If you ask me to name my favorite seafood, then it would be a toss up between prawns and crabs. I love both of them equally. Here in Austin, it is a tough ask to get hold of fresh prawns. My taste buds are so used to the fresh tiger prawns from our good old Kolkata fish market, the frozen and previously frozen prawns that I get here disappoints me every time.
Whenever I visit the local Vietnamese store, I would stop by the live crab section, trying to gather courage and convince myself that I can....I can handle these live clawed creatures in my kitchen. Since I never ever handled live crabs before and so spoiled by the fish mongers in kolkata fish market who cut and clean up fish/prawns/crabs for you, it took me a while to make up my mind and I am extremely glad that I did.
If you want to know how to dress and clean live crabs, click here, the way I did it.
After the dressing and time taking cleaning process, I was wondering what to prepare with these. My mother usually makes crab curries with bottle gourd (Lau-kankra), and that is my favorite. Since I did not have any bottle gourd, I opted for a famous Indian spice, the curry leaves. I made Kerala crab curry, flavored with curry leaves, with the rich, creamy texture of coconut milk. I made mine super hot as that's the way I like it. You can always adjust the heat quotient according to your choice.
Things needed to make Kerala crab curry:
- Blue Crabs: 4
- Onion (sliced): 1 cup
- Garlic (chopped): 1/2 tbsp
- Ginger (grated): 1/2tbsp
- Tomato: 1 large
- Green chilies (chopped): 2 (optional)
- Cumin seeds (crushed): 1 tsp
- Coriander seeds (crushed): 1 tsp
- Curry leaves: 10-12
- Dry red chilies: 5-6
- Whole garam masala: 1stick cinnamon, 2-3 cardamom, 3-4 cloves
- Star anise: 2
- Thick coconut milk: 1/4 cup
- Red chili powder: 2 tsp
- Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
- Garam masala powder: 1/2 tsp
- Palm jaggery/sugar: 1tbsp
- Salt to taste
- Mustard oil
How to make Kerala crab curry:
1. Smear salt and turmeric powder to the crab (body, legs and claws), set aside for 20-30 min.
2. Heat oil in a kadai or pan, fry the crab pieces for 2-3 min on high heat. Keep them aside.
3. Add more oil if needed in the same kadai or pan. When the oil is hot add the sliced onions. Cook till transparent. Add chopped garlic and cook for 1-2 min. Add grated ginger, mix well and cook for 2 min. Deseed the tomato, chop it. Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped green chilies (if you are using them). Add salt. Cover the pan and cook till tomatoes are done. Add crushed cumin and coriander seeds. Cook for few more minutes. Switch of the heat. Let it cool down. Transfer the masala to a food processor or a mixer grinder and make a smooth paste.
4. In a fresh pan add mustard oil, when the oil is hot add curry leaves, whole garam masala, star anise, dry red chilies. Cook on medium-high heat for 1-2 min. Add the freshly made paste. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3-4 min. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder (you can use kashmiri red chili powder, if you want the dish to be less hot), and the palm jaggery (you substitute that with plain sugar), cook for 2-3 min. Add the fried crabs, cover and cook on low-medium heat for 5 min. Add coconut milk, mix well.
Check the seasoning, adjust accordingly. Cover and cook on low-medium heat for another 5 min. Switch off heat. Sprinkle garam masala powder, immediately cover the pan and let it stand for 5-6 min. Serve hot with steamed rice.