We started serving this at the Fish House in Lyme Regis a few months back and it flies out of the kitchen. Larger crabs work better for this dish as the large front claws are easier to get into and more meaty.
1 crab weighing 2kg or 2 smaller ones, cooked
For the sauce
60g ghee or vegetable oil
3 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tbsp chopped root ginger
3 medium-strength chillis, seeded, finely chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp freshly grated turmeric or 1tsp powder
1 pinch saffron strands
1tsp curry powder
A good pinch of curry leaves
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp mustard seeds
2tsp tomato purée
Half a lemon
1.3 litre fish stock (a good cube will do)
3tbsp chopped coriander leaves
To make the sauce, melt the ghee in a heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli until they begin to soften. Add the rest of the spices; continue cooking for a couple of minutes with a lid on to release the flavours, stirring every so often. Add the tomato purée, lemon and stock, bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove the large body shell from the crab by holding the legs with both hands and pushing the shell up with both thumbs. Scoop out any brown meat from the shell and add to the sauce. Remove the large claws and crack the shells a little to expose the meat. Remove the dead man's fingers from the main part of the body and cut the body into four with a heavy chopping knife.
Take a cupful of the sauce from the pan and blend in a liquidiser until smooth and pour it back into the sauce. Add the pieces of crab and simmer for 15 minutes, then add the coriander and simmer for a further 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with basmati rice.