Jon Lewin

SRI LANKAN CRAB CURRY

Jon Lewin
SRI LANKAN CRAB CURRY

INGREDIENTS

4 medium sized crabs                                                           

1½ tsp curry powder                                              

1½ level tsp chilli powder                                        

1½ tsp turmeric powder                                          

1 tsp English mustard   

3 tbsp coconut oil                                                   

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds                                                       

6 cloves of garlic (sliced)                                       

4 fresh green chillies 

(roughly chopped)                                                                       

4 sprigs fresh curry leaves                                                            

2 red onions, 

(finely chopped)                                                                               

2 cardamom pods                                                                    

1 tsp roasted fenugreek 

seeds(crushed)                                                     

1 cinnamon stick                                                                     

200ml water

2 fresh tomatoes  (diced)                                                                          

½ x 400g tin of 

chopped tomatoes    

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper                                               

1 x 400ml tin of 

coconut milk 

a handful of fresh coriander

METHOD

As far as I know, the most humane and painless way to kill crabs is to freeze them for at least 2 hours before use. Once frozen, place in cool water to defrost (around 25 minutes). Once defrosted, they need to be cleaned and quartered ready for cooking.

Place the crabs on a chopping board or kitchen surface belly side up. Pull off the triangular-shaped belly flaps. Next, turn them over and remove the shell by inserting your thumb between the body and the shell at the rear of each crab and pulling its shell upwards. Inside you will see the spongy gills – they look a bit like withered fingers. These are not for eating and need to be removed. Wash the crabs thoroughly under running water then, using a heavy knife or cleaver, cut in half lengthwise and then into quarters. You are now ready to start cooking.

Take a large mixing bowl and place your quartered crabs inside. Add 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and all the mustard. Mix together thoroughly by hand, ensuring that all parts of the crabs are evenly coated.

Place a large saucepan on a medium heat and add the coconut oil. Once sizzling, first add the mustard and cumin seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to pop throw in the garlic, chillies, curry leaves and onions and fry for 2-3 minutes. Then cardamom pods and roasted fenugreek seeds together with the cinnamon stick. Stir constantly until it turns into a paste. Add the crab quarters to the pot and stir until they are evenly coated in the paste. There should be some spice mix left in the mixing bowl used for the crabs: add 200ml of water to this and stir together, making sure all spices are combined with the water, then add to the pot. Finally add both the fresh and tinned tomatoes.

Now add the salt and pepper, turn to a medium to high heat and cover. Check regularly and, when the stock has reduced by half, add the coconut milk. Cover again, and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the oil starts to separate, then take off the heat. 

At this point, you can drain the sauce and blend in a food processor – I find it helps the flavours to infuse and gives the sauce more depth.

Season to taste and finish with a handful of coriander.

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