We all love and enjoy eating crab as a family as it is an experience in itself. My kids crave for it and they ask me to make it whenever they visit us. I have been making this crab dish for decades now and it has become our family tradition to even feed it to our guests some times coz we love and enjoy it so much. Many a beautiful memories have been linked with it. This Crab masala is no doubt a mouth watering dish which leaves you craving for more. It is a south indian style crab masala dish. The spices and all the other ingredients are roasted to bring out their flavour which is what makes this dish so supreme in taste and lip smackingly yummilicious!
It is important to note that dead crabs should not be consumed. Once they die their meat starts to decompose “its mid-gut gland (the source of food digestion enzymes) is soon attacked and damaged by those same enzymes, and then the enzymes spread out into the muscle tissue, breaking it down into mush”. Crabs whether big or small should always be bought live and they are best enjoyed when they are cooked as soon as they are killed.
I buy live dungeness crabs from the fish store on the same day that I am going to cook them. Their big front claws are tied up so they cannot bite you when you are handling them. My husband helps me by doing the killing and cutting part (kills them, removes their shell,tail etc) before I take over, coz I freak out. I don’t like to throw them in boiling water as all their juices get lost and they don’t taste that good. Adding spices to an already cooked crab doesn’t do anything to the dish as all its flavourful juices are lost in the boiling water.
Some people like to put them in the freezer for 10 – 15 mins just to make them lethargic before killing them while there are others who tap hard on its shell to make it unconscious so the crab doesn’t get at you when you are removing its shell.
2 big size Dungeness Crabs
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 Cup Water2 tsp Lemon Juice
Salt as per taste
For the Dry Masala
2 tbs Coriander Seeds
2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
2 tsp Poppy (white) Seeds
1 tsp Black Pepper
6-8 Green Cardamoms
2″stick Dark Cinnamon
For the Wet Masala
1 Cup Fresh Coconut sliced
4-6 Long Dried Red Chillies
1/4 Cup Curry leaves
1 Large Onion
6 medium sized Garlic Cloves
2 medium Tomatoes
4-6 Green Chillies
1/2 Cup Cilantro
1.Remove the shell from the crab, cut the legs at the joints, scrape the tiny hair on either side of the crab legs, remove the gills, mucous, clean well, rinse and set aside.
2. Pound the legs a bit or slit them with a knife carefully. This is done to make the masala seep inside when it is being cooked which makes the meat flavourful and juicy.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pot. Add mustard seeds, when they crackle add curry leaves followed by the wet masala paste, turmeric, red chilly powder and salt. Add the dry ground masala, quickly stir a bit to mix well.
4. Throw in the crab and turn over from time to time to coat with the masala well. Pour 1 cup of water around the sides of the pot to wash away the masala sticking to the sides., mix well and let it simmer on low for 10 – 15 mins till you get a whiff of the aroma. At this stage the masala thickens and the oil rises to the top which means the crab is ready.
5. Pour a little more water on the sides and mix well so that it is neither too dry nor too runny but just right. Sprinkle a little lemon juice and adjust the salt to taste. Garnish with chopped coriander and lemon wedges. Serve hot with boiled rice or hoppers. Enjoy!
Always buy live crabs and cook it as soon as you kill and clean it.
Toasting the coconut pieces evenly in the oil and grinding them and the whole spices slightly coarse gives a good texture to the dish as well as added flavour and taste.
Remove the seeds from the tomatoes before roasting them. Use vine or plum tomatoes for their tangy sweet taste.
Clean the crab legs by scraping the sides which have dark spots and a thin film of hair.
Cut the body of the crab into 4 quarters and not more. With smaller pieces there’s hardly any flesh left when cooked.
For those who like it less hot, reduce the amount of chillies or you may add whole green chillies instead of grinding them with the masala.
Follow the exact proportions and instructions as given in the recipe and you will be really happy with the outcome. I have been making this all my life and everybody just loves it.