Next time you have live crabs at the market, bring home and make this Mangalore-style Crab Sukka Recipe – a specialty from an Indian coastal city from the state of Karnataka. You will love the earthy flavours from blending whole spices with fresh coconut and a whole lot of crabs. Serve with roti or rice for the perfect seafood meal.
Crabs might look intimidating to cook but they’re fairly easy once you keep a few pointers in mind. Firstly (and I can’t stress this enough), buy them as fresh as you possibly can – live would be ideal. Once cleaned, wash thoroughly. I always cover and cook them so they retain all the moisture and the delicate crab meat doesn’t dry out. They begin to change colour from a translucent-white (if using blue swimmer crabs) or opaque black (rock crabs) fairly quickly to a white & orange and from that moment on it usually takes anywhere between 10-15 minutes to cook perfectly on low flame.
There’s a few striking differences between the way this dish is made in Goa v/s Mangalore – the Goan variant is made using fresh green chillies while this dish uses whole dry red chillies. Don’t cheat and use a red chilli powder, I assure you it impacts the flavour negatively. The fresh grated coconut is ground into a rough paste, while the Goan version has the coconut added towards the end, almost like a garnish. The use of spices adds a real depth of flavour and pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the crab meat.
Serve it with a side of rotis/flat breads or as a side dish to any meal to seriously up the seafood quotient. I’ve had squeaky clean pans and a mountain of messy crab shells every single time I’ve made it – no greater testament than that to a truly successful dish. You’ll know just what I mean when you make this dish at home yourself. Happy cooking!
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- 6 crabs (cleaned and cut into pieces)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 cups coconut fresh grated
- 1 onion large (finely sliced)
- 4 whole red kashmiri chillies
- 3 whole long red chillies
- 5 - 6 cloves garlic
- 1.5 cups water
- 1.5 inches ginger
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 3/4 tsp coriander seeds
- 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1.5 tbsps vegetable oil
- 2 sticks curry leaves
- 1 tbsp coriander leaves (finely chopped)
- salt (to taste)
Once the crabs are cleaned and cut into pieces, marinate with salt and turmeric powder, set aside for about 20-30minutes.
In a mixer grinder, add all the whole chillies, garlic, ginger, coriander and cumin seeds. Blend into a coarse paste with some water (just enough to mix). Once blended nicely, add in the fresh grated coconut and the tamarind paste but only blitz for about 5 seconds so that the coconut is still rough.
In a pan heat oil. Add the finely sliced onions and fry until softened. Add the ground spice and coconut paste and cook for a couple of minutes on medium to low flame, stirring regularly.
Add the crabs along with warm water and cover to cook. This should take about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
In a separate pan, prepare the tadka. Heat some oil, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the curry leaves and toss in directly into the crabs masala.
Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves and serve immediately.