• Sri Lankan crab curry (Sharyn Cairns)Source: Sharyn Cairns

The cumin and tamari additions right at the end complement the sweetness of the crab. All you'll need is a little rice and an ice cold beer and you're set. Food Safari Water






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (19 votes)

This recipe shows you just how easy coconut milk is to make at home. 


  • 2 fresh coconuts, freshly grated
  • 50 g tamarind pulp
  • 50 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp green cardamom pods
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 pandan leaves, cut into 5 cm lengths
  • 5 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp mild curry powder (roast Jaffna curry powder)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 blue swimmer crabs, cleaned, whole
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • Steamed rice, to serve

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.


Place the freshly grated coconut in a bowl with 250 ml (1 cup) water and squeeze together with your hands. Squeeze through a strainer. Repeat the process with the same coconut, adding another 250 ml (1 cup) water. You should end up with 500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk.

Combine the tamarind and 125 ml (½ cup) warm water in a bowl and squeeze together to break up the pulp. Strain through a fine sieve, discard the pulp and reserve the tamarind water.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel, garlic, cardamom pods, onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the pandan leaves, curry leaves, cinnamon stick, then the curry powder, turmeric and half the ground cumin. Season with salt. Stir well, then pour in the coconut milk.

Add the cleaned crabs, cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes or until just cooked through. Add the tamarind water, tamari and the remaining cumin.

Check the seasoning, then serve with rice and a cold beer!


Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachel Lane. Creative concept by Belinda So.

Maeve O'Meara is back in Food Safari Water airing 7.30pm Wednesday nights on SBS and then you can catch-up on all episodes via SBS On Demand. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.