Serve this Sri Lankan crab kari as part of a menu along with Hoppers' yellow rice and samphire and sea beet sambol. Next, check out our egg hoppers, coconut sambal and more Sri Lankan recipes, plus our insider guide to Sri Lankan food.


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