As the name suggets - Chettinad food is from the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu, a state in Southern India. My knowledge about this cuisine is minimal - but, I love the flavors and the pungent taste and the aromas that it brings. This may not be the most authentic Chettinad food - but, this is how I developed the flavors based on the crab curry that we had from a seafood joint here in NJ called Arusuvai.Chettinad food is generally consumed with rice or with rice based stuff like dosas, appams or adais. However, at Arusuvai we were served this kind of curry with Lacha Paratha and hence we like it like that.
This reminded me of Mahesh Lunch Home and Gajalee back home in my amazing town called Bombay (I refuse to call her Mumbai)
We loved this stuff and hope you like what you see and what you make at home too.
1 pound crabs - I used about 2 snow crabs here
1/2 cup sliced onions
10 cloves garlic
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 TBS coriander seeds
1 Tsp Peppercorns
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 Tsp Tamarind Paste (I get concentrated paste at the store)
6 dry kashmiri chilis (you can use more to get more heat)
2 TBS coconut oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
1 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1/2 Tsp Garam Masala Powder
20 Curry Leaves
4 green chilis - slit in the middle
Salt to taste
Cilantro for Garnish
Crabs need to be used immediately after cleaning - so we make the masala first and then do the rest.
In a Big Karahi or Wok - dry roast the coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon and kashimiri chilis. Once they leave an aroma add 1 TBS Coconut oil and add the 1/2 cup sliced onions along with the 10 cloves of garlic (chopped). Fry till the onions turn a nice golden brown. Add the shredded coconut and let the mixture mix well and saute till you get the aroma of roasted coconut. Take it off the flame add the tamarind paste and let it cool. Once cooled down - grind it to a fine paste adding very little water just to ease the grinding process.
Wash and Clean the crabs and let them sit on a plate. In the same Wok or Karahi add the other 1 TBS coconut oil. When the oil gets hot add the curry leaves and the slit green chilis and in about 10 seconds add the onions and saute till they turn transparent. To this add the turmeric powder, chili powder, garam masala powder and mix well. Add the ground masala mixture and mix well. If you feel that the mixture is too thick add just about 1/4 cup water and salt to taste and mix well. Add the crabs and cover each crab piece with the masala mixture. Cover and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. Once the shells of the crab turn a nice orange you now crab is cooked.
If the masala is watery - just heat the mixture uncovered for another 2 to 5 minutes.
Garnish with chopped Cilantro and serve hot with Parathas and salad.
If you are anything like us - you will not have parathas or rice - just plain crab chettinad along with salad.