A simple yet fabulous adaptation of a popular crab dish from Kerala.
Here is a simple adaptation of a great crab dish from Kerala. It tastes fabulous, but you can add some cumin seeds, white lentils, and asafoetida if you want to ring the changes. Brown mustard seeds can be used instead of black, but note that the flavour will be different. Serve with rice and/or a plain Goan or Keralan-style coconut curry, some steamed rice dumplings or thick savoury pancakes. Alternatively, eat with bread, tortillas or rolls with some salad.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
• 300-400 g white crabmeat
• 2 tbsps extra virgin rapeseed oil
• 2 tsps black mustard seeds
• 1 inch fresh root ginger piece, peeled and chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 6–8 curry leaves, preferably fresh, finely shredded; if using dried, soak in water for 10–12 minutes, and dry thoroughly before shredding
• 2 fresh green chillies, chopped
• 1 dried red chilli, soaked in hot water for 8–10 minutes, then chopped
• 2–3 small shallots, finely chopped
• 150-200 g freshly grated coconut or 3 tbsps desiccated coconut soaked in enough warm water to just cover for 30 minutes
• 1 tsp red chilli powder
• ½ tsp ground turmeric
• 2 small plum-type tomatoes, chopped and seeds/juice saved for another recipe
• 2 tbsps chopped fresh coriander
• Salt (optional)
Pick over the crabmeat to remove any hidden bits of shell or cartilage. Prepare and set out all the other ingredients.
In a wok or kadhai, heat the oil until it forms a haze. Test by adding a couple of mustard seeds: if they crackle immediately, the oil is hot enough.
Lower the heat slightly, add the mustard seeds and cover with a lid while they crackle to prevent them from flying off all over the place. As soon as the crackling stops and the seeds smell aromatic, add the ginger, garlic, curry leaves, and the green and red chillies.
Stir until the garlic turns pale, then add the shallots and continue to sauté until they soften.
Mix in the coconut and sauté for three to four minutes, then add the chilli powder and turmeric. Sauté for about 30 seconds, then add the crabmeat, tossing well for about one minute.
Add the tomatoes and fresh coriander. Taste and add salt if necessary, then serve immediately.
About the Chef
From ‘chef of genius’ to ‘creator of the classiest curries in the City’ and in 2014 ‘BBC Food Personality of the Year,’ this Mumbai-born Parsee chef has been called all manner of good things, but the Chef Patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, Mr Todiwalaʹs Kitchen, Assado, and The Park Café in Victoria Park East still has his feet very much on the ground...running.
Cyrus is the author of five books: International Cuisine: India, Cafe Spice Namaste: New Wave Indian Cuisine, Indian Summer, as well as The Incredible Spice Men with Tony Singh, which was nominated for a 2013 Specsavers National Book Award, and Mr Todiwala’s Bombay: Recipes and Memories from India, published by Hardie Grant and nominated for a 2013 World Food Awards Cookbook of the Year.
Photos Courtesy of Cyrus Todiwala, Jay Rowden