In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Curry crab without dumplings.

trinidad curry crabThe traditional dish is Curry Crab with Dumplings when visiting Tobago, the sister island of Trinidad. However I’m a bit too lazy today to make dumplings, but I promise to post a recipe soon enough. It was about 3 years ago  we were in Tobago for a few days when at Store Bay getting ready to board a boat to go snorkeling, my sister got me some curry crab and dumplings to try. I must admit that it was a bad experience. Maybe it was the heat and the heavy dish or the curry was overdone, but it was not the same as I remembered as a young fella on the islands. There wasn’t that rich creamy, spicy.. lick your fingers taste that I grew up on.

Here’s a simple version of this famous dish on the sister island. I opted not to cook the curry as it would normally be done (instead I seasoned the crab with the curry… a bit milder taste) and the crab I’m using is what I could find here at the local Asian market. At least it was fresh. Normally we use the big fat blue crabs that’s found in the mangrove swamps on the islands.

You’ll need…

2 lbs crab cleaned and cut into pieces.
1 can coconut milk (165 ml / 5.6 fl oz)
1/2 med onion sliced
1/2 large tomato diced
1/4 habanero pepper – optional (use your fav hot pepper)
1 1/2 table spoon madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 scallion sliced
1 cup water
1 lime or lemon for washing the crab
1 tablespoon green seasoning
1/4 teaspoon geera (cumin)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Note: If you don’t have the green seasoning mixture, combine 1 tablespoon each of (chopped fine) – shado beni or cilantro, thyme, shallot, celery and Spanish type or oregano.

Let’s start by washing the pieces of crab (I cut each crab into 4 pieces) by using the juice of the lime and water (not the water mentioned in the recipe), then drain. I would highly recommend that you get the people at your fish market to remove the back and cut the crab for you as this can be a bit tricky when they’re trying to claw you. I love watching our daughters squirm as I take the crabs apart so I opted to do this step myself.

curry crab

cooking curry crab

Now using all the ingredients mentioned above, except the oil, water and coconut milk, season the crab and allow to marinate for a couple hrs in the fridge.

recipe curry crab

seasonings curry crab

tobago curry crab

Remove from the fridge about 15 minutes before cooking to bring back to room temperature. In a saucepan heat the oil on high, then try to get some of the onions, garlic, pepper and tomato from the bowl with the seasoned crab and cook it a bit in the hot oil. If you can get some of the curry liquid at the bottom of the bowl, add that as well. Allow this to cook for a few minutes, then add the whole lot of seasoned crab to the pot. Stir to coat all the pieces of crab with the curry sauce, bring to a boil, then cover the sauce pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.

how to cook curry crab

curry crab recipe

Allow this to cook for about 5 minutes, then raise the heat back to high to burn off all the liquid. After which, add the cup of water and bring back to a simmer. This should cook for another 5 minutes or so.simple curry crab recipe

curry crab and dumplins

Now add the coconut milk and again on a gentle simmer allow this to cook until the sauce is thick (covered sauce pan). Usually about 8 minutes. The coconut milk will make the curry very mild, so if you wish you can avoid the coconut milk and use more water for a stronger curry flavour. At the end you can top with some chopped cilantro for an extra punch of freshness.

spicy curry crab recipe

trini curry crab

Here’s a pic I took while visiting the San Fernando market of the blue crabs that’s traditionally used for curry crabs and dumplings. It’s claws are tied with the leaves of the coconut tree to prevent them from biting the customers.


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  1. Debbie
    May 26, 2016 / 4:26 pm

    I live in Trinidad and Tobago. I often see people season their goat,duck and in this instance crab using the raw curry powder. Curry being a raw product needs to be cooked for a certain amount of time before you add your vegs. or meat to it. This is how my Grand mother taught me and on the cooking channels in India they do it the same. you mix the curry powder with a little water to form a loose paste,you can add grated garlic and chadon beni to this,once the oil is hot you add this mixture and gently cook until looks grainy,then you add your vegs. or meat, and turn until coated,you add your coconut milk after the crab looks pink, make sure the water you dissolve the milk is warm so as not to lower the temperature,give it a good turn in the pot cover and let simmer,as the water is absorbed you keep turning your crab to get them all coated with this rich sauce till it’s done. Raw curry can irritate some people stomachs.and because it all into the raw crabs not every grain get cooks the same. Hope you try this method and tell me the difference. Debs

  2. chris
    October 21, 2015 / 10:13 am

    in Trinidad we make crab and dumpling with the hairy mangrove crab and make dumpling with grated cassava and wheat flour . the mangrove crab is more tasty than the blue sea crab

  3. Pat
    April 6, 2015 / 3:30 pm


  4. March 16, 2015 / 5:35 pm

    This recipe is awesome.
    Love the flavour. Keep trucking my friend.

