This is a fiery curry, so if you prefer a milder flavour, reduce the chilli powder to taste. Freeze any leftover paste for up to three months, or double the recipe to serve four, cooking the crabs in batches.
- 2 mud crabs (about 800g each)
- 1 tbs vegetable or peanut oil
- 1 tomato, diced
- 10 fresh curry leaves *
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbs chilli powder
- 280ml coconut milk
- 2 tbs coriander seeds
- 11/2 tbs cumin seeds
- 1 tbs black peppercorns
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 50g desiccated coconut
- 1 large green chilli, chopped
- 3cm piece ginger, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, halved
- 150ml white wine vinegar
* Available from selected greengrocers.
Put crabs to sleep by freezing them for 2 hours. Remove legs and crack shells with a rolling pin. Remove top of shells and discard. Using a spoon, scrape off and discard feathery-looking gills. Wash out guts and wash the heads under running water. Chop bodies in half.
For the curry paste, grind coriander, cumin and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Transfer to a food processor, add onion, coconut, chilli, ginger, garlic and vinegar, then process to a rough paste. Set half the paste aside for future use.
Heat oil in a large wok over medium-low heat and cook remaining paste for 8-10 minutes until fragrant. Add tomato, curry leaves, turmeric and chilli powder and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Add crab and 1/2 cup (125ml) water, then bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Serve with steamed rice.