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Anjum Anand's coastal crab and coconut curry

Anjum Anand's coastal crab and coconut curry

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5 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

15 fresh or dried curry leaves

1 onion, finely chopped


40g (2 rounded tbsp) roughly chopped root ginger (peeled weight)

Cloves from ½ large head of garlic

400g (4 medium-large) tomatoes, blended until smooth

1/4–1/2 tsp chilli (chili) powder, or to taste

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3 tsp garam masala (fresh if possible)

80g (3/4 cup) fresh grated coconut (you can buy this frozen in Asian supermarkets as well as fresh in some supermarkets now), plus more to serve (optional)

2–3 green chillies (chiles), stalks removed, pierced with a knife

1 medium-sized crab, around 1.2kg cleaned, lightly broken up in places

2 tsp tamarind paste, or to taste handful of chopped coriander (optional), to serve


1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick karahi, wok or saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and, as they are popping, add the curry leaves and cook for another 10 seconds or so. Add the onion and a little salt and cook until it is soft and has a good golden brown colour on the edges, around 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make a paste in a blender of the ginger and garlic with some water. Add to the pan and cook for 1–2 minutes or so, or until the water has dried off and the garlic smells cooked.

3. Add the tomatoes, seasoning and powdered spices and cook until the masala releases oil into the pan, around 15 minutes, stirring often. Once it has released oil into the pan, stir-fry over a high heat to darken a little. This will deepen the flavour and colour.

4. Meanwhile, blend the coconut with some water until smooth. Once the tomatoes are done, add the coconut and chillies, bring back to the boil and add the crab. Cook for 2–3 minutes, then add enough water to come just halfway up the crab. Return to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Once the crab is done, add most of the tamarind, taste and adjust the seasoning and add more tamarind or chilli powder for more tang or heat respectively. There should be a lot of thick sauce; this is not a watery curry, you should be able to eat the creamy sauce with rice.

6. Serve sprinkled with coriander or coconut, or both.

Wine match: Aged Riesling, Marsanne, Semillon, Roussanne or Chardonnay

Recipes and images from I Love India by Anjum Anand (Hardie Grant, $39.99).

Preparation time
Cooking time