It isn’t everyone who likes the idea of eating a crab. But to those who dare to try, there are rewards of tastes so subtle, of textures so soft they can never found in other food. I have eaten lobster, but to me nothing beats the flavor of a crab. I don’t, however, like the idea of dismembering a crab. Which is why I have been putting off making a crab all this time. Besides, I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right, and was afraid I would land my family in a physician’s waiting room. So when I found relatively inexpensive crabs, large ones at that, with the vendor offering to clean them for me, I jumped at the opportunity!
Something happened, though, which almost made me change my mind. My daughter was admiring the crabs while I bargained with the vendor. They were making her laugh! For a minute she turned around to look at other fish, when the vendor removed them for cleaning. Suddenly she turned around and saw that the crab container was empty. “Mommy, where did the crabs go?” Awww…. I felt so wretched, right at that moment, I fought an impulse to tell the vendor to let the crabs go, and bring them home as pets instead! Sense prevailed, and I told her a little white lie. I told her that the crabs just found a way to escape and ran away! I am such a liar… :-((
Yet everything was okay in the night when I finally cooked my treasure. My daughter loved the meat very much! Thank Gawd!
- 4 crabs, cleaned
- 2 medium onions, one sliced lengthwise, the other finely chopped
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 20 peppercorns
- 10 cloves
- 1/4th blade of mace
- 2 inch piece of cinnamon
- 1/2 pod of star anise (dagad fool)
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1/4th nut of nutmeg
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 4 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 cups grated coconut (I used desiccated coconut)
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
- salt to taste
Place a heavy bottomed griddle on the burner lopsided, in such a way that the burner directly heats only one side of the griddle. Pour a tablespoonful of oil on the griddle. Start with the coriander seeds. Once they begin to change color, bring them to the side of the griddle which is not in direct contact with the heat. Next add the peppercorns. Once they pop, bring them to the side too. Repeat the above steps with cloves, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, dry red chillies and finally poppy seeds. Once all these ingredients are done roasting, throw in the onion which has been sliced lengthwise. Mix all the ingredients together this time, and saute well till the onion changes color to golden brown. Now add the coconut and saute again for about five minutes till the coconut yields a coconut-ey aroma.
Turn off the heat and let the roasted spices cool a while. Once they have cooled, blend them to a smooth paste with 1 cup water, turmeric powder, tamarind and salt.
Now heat the remaining oil in a large wok. Throw in the chopped onions and saute for two minutes. Now add the masala paste. Saute for about five minutes till oil starts separating from the masala. Now kiss your crabs goodbye and place them in the gravy. Add three more cups of water and bring the curry to a boil. Taste the curry and adjust the seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Lower the heat and cook covered for ten more minutes.
By this time the neighbors, if non-vegetarians, will have started inquiring what the aroma is all about! Show off proudly indeed!
Serve it hot with chapati, bhakri or steamed rice!