Sri Lankan Recipe – Malay Chili Crab


Sri Lankan Recipe – Malay Chili Crab

Malaysian cuisine consists of cooking traditions and practices found in Malaysia, and reflects the multiethnic makeup of its population. The vast majority of Malaysia’s population can roughly be divided among three major ethnic groups: Malays, Chinese and Indians. The remainder consists of the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia, the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia, the Peranakan and Eurasian creole communities, as well as a significant number of foreign workers and expatriates.

As a result of historical migrations, colonisation by foreign powers, and its geographical position within its wider home region, Malaysia’s culinary style in the present day is primarily a melange of traditions from its Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and ethnic Bornean citizens, with heavy to light influences from Thai, Portuguese, Dutch, and British cuisines, to name a few. This resulted in a symphony of flavours, making Malaysian cuisine highly complex and diverse.

Because Peninsular Malaysia shares a common history with Singapore, it is common to find versions of the same dish across both sides of the border regardless of place of origin, such as laksa and chicken rice. Also because of their proximity, historic migrations and close ethnic and cultural kinship, Malaysia shares culinary ties with Indonesia, as both nations often share certain dishes, such as satay, rendang and sambal.

Street food – a cook preparing murtabak at a mamak stall 

Ingredients for curried crab:

  • 2 kg fresh meaty crab – cleaned and halved
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 sprigs curry leaves
  • 4 dried chillies, broken up
  • Cucumber slices to serve with crab – optional
  • 1 tsp halba seeds
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • 20 twin shallots, sliced
  • 4 cm piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 litre thick coconut milk extracted from 1/2 scrapped coconut

Spices to grind:

  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 20 dried chillies
  • 10 ripe chilli padi
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3 cm piece turmeric
  • 1 tbsp jintan manis


  1. Heat oil in saucepan. Fry firstly the shallots till golden brown, adding dried chilli, mustard seeds and halba, cinnamon and curry leaves.
  2. Meanwhile mix thoroughly the ground spices with coconut milk and salt, pouring this into the saucepan, stirring well.
  3. Add the crab and cook quickly over high heat until crab is cooked and dry.
  4. Pour lemon juice and serve


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