A bowl of crab kari topped with crab claws on a slate background

Sri Lankan crab curry (crab kari)

  • serves 2
  • A little effort

This robust crab curry, flavoured with mustard seeds, fenugreek and lemongrass, comes from Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers in London


Serve this Sri Lankan crab kari as part of a menu along with Hoppers’ yellow rice and samphire and sea beet sambol.



  • live Devon brown crab 1, or 1.5kg of prepared crab claws
  • coconut oil 2 tbsp
  • black mustard seeds 1 tsp
  • fenugreek seeds ½ tsp
  • cinnamon 1 stick
  • lemongrass 1 stick, sliced in half lengthways
  • curry leaves 8-10
  • pandan leaf 5cm piece, or 2 dried pandan leaves
  • onion 1, finely diced
  • ginger a thumb-sized piece, peeled and finely grated
  • garlic 3 cloves, crushed
  • tomato 1 small ripe, finely diced
  • unroasted Sri Lankan curry powder 1 tbsp
  • chilli powder 1 tsp
  • ground coriander 1 tsp
  • ground turmeric ½ tsp
  • thick coconut milk 120ml
  • fresh fish stock 250ml, or water
  • green chillies 2, sliced in half lengthways (optional)


  • Step 1

    Boil the crab for 10-12 minutes until cooked through, then break it down, separating the claws, cracking the body in half and removing all the brown meat from the carapace. Discard the gills and gut. You can do this up to a day ahead and keep the meat chilled until you need it.

  • Step 2

    Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep pan over a medium heat. Fry the mustard and fenugreek seeds for 1 minute. Once they start to splutter, stir in the cinnamon stick, lemongrass, curry leaves and pandan leaves. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the onion, ginger and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring regularly for 6-8 minutes or until the onion has softened and slightly browned.

  • Step 3

    Add the tomato and all of the spices. Continue cooking for 5 minutes until the tomato breaks down to a pulp, adding a splash of water if the sauce begins to stick. Add the coconut milk and stock or water and simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid reduces to a silky sauce.

  • Step 4

    Add the brown crab meat, claws and body, and simmer for 8-10 minutes over a medium heat or until the sauce thickly coats the shells. Add the green chillies for the final 2 minutes of cooking, if using. Season and serve.

Head this way for more easy Sri Lankan recipes

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Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 393
  • Fat 26.9g
  • Saturates 19.2g
  • Carbs 12.7g
  • Sugars 7.7g
  • Fibre 6.1g
  • Protein 22.1g
  • Salt 1g