  5. nikki
    February 4, 2015 / 9:51 pm

    Can you plzz show me how to make boiled and fried dumplings …..I love your tutorials

  6. Shawn DeCosta
    November 17, 2014 / 5:09 pm

    hi Chris, I’m from Guyana but residing in Houston, TX. You are doing a wonderful thing here with your recipes, I absolutely love it!!!!! keep up the good work. I espceially love the pics, nice touch…nothing like a visual!!!!!!

  7. Shelly
    July 8, 2014 / 1:37 pm

    Looks sooo..good!!!!!!!

  8. Krishna
    December 4, 2013 / 8:23 am

    Hi Chris,
    One of the things I do is use fresh ginger as an additional ingredient. For the amount of crabs in the recipe a thumb sized piece will be sufficient. I julienne it and then chop it up real fine. I add it to the hot oil and sautee for a few minutes to infuse the flavor then add the the onions, garlic and tomato and continue with the rest of the process. It gives the final result an additional burst of flavor.

  9. Webbs Lebrun
    November 28, 2013 / 11:07 pm

    Wow Chef, you did it again I have to try that dish this weekend. keep up the good work.


  10. Tarsh downunder
    October 30, 2013 / 9:50 pm

    hmmm looks awesome, i too love seafood. love all your recipes kep it coming Chris my bro:)

  11. Mervene
    March 4, 2013 / 2:49 pm

    love curry crab, Chris are you familiar with the hairy crab that was my favorite (curry )with cassava dumplings My mom( Indian God rest her soul) she even curry what they called chitterlings here Oh my goodness loved her curry whatever she curried was the best

  12. Angela
    December 25, 2012 / 11:53 am

    I'm from Jamaica and my husband is Trini. I tried this recipe and it was fabulous!! Thanks 🙂

  13. dee
    July 12, 2012 / 1:21 am

    Love it reminds me of the crabmarket in surinam . We ea sweett it wit rice. And we add potato or sweet potato to it. Funny how we have similaar food in the americas

  14. Zora
    June 10, 2012 / 4:29 pm

    Hi Chris, Thank you for the lovely recipes…I am originally from Guyana but living in the UK for nearly 40 years…love your crab and spinach it was delicious…next thing I am going to try is the Karela yummi …will let you know when I do cook it as it seems only I would enjoy it something I loved when we were living in Guyana…Thank you so much….Zora

  15. Kimberly
    May 18, 2012 / 3:14 pm

    I have been wanting to try this recipe for long and am finally trying it tomorrow! Whale soft-shell crabs on sale at local seafood market, soo excited! Thank you!

  16. Divina
    May 4, 2012 / 7:36 pm

    You’re the boss Chris! Mud Crab curry for lunch here today in OZ. Thanks so much for your recipes. We live by them here!

  17. Celia
    April 4, 2012 / 5:47 pm

    Hi Chris! This crab looks amazing. I will try it,because I love seafoods. Thank you.

  18. warner
    March 19, 2012 / 7:23 pm

    Hi Chris, just saw your curry crab, well i am not from Tobago, but where i am from we use to cook up this quit often since we live right by the sea and to catch all we needed was a piece of tree bark and a piece of meat, and before you know it we had our self a bucket of crab. thanks for the memory, those were the good old. this week-end i will be cooking this crab and dumpling

  19. lafleure
    March 6, 2012 / 4:29 pm

    hey Chris that crab looking finger licking good, i am so moving into your house, hope you have extra space, waiting for the dumplins

  20. rose
    November 6, 2011 / 1:30 pm

    Hi Chris ,Rose again i have a hard time finding seasoning pepper unless i send home for it do you know where i can purchase it in new york long island or Brooklyn.

  21. rose
    November 6, 2011 / 1:26 pm

    Hi Chris thanks for all your wonderful recipes,i enjoy making them and your picture instructions are the bomb,i recently went to a wake and they serve Salt fish which was made different to salt fish souse,and i enjoyed eating this recipe,so i am sharing it, adjust seasoning to amt of salt fish soaked, 1.scallions 2onion 3 green bell pepper 4 red bell pepper 5thyme 6 garlic 7seasoning pepper 8 oil rinse the salt fish and shred with hands , squeeze out excess water add some lime juice on salt fish and mix up with hand,add salt fish to saute seasoning with a little black pepper mix up together and serve.hope u try it if u have not already tried it, i also grew up having Conkie and calla loo,i don't know if you know the recipe for it ,it is made with cornmeal as i remember and wrap in coconut leaf.thank you again Rose,(recipe from a Guyanese) and thank u for the crab recipe.

