Sri Lankan crab curry in chilli-garlic sauce(thick gravy)- a delicious seafood dish, that never disappoints. bring home a few fresh crabs and have a family feast. #recipe #seafood #food #crab #srilankan #chilli #curry #howtomake



Course curry, lunch
Cuisine asian,, gluten-free, Srilankan
Keyword chilli, crab, curry, garlic ginger, seafood, srilankan
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 5
Author jehan


Ingredients mentioned below use standard measuring cups and spoons.

10 fresh crabs

4-5 tablespoons of oil

2 and 1/2 tablespoon of turmeric(both for rinsing the crabs and cooking)

1 large onion finely sliced

2 medium-sized tomatoes chopped

4 tablespoons of garlic-ginger paste

3 green or red chillies split in the middle

2 pieces of 1 inch Cinnamon

1 tablespoon of chilli powder

1/4 cup soya sauce

2 tablespoons of ketchup or tomato sauce(not tomato paste)

2 tablespoons of honey or sugar(optional ingredient)

1 cup of thick coconut milk


  1. Cleaning the crabs

    Place the prawn in a large pot that would also fit into your sink, add water, 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, rinse the crabs then drain any excess water.

  2. Once drained, turn the crab to expose the belly, you will notice a triangular flap, you won’t need to use a lot of pressure to pry open this flap. place the point of your knife to the triangular point and gently flip it open.
  3. Once you’ve opened the flap, using your fingers and running water, clean this part and remove the orange, green substance you see.
  4. Separating the crabs in two.

    Once you’ve cleaned the crabs, place it on a chopping board, belly up, now place the sharp side of the knife on the crab lengthwise.

  5. With your free hand over the blunt side of the knife, press down separating the crab in two.
  6. Clean the insides of the crab thoroughly again, removing any residues left, you can do another turmeric rinse if you want to.

  7. Once washed, drain the crabs of any excess water.(a few seconds of rinsing would do).
  8. cooking the crabs

    1st step- shallow frying the crabs and removing excess water in the crab.

    Place a large pan over medium heat, pour in 2 tablespoons of oil.

  9. Once the oil heats, add 2 tablespoons of ginger garlic paste. sauté for a few minutes(3 minutes)then add the rinsed crabs into the pan.

    Over medium heat, gently toss the crabs.

  10. As the crabs cook, they will release water, use this liquid to boil the crabs,10-12 minutes.
  11. Once the crabs change color and turn orange, remove the pan from heat and set aside or transfer the crab with any leftover crab stock into a large bowl and use the same pan.
  12. Cooking the gravy/ sauce for the crab curry.

    Place pan over medium heat and pour in the oil.

    Heat the oil for a few seconds and add the ginger-garlic paste, sauté for a few minutes.

  13. Add sliced onions, tomatoes, cinnamon and sauté ingredients for a few minutes until onions become translucent and the tomatoes a soft mush. 3-5 minutes.
  14. Continue sautéing the ingredients until you have a thick paste. add in the chillies(red or green), followed by turmeric and chilli powder.
  15. Constantly stir the ingredients in the wok so the ingredients don’t burn.

    Pour in the soya sauce followed by tomato sauce(not tomato paste).

  16. optional ingredient- at this stage I like to add 1-2 tablespoon of honey or sugar, to elevate the gravy, the sweetener doesn’t necessarily add sweetness but adds another element of flavor that I like in my gravy. adding the optional ingredient is totally up to you but I recommend following this step.
  17. Once you’ve made your thick sauce add in the thick coconut milk(see above image). stir the ingredients and season with salt.
  18. Add in more chilli powder if you want the gravy to be spicy. taste and adjust other seasonings to your taste buds.
  19. Let the gravy slow simmer for 7 minutes or until it thickens.

    Add the crab(you can add any remaining liquid as well)to the gravy, reduce, cover and simmer the crab curry for 5 minutes.

  20. Remove lid, use two wooden spoons to bring up the crabs on the bottom to the top, giving each crab time to cook and coat with gravy. mix the crab curry a few times while it cooks. 15 minutes or until there is less gravy.
  21. By this time you will also notice most of the smaller claws detaching, this is normal. once cooked serve warm.