsweetened coconut milk


  1. Place the crab in the freezer for 2 hours or until it stops moving. Remove the legs and crack them with a rolling pin. Remove the top of the shell and clean out the insides with your fingers. Chop the crab and top shells in half.
  2. Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns and stir constantly until the seeds become toasted and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. To make the paste, grind the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns with a pinch of salt using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Transfer the spice mixture to a food processor and add the vinegar, coconut, ginger, garlic, chile and onions and blend to form a paste.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy, large, wide pot over low heat. Add the paste and saute until fragrant and some of the juices evaporate, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato, curry leaves, turmeric, chili powder and a pinch of salt and cook until the tomato pieces are tender and melting into the sauce, 5 minutes. Add the crab and 4 1/2 ounces water, increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer or until the crab pieces are cooked through, 10 minutes. Mix in the coconut milk and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  5. Divide the crab pieces and sauce among shallow wide soup plates and serve immediately.
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