The drive from Puri to Konark always beckons for a session of seafood. Crab is one of the best shellfish you could wish for and must dish on the dining table: Crab is one of the crustaceans, which gives a real pleasure to relish – especially if cooked in the right process Umami tingles in your taste. That too cooked in typical Odiya style.
Prelude: Mud Crab is also known as Mangrove Crab, Muddy and Black Crab. The Chilika varieties have Mottled Green, Greenish, Dark Brown or Greenish Black. What we normally get in the market are the cultured and harvested ones. The areas where it is cultured are in the district of Ganjam, Bhadrak and Kendrapada. The Mud crabs are large crabs with a smooth, broad carapace. Its moist meat, mostly found in the body and claws, has a marvelous distinct and sweet flavour. Mr. Swadesh Sarangi, head of a retail chain Seafood stores and Mr. Rajeev Swain Director of a Hotel chain specialised in Odiya cuisine opined that the real taste is found in the Chilika variety. Taste wise – the male crab aka Jimmy has more quantity of meat and is tasty, but the edge of the taste is that of the female crab aka Sally but quantity of meat is less. In addition live females have red tipped claws and the males have blue tipped claws. The Crab can vary from 250 grams to 1200 grams. To have a real go the best size is to go for more than five hundred grams.
We stopped at one of the resort and the Executive Chef Sunil Panigrahi promised to treat us the best crab dish in Odia style. We ordered a large Crab, which had the sweetish tinge and lovely flavours of the spices – well defined. It had the finesse and the signature of the Chef all the way. The sweetness of the crab was retained, loved the taste, gravy was excellent; it was intense, spicy, hot and good. The Chef was kind enough to share the recipe:
The ingredients: Crab, Potato, Onion, Bay leaf, Ginger Garlic paste, Coriander and Cumin powder, Chilly Powder, Turmeric Powder, Mustard Oil, Salt as per taste and water as per requirement.
Method: Get the crabs cleaned, potato cut to medium sized cubes. Put oil in a pan and fry the potatoes for about 5 minutes on medium heat, till they turn golden brown. Take them out and keep aside. Heat the remaining oil in the same pan and add diced onions and bay leaf. Stir fry for about a minute. Add the ginger garlic paste and powdered masalas. Mix well keep the heat on medium. In about 5 minutes the masala would have cooked nicely and the pungency of the ginger garlic paste would have gone. Add salt to taste. Add in about a cup and half of water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the gravy starts boiling, dip in the sautéed potatoes and the crab. Mix it all nicely and reduce the heat to low medium.
Cover it and let it simmer for about ten minutes – the crabs need to get cooked and also the gravy needs to get deep into it. Keep stirring in between, but carefully making sure that you are turning the crab slowly. Even the potatoes are semi-cooked so they might break. Sprinkle the garam masala and serve hot with rice.