Although an advocate of healthy home-cooked food, India's most distinguished cricketer Rahul Dravid reportedly has one guilty indulgence - buttery crab. Crabs are a pain to eat, what with all the prying of claws and scooping out of the flesh involved. But the taste of the meat - sweet, soft and delicate, makes it all worth it. Dravid would know.
While masala crab is a favourite recipe in many coastal regions of India, every state makes it differently. In Maharashtra and Goa, Khekdyache Sukhe is made with an aromatic ground masala native to the 'Karwaris'. The same masala can be used to cook other types of seafood and even chicken. Check out Archana Arte's recipe below:
In Chennai, fancier restaurants charge a bomb for huge crabs while humbler establishments serve smaller crabs that are as flavourful. In his article, "Why we should cheer for the Chettinad crab masala", food blogger Kalyan Karmakar writes, "Egged on by Chef Ajit, I bit on the crab shell to break it open. The first taste to hit me was the scintillating peppery heat of the masala coating the crab shell. Then we plucked out the white crab meat, which was sweet and tasted very fresh and had the alluring aftertaste of the spices enrobing the lovely crab meat."
Chettinad crab masala
In Kerala, crab masala is made with a fiery gravy that is balanced by coconut milk. The dish is usually served with steamed rice and involves slow cooking of the crabs. If you find cleaning the crabs cumbersome, local vendors will do it for you. Here is food blogger Paluk Khanna's recipe for Kerala-style masala crab:
1 kg ( 4 nos) crab, medium size
3 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 large onions finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2 green chillies, slit into halves
20 curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder
100 ml coconut milk
Salt to taste
1. In a pan heat oil and add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add fennel seeds.
2. When the fennel seeds get lightly roasted, add onions and stir.
3. Once the onions are translucent, add ginger, garlic, curry leaves and green chilly and continue to fry.
4. Add tomatoes when the onions become golden brown and stir.
5. When tomatoes become soft add turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder and continue to fry, remembering to stir.
6. Once the oil starts separating from the gravy and you can see it on the edges of the vessel, add a tablespoon of coconut milk and stir.
7. Add crabs and mix well with the gravy. Cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes or till the crabs are cooked. Make sure to turn the crabs every two to three minutes. Crabs will be cooked when the colour starts changing and there will be aroma of fried crabs.
8. Take the crabs out and place them in the serving dish, add remaining coconut milk and boil the gravy and pour over the crabs.