Crab in roasted coconut sauce


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

For this recipe, Crab Xec Xec, fresh crabs, cut into pieces, are simmered gently in a spice-laced roasted coconut sauce, and then served with plain boiled rice. For those who don’t fancy preparing live crabs, frozen crab claws may be used, or alternatively, pre-prepared crabs, along with all the juices. This is a hot curry, but you can adjust the level of pungency to taste by reducing the amount of green chillies.


  • 2 large fresh uncooked crabs, about 400g/14 oz each
  • 75 g/3 oz/1 cup desiccated (dry unsweetened shredded) coconut
  • 3 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 5–6 dried red chillies
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5 ml/1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp sunflower oil or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 ml/1 tsp ginger purée
  • 5 ml/1 tsp garlic purée
  • 1–2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped (deseeded if preferred)
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 3.75 ml/¾ tsp salt, or to taste
  • 22.5 ml/112 tbsp tamarind juice or lime juice
  • Plain Boiled Rice, to serve


  1. To prepare a fresh uncooked crab: lay the crab on its back and remove the claws and legs with a twisting action, then remove the feathery toes. Pull the centre portion from the main shell and remove the stomach sac, gills and lungs. Extract the meat, wash the shell and reserve. This will add flavour to the sauce. Some people discard the toes, but these will add extra flavour to the dish and they do have a little meat inside the shell. Finally, wash the claws, legs and toes and reserve.

  2. In a small, heavy pan or frying pan, dry-roast the coconut over a low heat, stirring constantly until the coconut is lightly browned. Do not allow it to darken too much. Remove the coconut to a large plate and wipe the pan clean.

  3. In the same pan, dry-roast the cloves, peppercorns, dried chillies, coriander and cumin seeds for 1 minute, until they release their aroma. Remove and allow to cool.

  4. Grind the cooled dry-roasted coconut and spices in a coffee grinder or blender, in small batches if necessary, until fine, and set aside.

  5. Heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the onion, ginger, garlic and green chillies for 8–10 minutes, or until the mixture is just beginning to brown.

  6. Stir in the turmeric, crab pieces (including the reserved shell but not the extracted meat) and the salt.

  7. Pour in 350ml/12fl oz/P/2 cups warm water and add the spices. Stir to combine well and cook gently for 3–4 minutes, then add the reserved crab meat.

  8. Cook for a further 2–3 minutes, then add the tamarind or lime juice. Stir gently and cook for about 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Serve immediately with Plain Boiled Rice.

Per portion Energy 295kcal/1223kJ; Protein 11.4g; Carbohydrate 11.7g, of which sugars 6.8g; Fat 23.1g, of which saturates 11.2g; Cholesterol 22mg; Calcium 55mg; Fibre 4g; Sodium 648mg.