fiji crab curry suruwa

Fiji Style Mud Crab Curry (Suruwa)

Servings

6-8 servings

Prep time

30 minutes

Cooking time

1 hour

Difficulty

Tricky

Fiji style crab curry is made in a few different ways. There’s the South Indian version that I shared a while ago and then there’s also a fried masala type of crab curry (just eliminate coconut milk from the recipe – and maybe lessen the amount of masala you add). Finally, there is a soupy curry version of crab curry too – the Fiji crab curry suruwa. Whichever way you like it, they are all delicious in their own way.

This soupy crab curry also known as Fiji crab curry suruwa and is a North Indian recipe. Loved by many people across the country, this type of crab curry is quite tricky to make. It requires the cook to perfectly balance the ratio of masala to water to crabs or else the curry will taste like a watered down crab soup. When compared to the South Indian recipe, it is much harder to get the balance of the curry right. As with anything, the more you try, the better you get at making your curry taste delicious.

Choosing the freshest crabs is also very important in getting that yummy crab flavour. Make sure your crabs are alive when you buy them (or recently and ethically prepared). You can easily get the crab to ‘go to sleep’ by putting it in the freezer for about one hour before cooking. When cleaning crabs be careful of the claws as they are often active even after the crab has died. Many people have gotten seriously hurt when crab claws have caught on to their exposed skin or fingers.

There has been a running debate with what parts of the crab is good for eating. Most people throw away the crab shells as they say it contains no crab meat. They also remove all of the yellow stringy looking flesh (roe) or the orange bits (eggs) as they believe it isn’t good for eating while others love this flavour. Whatever your preference is, just remember that consuming a female crab – the ones with the eggs especially, is an ethical concern as is eating undersized crabs. This means the next generation of crabs will be in short supply and will gradually cause the loss of the species for future generations to enjoy. If given the chance, boycott the sellers that sell female or juvenile crabs and educate them of the dangers of carrying on with this practice. In Fiji, this isn’t an easy achievement as most people either prefer the female crabs or buy the smaller crabs as they are cheaper – but one small action can make a huge difference for the future generations.

To make the best Fiji crab curry suruwa, it is essential that you have a great masala mix. Other essential ingredients are brown onions, fresh garlic, hot chillies and fresh coriander leaves. These make the gravy or base of the crab curry except coriander which acts as an essential flavour enhancer for the crab curry suruwa. Before you begin, please note that the ingredients listed below are estimates only and largely depend on the amount and size of crabs you have. So please adjust the ingredients quantities as you go, cooking this recipe requires some adjustments and follows the principle of ‘practise makes perfect’.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 Medium Mud Crabs – Cleaned
  • 2 Tablespoons Crushed Fresh Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Masala
  • 1 Tablespoon Hot Chilli Powder (or ass desired)
  • Salt – To Taste
  • 1 Large Brown Onion – Crushed/Blended
  • 1 Tablespoon Crushed Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Turmeric (May require more or less, depending on the quality)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
  • 10-15 Curry Leaves
  • ¼ Cup Canola Oil (or any other mild flavoured oil)
  • Fresh Coriander, Chopped

Directions

  1. Mix together garlic, masala, chilli powder, onion, ginger and turmeric with water to make into a thick paste and set aside
  2. Heat about 2 litres of water and keep warm, set aside
  3. In a large pot, heat oil and add curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Cook till the seeds become brown and release an aroma – this should take a minute or two
  4. Add the paste from step 1 into the pot and cook till the oil begins to separate
  5. Add the crabs and cook till every crab has become orange in colour and is slightly fried
  6. Now add the hot water to the pot, making sure not to pour all the water at once. The crabs should be completely immersed but not ‘drowning’ in water. You may also need to add more hot water, if the crabs aren’t fully immersed
  7. Add salt to taste and keep mixing the suruwa as it continues to boil
  8. Lower heat and simmer for 10-15 mins or till the crabs look ready
  9. Turn off heat and add coriander
  10. Serve hot with roti or rice

P.S. This Fiji crab curry suruwa recipe is a very difficult one to get right every time. You will need to be patient and try out what works best over time. Even after cooking crabs for so many years, even my grandma gets it wrong (although very rare, she has made mistakes!) So don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t hit the spot the first time. Try in small batches before attempting to make a large amount. Happy cooking!

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