Kerala Crab Masala

Cyrus Todiwala & Café Spice Namasté

“I find that the sweetness of crab is best suited to this delicate Keralan recipe. Crab is popular all along India’s very vast coastline and crab dishes come in a million different styles and preparations. This is one of my very favourites. Brown crab works really well in this recipe too. You can often buy the best quality
crab meat – both white and brown meat (or mixed if you so desire) picked and ready packed in tubs."


Serves 4

300–400g/10–14oz white crab meat
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
2½cm/1in root ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
6–8 fresh curry leaves, finely shredded
2 slender green chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 dried red chilli soaked in water for 10 minutes and finely shredded
2–3 small shallots, finely chopped
150–200g/5½–7oz, fresh coconut, grated
1 heaped tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 small plum tomatoes, drained and finely diced
2 tbsp chopped coriander


1 Check the crab meat to ensure that there are no hidden pieces of shell or cartilage in the meat.

2 Pour the oil into a wok or frying pan and heat until it forms a haze. Add a couple of mustard seeds to check to see if they crackle immediately. If the oil is ready, add all the mustard seeds and cover the pan with a lid for a few moments to prevent the seeds from flying all over the place and hitting your face.

3 As soon as the crackling dies down and you can smell a roasted aroma, add the ginger, garlic, curry leaves and the green and red chillies.

4 As soon as the garlic turns golden but not deep in colour, add the shallots and sauté them until soft. Add the grated coconut and sauté for 3–4 minutes. Then add the red chilli powder and turmeric.

5 Sauté for about 30 seconds then add the crab meat, tossing well for about a minute. Add the tomato and coriander and check the seasoning, adding salt if needed.

6 Serve with some plain Goan Or Keralan style coconut curry and rice or some steamed rice dumplings or as a filling for thick savoury Indian pancakes.