• Crab curry (Asia Unplated with Diana Chan)Source: Asia Unplated with Diana Chan

This is a cooking-from-scratch recipe: you’ll make a fresh curry paste, cook a whole crab, and – optional, but recommended – make fresh naan to soak it all up.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 1 live mud crab, around 1 kg
  • 60 g (¼ cup) ghee
  • 2 stalks curry leaves
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp Jaffna curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 300 ml-500 ml coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar, or to taste
  • pinch salt
  • 1 lime, halved

Naan bread

  • 2 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil, plus extra, for pan-frying
  • 70 g (¼ cup) Greek yoghurt
  • 300 g (2 cups) plain flour, plus extra for kneading
  • ½ tsp salt


  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 red Asian shallots
  • 4 small dry red chillies
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Proving time: 1 hour 
Freezing time: 1 hour

1. To prepare the crab, place it in the freezer for 2 hours to put it into a stupor so that it can be dispatched humanely. Place the crab on its back with the eyes facing you, then drive a thick skewer or the point of a sharp knife between the eyes and into the centre of the crab. Break off the tail flap on the underside and discard. Carefully pull off back shell and reserve. Cut the crab in half lengthwise, then remove the "dead man's fingers" (soft gills) and discard. Rinse and discard the stomach sac. Cut each crab half into three. Leave the large claws attached, but crack them with the heel of a knife. Refrigerate until ready to cook.

2. For the naan bread, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a bowl and set aside for 10 minutes or until it bubbles and grows in size. Once the yeast has activated, mix the egg, oil and yoghurt together in another bowl. Place the flour and salt in another large bowl.

3. Pour the activated yeast mixture and the yoghurt mixture into the flour and use your hands to knead together, adding more flour if the dough is very sticky. The dough should come together into a smooth ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover and stand in a warm place for 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, for the paste, place all the ingredients in a small blender and blitz until a coarse paste forms. You may need to add a little oil if the paste is too dry.

5. Once the naan dough is risen, take out of the bowl and knead for another 5-10 minutes. Divide into 8 balls and use a rolling pin to roll into ovals, dusting with a little flour if needed.

6. Heat a large frying pan over high heat with a little oil. When hot, cook the naan, 1 piece at a time, for 1-2 minutes or until golden on each side. Keep the naan bread wrapped in a tea towel to keep warm.

7. Heat the ghee in a large wok over high heat. Add the curry leaves then the onions and paste. Cook until till soft and aromatic, then add the curry powder and turmeric powder and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the coconut milk and season with sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, then add the crab. Bring back to the boil, cover with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the crab is just cooked. Remove from the heat and finish with a squeeze of lime juice. Serve immediately with the warm naan bread.


Diana Chan and guests explore the flavours of Asia from her Melbourne home in the second series of Asia Unplated.