Crab Chilau Recipe

Discover the Spicy Splendor of Crab Chilau: Dive into a Coastal Culinary Adventure with Our Irresistible Recipe!

Crab Chilau

    Crab Chilau

  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Category: Main Course, Seafood
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 300 calories

Crab Chilau is a delectable seafood dish that boasts a rich and spicy flavor profile. It's a culinary treasure with origins deeply rooted in the coastal regions of East Africa, particularly in places like Zanzibar, where it has been enjoyed for generations.

This dish is characterized by its luscious tomato-based sauce that's infused with a tantalizing blend of spices. It strikes a perfect balance between heat and savory flavors, making it a favorite among those who appreciate a bit of spice in their cuisine. The key ingredients include fresh crab, onions, bell peppers, garlic, and tomatoes, which all come together to create a robust and aromatic sauce.

The preparation of Crab Chilau involves sautéing aromatic vegetables, adding a medley of spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, and coriander, and then simmering the crab in this flavorful concoction. The result is tender, succulent crab meat that has absorbed the essence of the spicy tomato sauce.

Crab Chilau is often served with a side of rice or crusty bread, which helps to soak up the savory sauce. Lime wedges and fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley are used as garnishes, adding a refreshing contrast to the bold flavors of the dish.

This dish not only showcases the culinary diversity of the region but also pays homage to the abundant seafood found along its coastlines. Whether enjoyed by the seaside or in the comfort of your home, Crab Chilau is a delightful culinary journey that captures the essence of coastal East African cuisine.


Indulge in a Flavorful Journey: Our Crab Chilau Recipe Delivers Spice & Savory Delights. Try It Today!


  • 2 lbs (about 907 grams) of crab, cleaned and cracked
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust for your preferred spice level)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup seafood or chicken broth
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
  • Lime wedges for serving

Method Instructions

  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet or pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper. Sauté until they become soft and translucent.
  3. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down and become saucy.
  5. Sprinkle in the paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine the spices with the tomato mixture.
  6. Pour in the seafood or chicken broth and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let it cook for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken slightly.
  7. Gently add the cleaned and cracked crab to the sauce. Cover the pot and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until the crab is fully cooked. The shells will turn pink when they're done.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. If you prefer it spicier, you can add more cayenne pepper.
  9. Serve the Crab Chilau hot, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley, and lime wedges on the side. It's great with rice or crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
  10. Enjoy your homemade Crab Chilau! If you have any questions or need more details, feel free to ask.

Recipe Video

Crab Chilau

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Recipe Tags: Crab Chilau, Crab Chilau Recipe, Recipe


Serving Crab Chilau is a delightful experience that enhances the enjoyment of this flavorful dish. Here's how to serve Crab Chilau:

  1. Main Dish: Crab Chilau is typically served as the main course of a meal. It's the star attraction on your dining table.
  2. Plate or Bowl: You can serve Crab Chilau on individual plates or in deep bowls, depending on your preference and the presentation style you prefer.
  3. Rice or Bread: Crab Chilau pairs wonderfully with rice, especially steamed or fragrant basmati rice. Alternatively, you can serve it with crusty bread, which is perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce. Place a generous scoop of Crab Chilau on a bed of rice or alongside some bread.
  4. Garnishes: To enhance the flavors and aesthetics, garnish the dish with fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley. These greens provide a pop of color and freshness to the dish. You can also place a lime wedge on the side for a hint of citrusy zing. Squeezing a little lime juice over the crab can be a delightful addition.
  5. Side Salad: For a well-rounded meal, consider serving a simple side salad with fresh greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes. A light vinaigrette dressing can complement the richness of the Crab Chilau.
  6. Utensils: Provide diners with a fork or crab crackers to easily extract the tender crab meat from the shells. Additionally, a napkin or wet wipes can be handy as this can be a messy, yet enjoyable, hands-on meal.
  7. Beverages: Pair your Crab Chilau meal with a refreshing beverage of your choice. This could be a chilled glass of white wine, a cold beer, or even a tropical fruit juice for a non-alcoholic option.


