SOUTH AFRICAN CRAB CURRY
This Indian Food Recipe Serves 2-4
This South African Crab Curry recipe is a favourite in many South African homes as South Africa has a lot of Indian influence so this crab curry is very well recognized in the city of Durban. This curry however is very similar to the South Indian recipe as many of our ancestors arrived from India years back & have passed these recipes down for generations.
There are many variations to this recipe whereby ingredients may be added or omitted.
This recipe is my mum’s which she has passed over to me. My mum is of South Indian decent (Tamil) which is why tamarind is usually added to this dish.
South African Crab Curry Ingredients:
- 1.5 kg crab – I have used Orange Crab
- 70 grams (4 tablespoons) tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 onion
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ginger & garlic paste
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 5 green chilies
- 1 ½ tablespoons tamarind (puli, imalee)
- 1 ½ cups warm water
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon jeera powder (cumin powder)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- fresh coriander (dhania) for garnishing
- Make sure the crab is defrosted as I find it is better to work with.
- For this recipe I am using Orange Crab but you may use whichever is available.
- At some stores, you can get the crab already cleaned for you but sometimes they aren’t cleaned as with mine, so start off by prepping the crab.
- If the legs are still intact, simply use a scissor & snip them off. Do not discard of them as these will be cooked.
- Discard of the sharp claws & the sharp ends of the legs.
- Flip the crab so that the underneath is visible. Thereafter you will need to lift up the apron. The apron is the triangle of shell on the bottom of the crab (on males it is smaller, narrower, and more pointed; on females it is bigger, wider, and more rounded).
- Once the apron is lifted, you will see a small hole between the body and the top shell, or carapace, at the back of the crab. Hold the body with one hand and using your thumbs pull off the top shell by grabbing the shell where that small hole is.
- After separating, the carapace (outer shell) can be discarded off.
- Working with the inside of the crab – along the sides there are two rows of opaque, feathery gills – these are the lungs. Simply pull them off, I prefer doing this under running water.
The mandibles, at the front of the crab, need to be removed–simply snap the two pointy things to break them away from the crab and discard them.
- Thereafter, rinse out the guts under running water, these are found at the front of the crab, these consist of the roes & hepatopancreas.
- You should now have a fully cleaned crab. Continue the same process for the rest of them.
- Once all the bodies are cleaned, rinse the legs under running water. Add them all to a bowl & set aside.
- Add the tamarind to a bowl.
- Pour in the 1 ½ cups of warm water to the bowl of tamarind.
- Press the tamarind between your fingers & smash it to allow it to be diluted in the water. Once done, you should have a brownish coloured water.
- Using a strainer, strain the tamarind water to get rid of the pulp that may have been left over. Set aside.
- Peel & chop the onion. Set aside in a bowl.
- Rinse green chilies, remove the stems, slit them in the middle & set aside.
- Peel, rinse & finely chop the garlic cloves & set aside.
- Rinse tomatoes & liquidize them in a blender.
- Heat the butter in a wide pot on medium heat.
- Add in the finely chopped garlic.
- Thereafter, add in the cleaned & rinsed crab.
- Mix well. Cover & allow the crab to fry for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the garlic does not burn.
- After 10 minutes, remove the crab from the pot & set aside in a bowl.
- In the same pot that the crab fried in, add in the vegetable oil. Once the vegetable oil is hot, add in the onions.
- Thereafter, add in the green chilies, mustard seeds & the curry leaves.
- Mix well & allow to simmer until the onions are translucent.
- Next, add in the garam masala, jeera (cumin) powder, turmeric powder, chili powder & the ginger & garlic paste.
- Mix & simmer for 30 seconds.
- Thereafter, add in the liquidized tomatoes.
- Add in the tomato paste.
- Mix well.
- Allow tomatoes to cook for ± 10 minutes.
- After ± 10 minutes, give it a quick stir & pour in the tamarind water.
- Mix & simmer for 5 minutes.
- Next, add in the fried crab & salt to taste.
- Mix well, cover & allow to cook on low heat for 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a thick gravy.
- After 20 minutes, notice how thick & rich the gravy looks.
- Turn off the heat.
- Garnish with fresh coriander (dhania).
- Plate & serve whilst hot.
- Goes well with rice, bread, roti or pap (kali/hard porridge/sangiti).
- This South African Crab Curry improves taste the next day, so if you are really patient unlike me, you can enjoy the best of the flavours the following day.