This recipe has been adapted from the many wonderful regional variations within Sri Lanka. What you really need to kick this into gastronomical orbit is a really good spice powder, choose wisely. You don’t need to use whole crabs if the shell puts you off – you can use fresh crab meat, just adjust cooking time without shell.
Enough for 4
For the paste
150g freshly grated coconut
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 garlic cloves
3-4 tbsps coconut
3 tbsp vegetable oil 1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds ¼ tsp fenugreek
1cm cinnamon stick 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
½ tsp turmeric 2 tbsp Jaffna Curry Powder
1 tsp chilli power or paprika 600ml coconut milk
2 tbsp lime juice 2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp of finely chopped green chillies (I use 5)
1 tbsp of fresh ginger chopped into matchsticks and then chopped again into mini logs
10 – 12 curry leaves
2 large, fresh crabs if you can / will – ask your fishmonger to cut up into 5 or 6 pieces leaving the crab meat in the shell
- alternatively get 500g of mixed brown and white fresh crab meat
Salt to taste
To begin, make yourself a coconut paste. Using a dry pan over a low heat slowly toast the cumin, pepper and coconut one after another until lightly coloured. Peel your garlic cloves whilst allowing the others to cool. Finally blend all paste ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok and slowly sauté the fennel, fenugreek, mustard seeds and cinnamon until they start to pop. When they are crackling add the onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves and sauté for a minute (careful with the eyes!).
Add the coconut paste and stir through for 2 minutes before adding the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to a gentle simmer and check your crab is cooked. Salt to taste, don’t be afraid of your seasoning! Finally, stir through the lime juice and fresh coriander, this will really lift the dish, and serve immediately with basmati. Enjoy!