Crab and Coconut Poriyal

Chef Paulraj Karuppasamy and Nellie Tischler of Santa Fe’s only South Indian restaurant, Paper Dosa, share with us a recipe for crab poriyal, a sweet and spicy sautéed Dungeness crab dish with curry leaves, coconut and layers of spices. It’s a fun, flavorful and interactive dish with a distinctly coastal vibe. And thanks to ButcherBox’s pre-cooked crab legs and claws, it all comes together very quickly.

Karuppasamy, a native of South India, met his wife and business partner, Tischler, in San Francisco before opening Paper Dosa in Santa Fe. Their goal was to open a fresh, seasonal and authentic South Indian restaurant—and, in 2015, they achieved it. With this recipe, Karuppasamy hopes to extend this culinary experience into your home.

ButcherBox’s Dungeness Crab Legs & Claws are fully cooked and partially cracked open, but having a set of crab leg crackers around will help you pull more meat out of the shells. A kitchen mallet also can come in handy here. If curry leaves are difficult to find, look for makrut lime leaves, which have a similar flavor profile.

Crab and Coconut Poriyal

5 from 2 votes
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Protein: Fish / Seafood
Cut: Dungeness Crab Legs & Claws
Diet: Dairy Free, Gluten Free
Course: Main Course
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 1/2 pounds ButcherBox Dungeness crab Crab Legs & Claws defrosted, pat dry
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chili
  • 10 fresh curry leaves plucked off the stems (you can substitute dried or thawed frozen curry leaves)
  • 3 large shallots finely chopped (about ⅓ cup)
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger optional
  • 2 Thai green chiles (Bird’s Eye Chiles) or 1 small serrano chili sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded fresh or dried unsweetened coconut 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt
  • 3 cups freshly cooked basmati rice
  • Lime wedges for serving
  • Chopped cilantro leaves and stems for serving


  • Cut the crab claw through the joint, creating two pieces. Cut each of the crab arms through one of the joints, creating two smaller pieces from each arm. If you don’t have crab crackers for serving, use a kitchen mallet to gently crack open more of the shell before sautéing, so it can soak up the mixture and be easier to pluck meat out later.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and red chili; cook until the mustard seeds start to sizzle, stir gently as the chili starts to puff up and lightly blister, about 1 minute.
  • Working in batches, carefully stir in the curry leaves (watch out, the coconut oil will pop and splatter). Once they start to crisp, after about 1 minute, add the shallots, ginger and green chiles. Sautée to cook, stirring often, until the shallots are very soft, almost jammy, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut, turmeric and coriander and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the crab pieces to the pan; season with salt. Toss in the mixture to coat and warm the crab legs thoroughly, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover until ready to serve. 
  • Serve the crab poriyal with the basmati rice and lime wedges. Garnish with cilantro. 
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