Flavour of the seas

Goan Crab Masala is a popular, spicy Goan seafood dish that dates back to the time when the Portuguese ruled the state. Make this super dish at home.


By Foodie

Crab Masala is a delicious spicy Goan style crab preparation. Crabs are cooked in a spicy curry made from onion and tomato in a spicy coconut-based curry. Serve this with rice, rotis or bread. The dish is known for its spicy and tangy flavours, and it is usually served with steamed rice or bread.

The main ingredient of the dish is crab, which is cooked in a spicy masala made with a combination of various spices, onion, tomato, and tamarind pulp. The dish gets its unique flavour from the use of Goan red chilli powder, which is made from a specific variety of chilli peppers grown in the state.

To make Goan crab masala, the crab is first cleaned and chopped into pieces. The masala is then prepared by sautéing onions, ginger-garlic paste, and green chillies in oil until the onions are translucent. Chopped tomatoes are added next, and the mixture is cooked until the tomatoes are soft and mushy. A combination of spices like turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and garam masala powder is added to the masala and cooked for a few minutes.

Once the masala is ready, the chopped crabs are added to it along with tamarind pulp and salt. The mixture is then cooked covered until the crabs are fully cooked and the masala has blended well with the crab. Water can be added to adjust the consistency of the gravy.

Spicy crab masala is one of the delicious Indian crab recipes. Different Indian spices like coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds (methi), black peppercorns, cloves and dry red chillies are roasted along with grated coconut and ground together. This is then made into a thick, smooth gravy. Onion and tomatoes are sauteed, then the gravy is mixed and simmered. Finally, marinated crabs are added and simmered till the crabs are cooked.


The history of Goan Crab Masala is closely tied to the history of Goa, a coastal state in western India. Goa was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years, and the Portuguese influence on the state’s cuisine is evident even today.

Seafood has always been an important part of Goan cuisine, and the use of spices is a hallmark of the region’s culinary traditions. The masala used in Goan crab masala, with its blend of spices and tangy tamarind pulp, is a reflection of the region’s rich culinary heritage.

Crab was likely added to the dish much later, once it became popular as a seafood delicacy in the region. Today, Goan crab masala is a popular dish served in many Goan restaurants and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

Over the years, the recipe for Goan crab masala has evolved, with variations introduced by different cooks and families. However, the basic ingredients and flavours have remained consistent, making it a much-loved dish across generations.

Overall, Goan crab masala is a testament to the rich history and culture of Goa, and its unique blend of flavours and spices is a reminder of the region’s diverse culinary traditions.


For the curry

Coconut: Freshly grated coconut is used in making this delicious crab recipe. You can also use coconut milk. Just roast the spices and grind them. Add them to coconut milk and use it to make crab curry in coconut milk.
Vegetables: Onion and tomato are the vegetables used in making this delicious Goan crab recipe. I have used red onion in this recipe.
Garlic: 5 garlic pods or 1 tablespoon minced garlic is used in this recipe for flavour.
Spices: Coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds black peppercorns, cloves, dry red chillies and tamarind are the spices used in this recipe. They are roasted and ground before adding it to the curry.
Garam masala: Little bit of garam masala can be added to the recipe. This is an optional ingredient as we have added powdered whole spices.

Prep Time : 10 mins
Cook Time :25 mins

  • Ingredients

    For marinating the crabs:

    -1 teaspoon red chili powder
    -1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    -1/4 teaspoon salt
    -2 crabs

    For the curry:

    -1 cup grated coconut
    -1 medium sized onion
    -1 medium sized tomato
    -5 garlic pods
    -1 teaspoon coriander seeds
    -1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
    -5 black peppercorns
    -2 cloves
    -3 dry red chillies
    -1- inch piece of tamarind
    -1 teaspoon garam masala
    -Salt to taste


    Cut and wash the crabs and marinate with the masala meant for marination and keep aside for 30 minutes

    For the curry:
    -In a kadai/wok, fry half of the chopped onions and when they turn pinkish, add the dry masala consisting of coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, peppercorns and cloves. Roast for 5 minutes on low heat.
    -Add garlic and fry till the raw smell of garlic goes away.
    -Add grated coconut and fry till it becomes brownish.
    -Add tamarind and switch off the gas/heat.
    -After cooling, grind this by adding 1 cup or sufficient water needed to grind it into a thick smooth gravy.
    -To a kadai/wok, add 1 teaspoon oil and fry chopped onions. When they turn pinkish add chopped tomato and sauté till tomatoes turn mushy.
    -Add the marinated crabs and fry for some time (2-3 minutes).
    -Pour the ground masala curry over the crabs and mix the gravy with the crabs.
    -Let the crabs get cooked nicely for 15 minutes in the gravy.
    -Adjust salt and switch off the heat.