  1. Choose Fresh Crab: The key to a delicious Crab Chilau is using fresh crab. Look for crab that is plump and has a sweet aroma. If live crabs are available, that's even better for the freshest taste.
  2. Crab Preparation: Make sure to clean and crack the crab properly before adding it to the sauce. Removing any shells or cartilage will ensure a smoother dining experience.
  3. Adjust Spice Levels: The spiciness of Crab Chilau can be adjusted to your liking. If you prefer it milder, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper or paprika. Conversely, if you love heat, feel free to increase these spices.
  4. Use Quality Spices: Fresh and high-quality spices can significantly elevate the flavor of your dish. If possible, grind whole spices just before using them for the best taste.
  5. Simmering Time: Allow the crab to simmer in the sauce long enough for it to absorb the flavors. This will result in a tastier and more tender crab meat. However, be careful not to overcook the crab, as it can become tough.
  6. Garnish Creatively: While cilantro, parsley, and lime wedges are traditional garnishes, you can get creative with your garnish choices. Sliced green onions, chopped fresh mint, or even some toasted coconut flakes can add interesting textures and flavors.
  7. Serve with Sides: Consider serving Crab Chilau with sides like steamed vegetables, coconut rice, or naan bread for a complete meal experience.
  8. Be Mindful of Mess: Eating crab can be messy, so provide guests with ample napkins or wet wipes. If you're concerned about spills, you can also place newspapers or disposable tablecloths on the dining table for easy cleanup.
  9. Experiment and Enjoy: Feel free to experiment with the recipe to make it your own. Add vegetables like okra or bell peppers for extra depth, or even some coconut milk for a creamy twist.
  10. Share and Enjoy: Finally, Crab Chilau is best enjoyed with family and friends. It's a dish that encourages communal dining and sharing stories while savoring the flavors of the coast.

Ingredient Substitutes

If you don't have access to some of the ingredients for Crab Chilau or if you're looking for substitutions, here are some alternatives you can consider:

  1. Crab: If fresh crab is not available, you can use pre-cooked crab meat or even substitute with other seafood such as shrimp or lobster. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly as these may cook faster than fresh crab.
  2. Seafood or Chicken Broth: If you don't have seafood or chicken broth on hand, you can use water as a substitute. To enhance the flavor, you can add a bouillon cube or use vegetable broth if you have it.
  3. Bell Pepper: If you're out of bell peppers or prefer a different flavor, you can use other types of peppers like poblano or Anaheim peppers. They will add a unique twist to the dish.
  4. Fresh Tomatoes: If fresh tomatoes are not in season, canned diced tomatoes can be used as a substitute. Just make sure to drain them before adding to the recipe.
  5. Spices: If you're missing some of the spices, you can get creative with substitutions. For example, smoked paprika can replace regular paprika for a smoky flavor. Red pepper flakes can be used instead of cayenne pepper for heat. Cumin and coriander powders can be swapped with garam masala for a different spice profile.
  6. Tomato Paste: If you're out of tomato paste, you can use tomato sauce or even ketchup as a replacement. Keep in mind that ketchup is sweeter, so adjust the sugar and spice levels accordingly.
  7. Vegetable Oil: Any neutral cooking oil like canola, sunflower, or grapeseed oil can be used instead of vegetable oil.
  8. Garnishes: Feel free to use different fresh herbs like basil or mint if cilantro or parsley is unavailable. Lemon wedges can be used in place of lime wedges for a citrusy touch.
  9. Rice or Bread: If you don't have rice, you can serve Crab Chilau with other grains like quinoa or couscous. Crusty bread can be replaced with naan, pita, or any bread of your choice.


As you savor each spicy, succulent bite of Crab Chilau, you've embarked on a gastronomic voyage. We hope it was a journey worth taking. Bon appétit!

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