For seafood lovers, crab is synonymous to joy. Crab masala fry is a fragrant medley of spices and aromatics. Its spicy punch makes this dish all the more delicious.
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup), divided
• 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
• 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
• 1 whole small dried red chili• 5 whole black peppercorns
• 2 whole cloves
• 1 inch piece of ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
• 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 1 cup tomato puree
• 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
• 2 medium-sized crabs, cleaned and cut into half
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
• Cooked rice or flatbread for serving
• Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat until shimmering. Add 1 tablespoon chopped onion, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dried chili, peppercorns, cloves, ginger, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, for about 5 minutes.
• Turn off the heat and add fennel seeds. Stir to mix through. Immediately transfer to the bowl of a blender or mortar and pestle and blend/pound until a fine paste is formed, scraping down sides as necessary.
• Wipe out saucepan with a paper towel and add remaining oil. Heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the remaining onion. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, for about 6 minutes. Add the tomato puree, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add turmeric powder and the ground spice paste. Stir well to combine and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil separates and starts surfacing.
• Add a few drops of water if the paste tends to stick or get too dry. Remember, this is the deshi way to cook crab, so add the ingredients and water in such a way that truly brings out the deshi tarka.
• Add the crab and salt. Spoon some of the sauce over the crab to coat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid, stir, and continue to cook for 10 minutes, spooning the sauce over the crabs occasionally. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve immediately with rice or bread.