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Simple Crab Curry Recipe

Simple Crab Curry Recipe

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This Simple Crab Curry Recipe is made the South African way. I remember my mum making a huge pot of Crab Curry so everyone could eat as much as they like and enjoy it. 

Simple Crab Curry Recipe

Simple Crab Curry in a black bowl

All I can say if you’re making a Crab Curry it has to be hot. If it’s not is it even a Crab Curry? It’s the only way we eat crab. There are other ways but this is our favorite.

Let me warn you, this is a messy curry to eat. So I recommend you eat it within the confines of your own home and with familiar people…Lol!

If you saw my family eat it you would know what I am talking about. 

Loads of Chilli

I must be honest I tried not to make it so hot that it’s not edible. Our palates are pretty used to the heat so our hot may be too hot for some.

My 12-year-old was able to eat it so it couldn’t have been that bad. He was huffing and puffing whilst eating it. But he kept saying “this is soooo good”…haha!

You have to have that one child that is always on mum’s side. He’s that child.  If you can handle the heat you can add more chilli and chilli powder to this curry.

The chilli that I used had quite a lot of heat to it, therefore I didn’t use that many. My mum would definitely have used more in her curry.


I know I am going to get asked what is masala. So for the benefit of my readers abroad. Masala is a blend of spices that we use here in South Africa.

There is a recipe for Masala on my blog. You can attempt to make your own if you wish. Alternatively use chilli powder for this dish and add 1/2 tsp of cumin and coriander and a 1/4 tsp of ground fennel.

My masala already had all the necessary spices so I didn’t add any extra spices. For this Simple Crab Curry Recipe you actually do not need a whole lot of spices.

Simple can also taste delicious. Not every curry needs our whole cupboard of spices.

Cooking the Crab

When I call it a Simple Crab Curry Recipe then you know it really is simple. I think Crab is one of the easiest dishes to cook. 

For this Spicy Crab Curry I used the large orange crab. It was really fresh and so delicious. When cleaning the crab try and make little cracks on them.

I use the back of a knife to gently crack the crabs, just a little. But be careful not to hurt yourself. This allows some of the flavor to get in.

My mum always fried her crab in the spices before cooking the actual curry. This allowed the spices to infuse and it made the curry really flavorful. 

You will see some curries have a lot of oil. I must admit this curry doesn’t need that much oil. In fact if I do add too much oil I feel like I’m choking on the oil. 

Can you imagine the heat and then adding a bucket of oil to it. No thank you, it doesn’t work for me. It may look very nice but it isn’t always pleasant to eat.

If you prefer a more dry version of the Crab Curry you can reduce the amount of tomatoes. We eat the crab curry with rice so we prefer it a bit more saucy.


Tamarind is also optional for this curry. There are times I use tamarind and if I don’t have any I leave it out. Some people add more tamarind to their curry but I prefer a subtle hint of tamarind.

It can also make the curry a little too tangy. If you don’t like the tangy taste I suggest you don’t add too much or leave it out completely.

If you’re looking for something a little different this Goan Crab Curry sounds yummy. It’s next on my list of recipes to try.

More Seafood Recipes to try:

South Indian Fish Curry

Goan Prawn Curry

Spicy Prawn Curry

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5 from 1 vote

Simple Crab Curry Recipe

This crab curry is so delicious with loads of heat. Cooked the South African way in a spicy, hot tomato based sauce.
Course Main Course
Cuisine South African
Keyword crab curry, hot and spicy crab curry, indian curry, south african recipes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 kg cleaned crab
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil or canola oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs curry leaf
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 green chillies slit in halves
  • 10 small roma tomatoes makes 2 cups once blended
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp tamarind
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • salt


  • Wash the crab and rub some coarse salt into it to get it really clean. Make a few random cracks in the crab shells
  • Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the minced garlic and fry for a minute
  • Add the crab, 2 tbsp masala, turmeric and salt and allow it to fry for 10 minutes on low heat
  • Add the onion, curry leaf and green chillies. Saute until the onion is translucent
  • Remove the skin from the tomatoes and blend them. Mix it into the crab
  • Add the chilli powder and chopped coriander. Allow it to simmer on low heat until the tomatoes are cooked and it reduces into a thick sauce. About 30 minutes
  • Mix the tamarind into the warm water. Strain and add to the curry. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes
  • Garnish with more coriander. Serve hot with rice


  1. If you don't like tamarind you can leave it out completely
  2. If you don't have masala you can use chilli powder and add half teaspoon each of cumin and coriander powder. And a 1/4 teaspoon of ground fennel
  3. The tomatoes I used were perfect but if your tomatoes are too acidic add a pinch of sugar and adjust accordingly
  4. Like most seafood curries it always tastes better the next day. So this curry can be made ahead and refrigerated
  5. The crab weighed 1kg after it was cleaned
  6. You can increase or reduce the amount of heat your prefer in this curry by adjusting the amount of chilli powder and chilli
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Sunday 10th of January 2021

Delicious! Thanks for the recipe 💛


Sunday 10th of January 2021

Thank you so much Sandhya!

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