Christine Stephenson is a friend of NOSHtrekker and a passionate, dynamic and committed woman. She shares her childhood memory of eating crab curry in Bangalore in 1978 and how she translates the experience today.
When I was a little girl in the 70’s, we used to live with my paternal grandparents in Bangalore near the East Railway Station.
My Aunt Margaret was a flight attendant based in Chennai (Madras for us old folk) and often flew across the southern parts of India passing through Bangalore. On her flights to Cochin, she would pick up a box of huge crabs, about 20 at a time, and we would get a phone call telling us to pick up a consignment of mud crabs from Movement Control at Bangalore Airport.
This story gets funny. On one flight, her colleague thought Margaret was being cruel to the crabs and cut the strings holding their claws to set them free. Mayhem ensued in the cabin with the ladies trying to get the crabs back into the box without the passengers finding out.
My siblings and I: Margaret, Karen, Misty and me. Roland in the front.
My grandmother, Dolly, was a renowned Anglo-Indian cook with a reputation all over Bangalore. My love for crab curry started with these Cochin mud crabs that she would turn into a curry. Their claws used to be the size of a man’s hand! My sisters and I would patiently wait for the curry to be cooked for lunch and the smells emanating from the kitchen had us drooling. One of the few times we got to eat with our hands, my best memory is having curry drip down to my elbows.
My way of eating crab curry is to pick the meat out and make a pile of it on the side of my plate. Protect that side from your big sisters who were only too happy to swipe your pile and shove it in their mouths before you could even blink, make little balls of rice and curry and swallow it down quick. The pièce de résistance was then savouring the crab meat. No one wanted to eat the little swimmer legs so us kids got the lot. It’s an art form to try and get the meat out of these swimmers.
I now make crab curry every time I manage to get some good-sized green crabs. Mud crabs tend to be too expensive, so I’ve stuck with sand crabs, which I personally feel are tastier and well worth the effort to get the crab meat out.
“Hurry burry spoils the curry,” as Dad says. So take your time when you want to eat a crab curry and only do so with friends who don’t mind eating with their hands.