Kerala Crab Curry | Njandu Varutharachathu | Forks N Knives

Kerala Crab Curry | Njandu Varutharachathu

Monday, August 25, 2014
My fond memories of crab curries are of the ones cooked by my aunt. Most of the times they were prepared by dry roasting coconut along with other spices. Every time our family went to Kerala for summer vacations ,this was a must. Our home town is  Haripad, a small town in Allepey District which boasts of backwaters  and thus the availability of fresh fish all year around. We get live crabs! And by live i mean,the black colored dangerous types(Well,almost all live ones are dangerous!!)

I & Rakesh often visit the local Korean Super Market (H- Mart) here for their fresh sea food. Every time we see crabs,we decide lets not buy them today,maybe some other day and yesterday was that some other day. Four live soft shell blue crabs!! A quick phone call to mom for recipe and i was ready to get going.

I threw the crabs in freezer for 2-3 hours to save myself from possible attacks and also since i wasn't planning to cook it right away ! In case you plan to cook it live throw them into boiling hot water and they are set. I saw Vahchef's video on how to clean them and it was pretty easy.

If you have never tasted a crab curry before, the kerala version is a big hit with almost everyone i know.

Seafood and Crab lovers- Enjoy!!


For roasted coconut paste:

a. 1 tsp coconut oil
b. 1 cup grated coconut
c. 4-6 shallots
d. 1 tsp black pepper corns
e. 1 tsp red chilli powder
f. 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
g. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
h. 2 sprig curry leaves 
i. 1 tsp coriander powder

For fresh garam masala:
a. 3-4 cloves
b. 2 star anise
c. 2 pods cardamom
d. fennel seeds/perum jeerakam- 1/4 tsp
e. cinnamon stick -2 inch pieces
(or) use store bought ones-1 tsp

For curry:

a. 4 soft shell blue crabs cleaned and cut into pieces
b. 6-8 shallots 
c. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
d. 1 tsp red chilly powder
e. 1 tsp freshly ground pepper corns
f. ginger crushed 1 tsp
g. garlic 5-6 cloves
h. 3-4 green chilles
i. 1 tsp coconut oil
j. 2-3 pieces of gamboge/kodam pulli/kokkam
k. salt as per taste
l. water as required

For tempering:

a. 1 tsp coconut oil
b. few curry leaves
c. 2 dried red chillies
d. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
e. 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds(ulluva)
f. 1-2 shallots


Heat 1 tsp oil and dry roast all ingredients listed under for roasting till the raw smell is gone. Be careful not to burn them. Turn off the flame and allow it cool and once its cooled, grind into a fine paste by adding water as required.

Soak gamboge in warm water for 5 mins.

Take an Earthen Pot or a heavy bottom vessel,pour oil and add shallots,ginger,garlic,curry leaves,slit green chillies,turmeric powder,pepper powder,red chilly powder. Saute for 3-5 mins and add crabs,water,salt and the gamboge. Allow it boil for 8- 10 mins on a medium flame.

Add the roasted coconut paste with water as needed and cook on med- high flame for 10-12 mins. 
Add freshly ground garam masala and cook for another 2-3 mins.
In another pan for tempering,put coconut oil,after it heats up add mustard seeds and allow it to crackle,add fenugreek seeds, shallots, red chillies, curry leaves and pour it into the gravy .Keep it covered until you are ready to serve, for the crabs to absorb all the flavors from the gravy.


1. You can use any oil you prefer, but the malayalee in me loves anything and everything to do with coconut!!
2. These are best served with rice/appams/rotis.
3. Use shallots instead of onions for better flavor.
4. Nothing can beat the flavor you get from Earthen pots(Manchatti).

Do try and let me know how they tasted!


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