Whether it’s stuffed into a samosa, tossed in a crisp cold salad, or fried into a cake, enjoying crab is a no-brainer. This warm bubbly crab dip combines the best of good South Indian cooking and can become a lovely party appetizer. Serve it with warm bread, small dosas, naans, rotis, or parathas.
Garam masala, which literally translates to “warm spice blend” (meaning heating for the body) is the one masala that most Indian kitchens have tucked away in a cabinet. The recipes and proportions can vary wildly, but they will all possess a large amount of aromatic spices. Some will contain coriander and cumin. I prefer to leave it to aromatic spices, like the ones here, which adds a delicious heady finish to foods.
Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices by Anita Jaisinghani is available to order now.
Coconut Crab Dip
- 1 pound fresh jumbo crabmeat
- ½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
- ½ cup coconut milk
- juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 15 to 20 kari leaves
- 8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 cups sliced leeks, white and green parts
- 1 teaspoon red chile powder
- 1 cup canned ground tomatoes, or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon garam masala, see recipe below
- ¼ cup green cardamom pods
- 6 large cinnamon sticks
- 5 star anise pods
- 5 black cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon whole cloves
- 4 whole mace flowers
- 1 whole nutmeg
- fresh herb sprigs for garnish
- dosas, uthappams, naan, or crusty bread for serving
- In a large bowl, gently combine the crabmeat with the grated coconut, coconut milk, lemon juice, and salt and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over high heat. Pop the mustard seeds, then add the kari leaves and cook for a couple of seconds. Immediately add the garlic and leeks, decrease the heat to medium-high, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the leeks are translucent. Lower the heat; add the red chile powder, tomatoes, and salt; and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the fat in the masala has risen to the top or to the edges, it is an orange red in color, and thick, chunky, or semidry. The time will vary based on the water content of the tomatoes. If the tomatoes start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a few tablespoons water. Turn the heat off and stir in the garam masala.
- Spread the tomato masala evenly on the bottom of a baking dish. Place the coconut-crab mixture on top, letting the edges of tomato masala peek out. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until bubbly, and top with fresh herb springs. Serve with a crispy dosa, uthappams, naan, or crusty bread.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Spread them on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool and grind in a coffee grinder to a powder.
Reprinted with permission from Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices by Anita Jaisinghani, copyright © 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.