Sri Lankan crab curry with Keralan parathas

Preparation time
1-2 hours

Cooking time
30 mins to 1 hour

Serves 4–6

The Hairy Bikers

By The Hairy Bikers

For the parathas

  • 500g/1lb2oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp condensed milk
  • 150ml/5fl oz full-fat milk
  • 115g/4oz butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil

For the crab curry

  • 2 x 1kg/2lb4oz cooked large whole crabs, meat picked, or 750g/1lb10oz white and brown crabmeat
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil or groundnut oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 35g/1¼oz fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 fresh bird’s-eye chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • 14 dry curry leaves or 7 fresh curry leaves
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2½ tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, to garnish
  • 25g/1oz coconut flakes, toasted, to garnish


  1. To make the parathas, put the flour, eggs, sugar, salt and condensed milk into a food processor fitted with a dough blade. Mix until well combined. With the processor running, gradually add the milk until the mixture comes together as a soft dough. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and lrefridgerate for at least 1 hour.

  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Take a small piece of the dough and roll into the shape of a golf ball. Using a rolling pin, roll the ball out into a circle that is 3mm thick. Brush each side with the melted butter.

  3. Fold up the dough circle like a concertina, with pleats that are about 2.5cm/1in deep. Once whole circle is pleated, twist into a coil and then fold into a circle, tucking the ends in. Turn the dough over and flatten with your hand. Sprinkle the top with a little flour and roll out again to a circle that has a diameter of about 15cm/6in. Repeat until all of the dough is used and set aside until ready to cook.

  4. To make the curry, if you have whole crabs then prepare the crabs and remove the meat.

  5. Heat the oil in a very large flameproof casserole dish or large saucepan over a medium heat. Fry the onions for 5–8 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly. Increase the heat and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until golden, stirring constantly.

  6. Reduce the heat and stir in the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric, fenugreek, curry leaves and cinnamon and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour the coconut milk into the pan and stir in the salt, lime juice and 500ml/18fl oz of water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  7. Add all of the crabmeat and return to a simmer. Cover and cook for a further 10 minutes, crushing the crab against the sides of the pan to release as much flavour as possible.

  8. Meanwhile, to cook the parathas, heat a little of the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add a paratha and fry for 1–2 minutes on each side, or until crisp and golden brown on the outside and soft and flaky on the inside. Keep each paratha warm in a very low temperature oven and cook the remaining parathas.

  9. Garnish the curry with the coriander and coconut flakes and serve with the parathas alongside.

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