Crab Curry
Indian Recipe

Although crab curry seems exotic and complex, it’s actually an easy dish that comes together in under an hour. Add a big pot of fluffy basmati rice and you’re done!


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3 tablespoons ghee* or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 Dungeness crabs, cut in pieces (leave meat in shells)
1 medium onion, minced
1 2 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated or ground
1 tablespoon tamarind paste*
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2/3 cup tomato puree**
~ water for thinning gravy
1 14-ounce can coconut milk, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8–10 sprigs cilantro, chopped, for garnish
2 limes, cut into wedges, as accompaniment
*Ghee is available in Indian grocery stores, or online.**Find Tamarind paste sold in jars at Indian grocery stores, or online.***Traditional cooks would make their own puree by seeding and grinding fresh tomatoes – but canned puree is a fine substitute. 
  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook for 1 minute. Adjust the heat to prevent burning.
  3. Add the crab and coat with the seasoned fat.
  4. Add the onion and ginger. Mix well then cook 2–3 minutes until softened.
  5. Combine the tamarind paste and water in a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Add the coriander, cumin, and chili powder to the pot. Mix well.
  7. Stir in the tomato puree.
  8. Stir in the softened tamarind and mix well.
  9. Add ¾ cup of the coconut milk and mix well. Cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining coconut milk, ¼ cup at a time, mixing well and cooking briefly after each addition.
  10. Add the water as needed, a bit at a time, to reach the desired consistency. (Do not add more than ½ cup additional water.)Note: Adding the liquids in small amounts is key to developing the rich flavor of this gravy. Do not pour everything in all at once, or you risk compromising the finished dish.
  11. Add the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  12. Set the heat to low and let the crab curry sit at a bare simmer for 15 minutes before serving.
Preparation Time: 
about 45 minutes