Mangalore is a relatively small city on the south-west coast of India. It has however, great renown for it's cuisine which relies upon the abundance of sea-food available and the use of locally grown coconut.
Here's a lovely dish making use of crab and produces a beautifully succulent curry with an amazingly rich gravy combining the fresh coconut, spices and coconut milk. It's simple, easy to prepare and delicious - what could be a better combination!
4 live crabs - weighing 250 - 300 g each
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
3 sprigs of curry leaves
2 bay leaves
3 green chillies - halved lengthwise
pinch of asafoetida powder
1 teaspoon chili powder (mild or hot depending on personal taste)
2 large tomatoes chopped
3 medium sized onions sliced
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
250 ml of coconut milk
30 g freshly grated coconut (or moistened desiccated)
Firstly take the live crabs and plunge them into a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. When cool take a large knife and chop into large pieces. Clean and remove the spongy grey matter. Set aside.
Now for the fun and fragrant bit! Take your trusty wok and fry the mustard seeds in a little oil over a medium high heat until they start popping. Add the curry and bay leaves plus the green chillies and stir fry over a slightly lower heat for 60 seconds, before adding the asafoetida. Asafoetida is an interesting spice known amongst other things as devils dung, stinking gum and "food of the gods". Uncooked it is pungent and must be stored in airtight jars, however when cooked smells deliciously of fried onions and garlic. Medicinally it also reduces flatulence.....
Add the onions and cook until transparent, then sprinkle the turmeric and chilli powders. Stir fry for 1 minute before adding the crab pieces and the chopped tomatoes. Place the cover on the wok and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes, remove cover and add the coconut milk and a sprinkle of salt. Bring gently to the boil, remove from the heat and add the grated coconut.
Place in a large serving bowl, garnish with a little coriander if desired and serve with plain boiled rice. Steamed okra would be an ideal accompaniment
Enjoy this wonderful Indian dish - you'll not be disappointed I promise!