Crab Masala Fry Recipe

25.03.2014 Spicy-Indian-Crab-Masala-Fry.jpg
Prasanna Sankhe

Crab Masala Fry is a fragrant medley of spices and aromatics. Its spicy punch is set off deliciously by the sweet crab meat.

Why this recipe works:

  • Toasting whole spices and aromatics in oil over low heat helps draw out fat-soluble flavor compounds and triggers complex reactions that improves their aroma.
  • We cook the spiced tomato mixture until the fat breaks out into droplets on the surface. This is an indication that the moisture content has reduced sufficiently to intensify flavors.

Recipe Facts

Cook: 40 mins
Active: 25 mins
Total: 40 mins
Serves: 2 servings

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  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup), divided

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds

  • 1 whole small dried red chile, such as Thai bird or chile de árbol

  • 5 whole black peppercorns

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1-inch piece of ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 cup tomato purée 

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 2 medium Dungeness or Jonah crabs, cleaned and cut into half

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  • Cooked rice or flatbread for serving


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat until shimmering. Add 1 tablespoon chopped onion, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dried chili, peppercorns, cloves, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add fennel seeds. Stir to mix through. Immediately transfer to the bowl of a blender or mortar and pestle and blend/pound until a fine paste is formed, scraping down sides as necessary.

  2. Wipe out saucepan with a paper towel and add remaining oil. Heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the remaining onion. Cook, stirring, unti lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato puree, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add turmeric powder and the ground spice paste. Stir well to combine and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil separates and starts surfacing. Add a few drops of water if the paste tends to stick or get too dry.

  3. Add the crab and salt. Spoon some of the sauce over the crab to coat. Cover and cook for 5 minute. Remove lid, stir, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, spooning the sauce over the crabs occasionally. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve immediately with rice or bread.

Special Equipment

Blender/mortar and pestle. Heavy-bottomed [lidded] saucepan

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
453 Calories
24g Fat
24g Carbs
39g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 453
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 30%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 163mg 54%
Sodium 1379mg 60%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 39g
Vitamin C 25mg 124%
Calcium 241mg 19%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 1370mg 29%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)