This famous Sri Lankan curry involves a bit of preparation and love cleaning the crab but you'll be richly rewarded by this flavoursome dish. Malcolm makes an accompanying relish of Maldive fish, rock salt, onion and chilli, known as lunu miris. Maldive fish is dried and cured bonito – used to add flavour to many Sri Lankan dishes and available at Sri Lankan grocery stores.
4-5 blue swimmer or blue manna crabs, cleaned
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs curry leaves
8 x 5cm segments rampe (pandan)
1 sliced bird’s eye chilli
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup water
2 sprigs drumstick leaves (if available) (see note)
4 heaped teaspoons Malaysian fish curry powder
2-3 teaspoons regular curry powder
1 tsp ground chillies
½ cup milk or coconut milk
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.
Prepare crabs by washing well. Break off the claws, break body in half and remove the membrane. Drain excess water, squeeze lemon over crab and sprinkle with salt.
In a large saucepan over medium heat add oil, onion, garlic, curry leaves, pandan, chilli, lemongrass and ground turmeric. Cook for 3-4 minutes until onion has softened.
Add water, the drumstick leaves if used, fish curry powder, regular curry powder and ground chillies. Stir through then and crab, milk or coconut milk. Stir regularly as it gently simmers, cook until crab cooks through.
The drumstick bean is a long green Sri Lankan pod-like vegetable, available in Sri Lankan stores. The leaves have a pleasant sour taste.