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Sri Lankan Crab Curry

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I think you’re going to love this Sri Lankan crab curry

I recently learned this Sri Lankan crab curry recipe when my wife and I stayed at Cinnamon Hikka Tranz hotel on the west coast of Sri Lanka.

We enjoyed quite a few crab curries while travelling around Sri Lanka and staying at Cinnamon. On this occasion, the crab curry was prepared and demoed by chef Pasan Attanayake and it was out of this world delicious!

Sri Lankan crab curry

Delicious and so easy to cook. Give this Sri Lankan crab curry a try.

Which crab?

Chef Pasan used fresh mud crabs that were caught right off the coast the day he cooked them for us. If you are planning on travelling to Sri Lanka, you’ve got to try a mud crab curry! Better yet, try one at Cinnamon! You won’t be disappointed.

You can use any crab though. I can purchase frozen mud crabs near where I live but prefer to use fresh brown crab as they are local to me.

Watch this recipe!

I will be updating this page soon. This crab curry recipe will be featured in my next cookbook. I like to make each of my recipes at home before including them in a cookbook.

It also gives me a chance to shoot step by step photos for you which I will do very soon.

In the meantime, watch this video from the day…

Yield: 4

Sri Lankan Crab Curry

Sri Lankan crab curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • Lagoon Crab Curry
  • Mud Crabs cleaned and cut in half
  • Coconut-Rice Mix
  • 2 tbsp raw white rice
  • 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) desiccated coconut or freshly grated coconut
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger minced
  • 6 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp unroasted curry powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder or a bit more to taste
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 fresh red or green chillies
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 2 pandan leaves
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds


  1. Finely grind all of the curry powder spices and set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan or clay pot over medium heat. When hot, add the rice and grated coconut and dry fry until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and pound to a fine powder. Set aside
  3. Add about 2 tbsp coconut oil to a large pan or clay pot. You will need a large enough pot to be able to stir the crabs. Heat the oil over a medium heat.
  4. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the onions have softened.
  5. Now add the curry powder, chilli powder, and coconut/rice mix. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the spices become fragrant.
  6. Add the tamarind paste, sugar, chilli peppers, curry leaves and pandan plus ¾ of the coconut milk. Then season with ¼ tsp salt, more can be added later to taste. Bring to a boil.
  7. Place the crabs in the sauce and gently stir to coat the crabs in the sauce
    Bring this back to a boil on medium-high heat then lower the heat to medium . Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the crabs are just cooked through.
  8. Make sure to turn the crabs half way through to ensure they are well coated in the sauce.
  9. Add extra coconut milk if you prefer it creamier or up to ½ cup water to dilute it if you like.
  10. Serve warm with steamed rice or bread.

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For the record, my wife and I were paying guests at Cinnamon Hotels. We did receive a few free perks such as cooking demos but I was under no obligation to write anything about Cinnamon. We highly recommend Cinnamon Hotels to anyone thinking about travelling around Sri Lanka.

Cinnamon Hotel

Each of the Cinnamon hotels we stayed at were was amazing!


Thursday 14th of April 2022

Dan, Do you know if they use refined (tasteless) or unrefined (tastes like coconut) coconut oil in their cooking? Thanks

Dan Toombs

Thursday 14th of April 2022

I don't know the exact answer but the chefs I watched used virgin coconut oil. Thanks Dan

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