This spicy and deliciously nutritious dish originates from the northern parts of the Island, called Jaffna. This curry is a perfect statement to the wonderful taste that the Sri Lankan cuisine offers- spicy flavourful curries, sweet, caramelized onion delights, grated coconut made spicy and so many more enjoyments that will take your senses on a roller coaster ride. Jaffna curries are most often made with seafood and mutton. In this recipe, let us look at a seafood Jaffna curry. 


A crab curry that is prepared in Jaffna style is an excellent source of nutrition for you and your loved ones. Crabs have the highest protein content of any meat, and the protein they provide is of excellent quality. Crabmeat is low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals, as well as Omega-3 polyunsaturated acids. Crab flesh has 30 times the copper concentration of cod and 56 times the copper content of salmon, ham, and beef. These are just some of the additional nutritional benefits that crabs provide if the fact that it tastes great wasn't enough to entice you. Crabs have the highest protein content of any meat, and the protein they provide is of excellent quality. Crabmeat is low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals, as well as Omega-3 polyunsaturated acids.


So, whenever you can score some excellent crabmeat, here is a recipe that will win hearts and guts for you!



Prep time- 20 minutes 

Cook time- 25 minutes



  • 6 tablespoon sesame oil

  • 4 cleaned, quartered and cracked crabs (par-cooked)

  • Black peppercorns

  • Grated fresh coconut

  • Long green chiles, finely chopped

  • Ghee

  • Fennel seeds

  • Red onion, quartered, sliced

  • Black mustard seeds

  • Curry leaves

  • Cumin seeds

  • Jaffna Roasted Curry powder (homemade- scroll to find the recipe)

  • ground chilli

  • ground turmeric

  • Coconut milk

  • seedless tamarind purée

  • Sprig murunga (drumstick), leaves picked 

  • Lime, juiced


  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • Coriander seeds – 1 ¼ cups

  • Black Peppercorns – 1/3 cup

  • Cumin seeds – ¼ cup

  • Dried Chile de Arbol, de-stemmed – ¾ cup

  • Fennel seeds – 1/3 cup

  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/8 cup

  • Cardamom seeds – 2 tsp

  • Turmeric powder – 1/8 cup

  • Curry leaves - 8


Step 1

First, let us prepare the Jaffna roasted curry powder and set it aside so that it can be used in the curry. You can store this powder in a jar and use it for a while in any Jaffna curry that you want to make. Cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom, and fenugreek are dry roasted in a skillet over low heat until golden, then removed and set aside. Dry roast the remaining ingredients separately in the same pan, stirring regularly to prevent the ingredients from burning. When ready, grind all of the ingredients to a fine powder and store in an airtight container.

Step 2

In a large frying pan over high heat, toss in 2 tsp cumin seeds and 1 tsp peppercorns. Cook for 2 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Return to high heat after transferring to a crusher and wiping the pan clean with a paper towel. Toss in ½ cup freshly grated coconut, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until golden, then add to cumin seed mixture with 1 tablespoon water. Set aside after grinding to a smooth paste using a mixer.

Step 3

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 50g ghee over high heat, then add 1 tsp mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds, or until they pop. Add fennel seeds and cook they start to brown. Toss in 1 quartered red onion, 10 curry leaves and 3 finely chopped green chillies, and cook for 4 minutes or until onion is browned. Add in 1 tbsp of Jaffna curry powder, 2 tsp powdered chilli, and  ¼ tsp turmeric until everything is well combined. Add in the crab, and combine well. Cook, stirring regularly so the spices don't burn, for 3 minutes or until the crab starts to change colour.

Step 4

In a mixing bowl, combine the spicy coconut paste that was set aside, 400 ml coconut milk, 1 tbsp tamarind purée, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil with the crab mixture. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 12 minutes, or until crab is just done, tossing halfway through. 

Step 5

Increase the heat to medium, remove the lid, and continue to cook for 4 minutes, or until the liquid has thickened somewhat. Toss in 1 sprig of murunga leaves and 1/ 2 lime juice after seasoning with salt.

Step 6

Your deliciously fiery Sri Lankan Jaffna Crab curry is ready to be served hot with some long grain steamed rice or enjoyed all by itself. Bon Appetit!