I am back with another seafood recipe. This time it’s a popular one and loved by everyone. It is as tasty as it is hard to clean. Crabs!
The most difficult part in making crabs is to clean them. I did not learn it early in my life and the reason behind it is a very funny one. I remember when I was in first or second standard, I was coming home from school in the bus. Driver uncle was a dear friend of my dad. He saw him on his way home and offered a ride along with us. My father gladly hopped on. My dad has a friendly nature and he started chatting with my school mates. He asked them whether they wished to see what he has brought with him from the market. When almost everybody nodded positively, he simply opened his shopping bag and let loose all the live crabs in the moving bus. You can imagine the chaos after that. The school bus with children frightened of creatures smaller than them. But my dad was pretty quick to catch all the crabs and put it in the bag before the situation went out of control. And I guess that is the day that frightened me enough not to hold a live crab in hand. But frankly speaking, the delicious taste of this shell fish curry never allowed me to give up on it. I have always found it difficult to eat it with one hand. The joy of opening the shell with both the hands, licking all that flavorful curry from the shell and enjoying that tender flesh has been super difficult to ever give up in my life.
I was never introduced to soft shell crabs before coming to the US. But to make an Indian curry we need the hard shell ones. To make them easier to eat we can make a few hairline cracks in them with the help of mortar and pestle. My aunt gave me this idea when I learnt to make this curry.
- 4 crabs cleaned and cut into pieces (main body cut into halves and Cheliped separated)
- Swimming legs of above crabs (secret ingredient)
- 2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of dry shredded coconut
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 2 inches ginger
- 3 green chilies (optional)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust as per your spice level)
- 1 tablespoon any curry powder
- 1 tablespoon tamarind extract or tamarind pulp
- 3 tablespoon oil (separated in 2 & 1 tablespoon)
- Salt to taste
- The reason I mentioned crab’s swimming legs as secret ingredient is, it is going to add more seafood flavor to the Boil these legs in half cup of water for 15-20 minutes and let it cool. Then grind it well and strain the juice. Keep it aside.
- Now heat one tablespoon of oil in skillet and add thinly sliced onion to it. Once it becomes translucent, remove it and keep it aside.
- Now add shredded coconut in the same pan and roast till it turns golden brown.
- Grind onion, roasted coconut, garlic, ginger, chilies and cilantro to a fine paste. Add water if necessary. The mixture should be thick and not runny.
- Heat remaining two tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Once it is hot, add the above ground paste to it and mix well. Add turmeric, chili powder and curry powder. Sauté till oil starts separating from the mixture.
- Now add crabs and mix well. Make sure that the crabs get well coated in the spiced paste. Now add the strained juice of swimming legs, that we made earlier. Mix well. Keep a lid on the skillet and set the flame to medium. Make sure it doesn’t burn towards the bottom. Cook for 10 minutes approximately. You can then add water to adjust the consistency of the gravy. Let it cook for 10 more minutes.
- Add tamarind pulp and mix well. Cook for 5 more minutes and then turn off the flame.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.