Mangalore Crab Curry

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

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

Cooking Methodsauteeing


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Moodadventurous, festive

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)


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.



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Best Recipe. I loved it. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe with us. Buy Online Spices online at


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