crab curry fiji indian recipe

Crab Curry with Coconut Milk & Tomatoes


8 servings

Prep time

45 minutes

Cooking time

1 hour



This crab curry isn’t the one I grew up eating but learnt from my husband. He grew up eating this rich coconut flavoured crab curry and I grew up eating the ‘suruwa’ (soupy) curry. At first I was hesitant to ruin my classic flavours of the crab curry because it is one of my favourite foods but after I tried this recipe, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a South Indian curry and so is packed full of complex flavours, a heavy dose of spice and thick gravy.

If you head down to the markets in Fiji, you will find these amazing crabs being sold (or sold out). They’re just caught and super fresh and you must make them as soon as possible! Freezing them really drains out the beautiful flavour. In the next few photos you will see these crabs and my husband’s grandmother expertly cleaning the mud crabs at her home in Ba.

For this recipe, mud crabs are highly recommended because they have a distinct salty flavour. But there is no harm in trying other crabs for this recipe (I have used Spanner crabs – not as flavoursome but full of soft white meat). It is perfect for any weather especially in the winter months so boil a kettle of hot black tea to go with this hearty meal.


  • 8 Large Mud Crabs (shell removed)

  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)

  • 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds (Sarso)

  • 1/2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds (Methi)

  • 1 tsp Turmeric (Haldi Powder)

  • 3 Tbsp Masala (add more if you want a soupy curry)

  • 6 Tbsp Oil

  • Ginger – 1inch piece

  • 1 Bulb Garlic

  • Chillies – To Taste

  • 2 Brown Onions

  • 1 Brown Coconut (Grated and Milked)

  • 1 Sprig Curry Leaves

  • 3 Fresh Tomatoes – Diced

  • Coriander –  A Handful

  • 1 Inch Piece of Tamarind (Pulped)


  • First of all, wash and clean crabs thoroughly. Remove the shell and use a small brush to scrub the mud off of the crab pieces
  • Once the crabs are clean, dice the onions and make a paste of the garlic, ginger and chillies. Set these aside
  • Then heat oil in a large pot and add the cumin (jeera), mustard (sarso) and fenugreek (methi) seeds along with curry leaves and cook till they begin to crackle and pop
  • Now place the onions into the pot and cook till they turn translucent (see through) and have browned a bit. This takes about 10 minutes
  • Once the onions are golden add in the ginger, garlic and chilli paste. Cook till the garlic is brown
  • Next, the tomatoes go in and are cooked till the oil begins to surface
  • Then add the masala and turmeric and fry till oil separates again
  • In go the crabs; mix thoroughly to ensure the masala gravy coats every piece of succulent crab. Fry this for a few minutes; till the crabs begin to turn red. Be sure to turn the mixture constantly or the gravy will burn
  • Once the crabs are red and coated in gravy, add salt and then add water according to the consistency required. Taste the gravy to balance the salt and add some more masala if its taste is not coming through
  • Let the crabs simmer on low heat for a few minutes and once the aroma is wafting through the air, add the tamarind pulp and coconut milk and a handful of grated coconut. Simmer for a few minutes and taste the flavours again to adjust them to your liking. Garnish with chopped coriander
  • Serve immediately. Goes well with white rice but is amazing with roti. Red tea is the preferred beverage to accompany a hot crab curry meal

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