The only seafood I use to enjoy in my childhood days was fish and shrimp/prawns. Though rarely my mom used to cook crabs I never did dared to taste it..
Firstly because of their severe smell and next I couldn't understand how the heck we eat it...You have to keep cracking the shell of its legs and body to get to its flesh...It looked tedious to me and more over I thought who kicked me for such an adventure...until one day after I got married my husband made a crab curry that broke of the shell of me not trying them. That was the tastiest seafood I had tasted. I think I got more fascinated by the thick gravy that he prepared for the crabs...Ever since I started trying them...AND in these 10-11 years of marriage I would have eaten them 10-15 times...Mostly we cook them at home..but there use to be one Malayalee restaurant in Chennai, which use to have Crab Manchurian on their menu which use to be exceptionally great. One other place was the Nagapattam seashore, Tamil Nadu India...I should say one of best places to enjoy seafood..their fish and Nandu(crabs) are irresistible..accompanied with Kothuroti(mashed egg parota w/ choice of meat/chicken) and mutte dosa(thin egg dosa) with mild yet spicy fish gravy..
So Crab/Nandu(Tamil)/Peethalu(Telugu) is one seafood which comes with a reciting story in my life. I made it only a few times after I came to this part of the world. Guess I'm not so fortunate enough to get those live jumbo crabs. So have to rely on the small or medium size frozen box crabs...
This recipe is not the exact one that my hubby made the first time. Nevertheless it tastes good too.
1 box Frozen crabs cleaned
3 Tbsp oil(canola/olive)
3 medium onions
6-8 green chillies
200 gms coconut
1 tbsp rice flour
200gms crushed tomato puree
2 Tbsp ginger garlic paste
3/4 tsp fennel seeds
10 - 12 curry leaves
a bunch of coriander leaves - finely chopped.
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilly powder
1 tsp each cumin & coriander powders (optional)
Salt to taste
Defrost, clean and wash the crabs and keep them separate. You can add a Little turmeric, chilly and salt to marinate them as we are working on the gravy for them.
De skin onions and cut them into cubes, add the fennel seeds and grind them to a fine paste...keep aside
Add the slit green chillies to the crated coconut and make a smooth paste
Now in a wok or kadai, heat oil and then add the onion fennel paste. cook this for 3-5 mins till the rawness of the onion is gone. Now add ginger garlic paste and cook for 2 mins.
Add curry leaves and saute'
Add turmeric and fry for a min.
Add coconut and chilly paste and cook for 3-5 mins
Now add the tomato puree and cook for 5-6 mins or till the mixtures leaves the oils.
Now add all the malasa powders and some salt, mix well. cook for 2 mins till nice aroma is achieved.
Now add the crabs and the remaining salt and mix well till all the crabs are well coated with the gravy mixture.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup water and cook on medium heat till the crabs change color and appeared to be cooked, about 5-7 minutes.
Once the crabs are almost done, add the rice flour to thicken the gravy and make it stick to the crabs.
Add the chopped coriander leaves and remove for heat.
This is one richly flavoured and aromatic dish.
In my experience this crab preparation is best combo with Egg fired rice and a papad. The thick gravy that is dressing the crabs perfectly goes with the mild fried rice and scrambled papad.