  22. Kimmy
    July 21, 2011 / 2:36 pm

    I need to try this recipe asap! Just told my bf that I want to and he's like, "Pleeease do!" He loves curry crab. Thanks so much for all the recipes! 🙂

  23. Doonwati
    July 9, 2011 / 5:58 pm

    Chris, you may laugh at this but I use a hard tooth brush to scrub the crabs and a pair of scissors to trim their toenails. I bought these things especially for cleaning them and after it is stored safely for another time.

    • Chrissy
      March 28, 2012 / 4:08 pm

      Good one Doowati, groom the crab before cooking it. lol

  24. Alf G
    June 20, 2011 / 6:24 am

    Sorry Chris. I do not like shell fish; but guess many will enjoy your curry crab.

  25. ChelleBaby
    May 21, 2011 / 10:27 pm

    I LOVE IT!!!! And so did my husband and children…but I added dumplings as it reminded me of my Grannie. Thanks for posting this you are AWESOME! Keep 'em coming.

  26. Chris Sidifall
    October 15, 2010 / 8:26 am

    Chris, I made this last night and combined some head on shrimp in the mix. Can you say DELISH!! My friend from trinidad has complimented me on my curry chicken by licking his fingers after he ate and said" Man, You is a TRINI!!" I love it as I am as american as apple pie. I give you the credit my brother cause I check your tutorials before attempting most carribean dishes. Thanks Chris and keep those recipes coming…

  27. jumbieg
    September 27, 2010 / 9:19 pm

    lobster meat.. now that is something I must try. love the suggestion about crab meat as well.

  28. Dawn
    September 24, 2010 / 4:05 pm

    Last week I made Crab with Dumplin' using good-quality lump crab meat. Turned out great! Here in DC we can't find live crabs, but found a good substitute in the lump crab. Trying the same dish today with some lobster meat. It's bubbling on the stove as I type this. Wish me luck!

    • Rae
      November 28, 2010 / 8:12 pm

      Dawn, you can find live crabs at the warf on Maine ave, SW DC and in almost all Korean markets? Good luck!

    • Martin
      February 27, 2012 / 5:43 pm

      Hi Dawn. The waterfront in DC sells live crabs and is open most day. I picked up half a dozed today.

    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:18 pm

      poor crab can't survive in Bago.. restaurants have them running scared 🙂

  29. Brendon
    August 6, 2010 / 10:13 am

    Chris man! I'm loving this site!!! Next friday im having a lil get together to celebrate my friends! And one of the things i wanted to expose them too is ah good crab and dumpling boi! ah glad this here so i could get a refresher!!! i also didnt kno where to get the crabs here in Toronto so glad you mentioned an Asian market! I'll let yuh kno how it turns out!


    • jumbieg
      September 27, 2010 / 9:17 pm

      Nice.. I'm sure it was boss!

  30. Pamela
    May 18, 2010 / 5:54 pm

    Too Too Good. Curry crab is one of my favorites. Sometime I add a few potatoes and
    carrots to the recipe. Thanks Chris.

    • June 17, 2010 / 3:10 am

      Gotta try adding some potatoes as you suggested next time.

      • Chrissy
        March 28, 2012 / 4:05 pm

        The potatoes help to thicken the sauce, I normally add one (depending on the amount of crab). I find if I add more it takes away from the flavour of the crab. What I do differently from the recipe above, I fry the curry first. I don't mix it in the crab while seasoning because the coconut milk already makes the curry a bit mild (this way I still get that curry taste along with the coconut flavour) Love this site btw. You are making us "Trini" proud.

  31. Suzanne
    May 15, 2010 / 1:39 pm

    Great! Just what I was looking for. Thanks a lot. Suzanne. NL

    • June 17, 2010 / 3:09 am

      Don;t forget to keep coming back and trying some of the other recipes.

  32. Sue
    April 20, 2010 / 5:44 pm

    OMG. Thanks for the last photo of the blue crab. When I first went to Trinidad from the UK (age 10), my younger cousin from Canada and I would play with the crabs by touching their eyes. They would drop down. Those poor crabs, but they tasted great in crab callaloo!!

    • June 17, 2010 / 3:09 am

      Funny enough.. we did the same thing a skids.

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