I know what you’re thinking; Fennel and crab aren’t the most traditional curry ingredients and you’re unlikely to get this down you’re local Lal Akash on Leatherhead High Street. But using fish and seafood in curries is very common in Southern India, crab curries being a particular speciality of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu.
As with most of my recipes, Ive pinched, borrowed and simplified. This is originally a Jamie Oliver (surprise, surprise) recipe, but the recipe didn’t contain any vegetables other than chillies, garlic, ginger and sliced onion. For this reason I decided to add some sliced fennel, as i thought the sweetness and slight anise flavour of the fennel would compliment both the spices and the crab. It worked perfectly, resulting in a delicious curry.
Its also ridiculously easy to make, with there being no complicated pastes to make before hand, simply finely sliced veg and whole spices. Perfect for throwing together on a Friday night after work if you’re not going out. The crab meat gives it the indulgence of a weekend dinner, but the preparation is that of a weeknight supper. Perfect!
For 4 you’ll need:
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 heaped tsp black mustard seeds or Mustard Seeds
8 green cardamom pods, crushed and outer husk discarded
2 tsp cumin seeds
thumb sized piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
3 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 white onion, finely sliced
2/3 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
2 heaped tsp turmeric
3 med-small bulbs fennel, finely sliced
100g brown meat
1 x 400g tin of coconut milk
250g white crab meat
Small bunch of coriander
Juice 1-2 lemons
300g Basmati Rice
Firsts things first, get your rice on My method of cooking rice is simple, and it takes 20 minutes for perfect rice every time. Put your weighed rice into a saucepan, with double the amount of water. So 300g of rice and 600g of water. Bring this to the boil as rapidly as possible and boil for 1 minute. Now move to the smallest hob and turn it down to very low, place a tight-fitting lid on the rice and simmer for 9 minutes. After 9 minutes, turn off the hob and leave to steam for 10 minutes. Don’t remove the lid to check! You’ll have perfect rice at the end.
For the curry: heat your oil and butter in a frying pan on a medium heat and add all of the spices to fry for several minutes. When the mustard seeds begin to pop and crackle add your sliced onion, garlic, chilli and fennel and a pinch of salt.
Sweat these vegetables for 5 minutes or so, before adding the turmeric, brown crabmeat, coconut milk and a 1/2 a tin of water. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add your white crabmeat and simmer for a further 2 minutes.
Add the coriander, reserving some to sprinkle on top, lemon juice and season. You may have to add a splash more water just to get it to the consistency of your liking.