Keralan Crab Cakes

Who doesn’t love crab cakes? I know of no one. I made this recipe to meld a classic American dish with the hot and tangy flavors of my native Kerala. Since crab dishes are abundant in South Indian cuisine, the marriage is a happy one. I liberally use hot green chilies, but they can be reduced a bit to taste. The shredded coconut gives the dish a South Asian twist, and the dried mango powder adds sourness. If you don’t happen to have the amchoor, don’t despair. Add some lemon juice to the mixture instead. If you do this, you’ll probably need less milk. I sometimes use sumac powder as an alternative, too, but more about that later.

Recipe courtesy of Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet by Padma Lakshmi/Weinstein Books, 2007.

Keralan Crab Cakes

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    1 pound crab meat, shredded 1/2 cup finely diced celery
    1/2 cup dry bread crumbs 1 teaspoon amchoor (a light, sawdust-brown powder made of sun-dried green mangoes)
    1/2 cup flour 1 cup sweet corn, fresh, canned or frozen, drained
    3 serrano chilies, finely chopped 1 large egg, beaten
    1 cup chopped chives 1 teaspoon salt
    1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut 2 cups canola oil, for frying
    1/2 cup shredded carrot 1/4 cup milk


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    • 1

      Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl except the oil, milk, and chutney. Add the
      milk a bit at a time; you may need a bit more or less than 1⁄4 cup to adhere the ingredients into a thick cohesive mixture.

    • 2

      Form patties 3 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick.

    • 3

      Fill a deep skillet with 1⁄2 inch of oil and place it over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and simmering (test for readiness by dropping a loose kernel of corn into it—if the oil sizzles and tiny bubbles form around the kernel, the oil is ready), gently fry the patties, turning them over to brown on each side. Do not crowd the pan, and use 2 spatulas to turn.

    • 4

      Lay the fried patties on a few paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve hot.

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