Mangalore Crab Curry
Published by Robert Rose
Mangalore, a city on the Konkan coast on the west coast of India, is renowned for its distinctive cuisine. The area is populated by distinct communities, each with its well-recognized specialties. Meat, poultry and seafood are all relished and cooked with quantities of coconut and spices. Kokum is a popular ingredient.
Kokum (Garcinia indica) is the soft leathery skin of a deep purple, sour tropical fruit grown and used on the west coast of India. If unavailable, substitute 2 tbsp (25 mL) unsalted Thai tamarind purée.
Serves6 to 8
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturerich, savory, spiced, sweet
- 2 cups (500 mL) grated coconut, fresh or frozen, thawed
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp (22 mL) cumin seeds
- 24 dried Indian red chiles, broken in half, 12 with seeds removed
- 10 green cardamom pods, cracked open
- 1 stick cinnamon, about 2 inches (5 cm) long
- 24 cloves garlic
- 70 fresh curry leaves, divided (about 6 sprigs)
- 1¼ tsp (6 mL) turmeric
- ¼ cup (50 mL) oil
- 4 lbs (2 kg) dressed crabs or 3 to 3½ lbs (1.5 to 1.75 kg) crab claws
- 2 cans (each 14 oz/400 mL) coconut milk
- 1½ tsp (7ml) salt
- 20 kokum (Notes)
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast coconut in a single layer, stirring constantly, until golden and aromatic, 5 to 6 minutes. Watch it carefully, as coconut can burn easily. Transfer to a bowl.
In the same skillet, toast separately coriander, cumin, chiles, cardamom and cinnamon in that order until each is fragrant. The time will vary from a few seconds to up to 2 minutes. Take care not to burn. Add each to bowl with coconut.
Transfer coconut and spices to a blender and grind to a fine powder. Add garlic, 30 curry leaves and turmeric. Pour in ½ cup (125 mL) water and blend. Continue to add more water as needed, to make a smooth thick paste, scraping down sides of blender occasionally.
In a wide-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add coconut paste and remaining curry leaves. Sauté, stirring continuously, until masala (mixture) turns a few shades darker and aromatic, 5 to 6 minutes. If necessary, deglaze pan with 1 tbsp (15 mL) water periodically while sautéing to prevent burning. Add crab and mix well. Sauté until crab is well seasoned with masala, 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour coconut milk into pan. Add salt and kokum. Shake pan to settle crab. Cover and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring periodically, until gravy is thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve hot over rice or with South Indian Rice and Lentil Crêpes.
2007 Suneeta Vaswani