Nandu Kuzhambu

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Published under: Crab
Discover the delightful blend of spices in Nandu Kuzhambu, a traditional South Indian crab curry. This mouthwatering dish promises a flavorful journey with every bite.

Nandu Kuzhambu is a traditional South Indian crab curry that combines soft-shelled crabs with a rich, spicy, and tangy sauce. The dish features tamarind paste, tomatoes, and a unique blend of spices, creating a robust flavour profile that pairs perfectly with rice. This recipe is perfect for seafood lovers looking to try something new and exciting from Tamil cuisine.

About the Recipe

Nandu Kuzhambu is a delightful culinary experience with its complex flavours and inviting aroma. This dish is a staple in Tamil Nadu, known for using fresh crabs cooked in tangy tamarind and tomato-based gravy. The freshly ground spice blend, featuring dried red chillies, coriander, and fennel seeds, adds a unique touch that elevates the dish. This recipe provides detailed steps to help you recreate this authentic South Indian delicacy at home. Enjoy it with hot steamed rice for a truly satisfying meal.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Nandu Kuzhambu stands out with its tantalizing tangy, spicy, and savoury flavours. The soft-shelled crabs absorb the rich gravy, giving every bite a burst of taste and aroma. This straightforward recipe delivers a complex and satisfying dish perfect for impressing guests or enjoying a special family meal. The combination of spices enhances the flavour and fills your kitchen with an irresistible fragrance, making cooking this dish a delightful experience.

Nandu Kuzhambu

Nandu Kuzhambu

Cooking Tips

To achieve the best results with Nandu Kuzhambu:

  1. Use fresh, soft-shelled crabs for a tender and flavorful dish.
  2. Ensure the spice powder is ground to a fine consistency to blend seamlessly into the gravy.
  3. Adjust the level of tamarind paste according to your taste preference, and add a bit more water if you prefer a thinner gravy.

Cultural Context

Nandu Kuzhambu hails from Tamil Nadu, where it’s a beloved dish often prepared for special occasions and family gatherings. It’s a prime example of South Indian coastal cuisine, reflecting the region’s abundant seafood and love for bold, spicy flavours. Traditionally, it’s enjoyed with rice, making it a hearty and satisfying meal.

Serving and Storing Suggestions

Serve Nandu Kuzhambu hot with steamed rice or idli for a complete meal. This recipe serves four and takes about 45 minutes to prepare and cook. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat gently on the stove to preserve the flavours.

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Nutrient Benefits

The ingredients in Nandu Kuzhambu offer several health benefits. Crabs are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit heart health. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, while garlic boosts the immune system. Tamarind is rich in antioxidants and can aid digestion.

Nandu Kuzhambu
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Nandu Kuzhambu Recipe

Discover the delightful blend of spices in Nandu Kuzhambu, a traditional South Indian crab curry. This mouthwatering dish promises a flavorful journey with every bite.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian


  • 4 Soft-Shelled Crabs (small)
  • 1/4 cup Onions (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 4 to 6 cloves Garlic (halved)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Tamarind Paste
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Sauce

For the Spice Powder:

  • 4 Dried Red Chillies
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 3 tsp Flaked Desiccated Coconut

For the Tempering:

  • 4 tsp Oil
  • 4 to 6 Curry Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds


  • Wash and cut the crabs, then set aside.
  • Blend the spice powder ingredients (dried red chillies, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and desiccated coconut) to a fine consistency.
  • Heat the oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the curry leaves, fennel seeds, and cumin seeds. Fry until the seeds are light brown.
  • Add the onions, tomatoes, and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent.
  • Stir in the turmeric powder.
  • Add the crabs and stir-fry gently for a minute or two.
  • Mix the ground spice powder, salt, tamarind paste, and tomato sauce.
  • Add 1 cup of warm water and cook for a few minutes until the gravy thickens.
  • Serve hot with rice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I clean and prepare soft-shelled crabs for Nandu Kuzhambu?

To prepare soft-shelled crabs for Nandu Kuzhambu:

  1. Rinse them thoroughly under cold water.
  2. Remove the apron (the flap on the underside) and cut off the face behind the eyes with kitchen shears.
  3. Remove the gills by lifting each pointed side of the top shell and pulling them away.
  4. Rinse again, and they will be ready to cook.

This cleaning process ensures the crabs are ready to absorb all the delicious flavours of the curry.

Can I use frozen crabs for Nandu Kuzhambu?

Frozen crabs for Nandu Kuzhambu are possible, but fresh crabs are recommended for the best flavour and texture. If you use frozen crabs, ensure they are fully thawed and appropriately cleaned before cooking. Fresh crabs offer a more tender and succulent texture, enhancing the dish’s overall taste.

What can I serve with Nandu Kuzhambu?

Nandu Kuzhambu is traditionally served with steamed rice, which helps balance the curry’s rich and spicy flavours. Pair it with idli or dosa for a delightful South Indian meal. Additionally, a side of simple vegetable stir-fry or cooling raita can complement the meal nicely, adding variety to your dining experience.

How can I adjust the spice level in Nandu Kuzhambu?

To adjust the spice level in Nandu Kuzhambu:

  1. Modify the number of dried red chillies used in the spice powder.
  2. Reduce the number of chillies or remove the seeds before grinding for a milder version.
  3. Add extra chillies or a pinch of red chilli powder if you prefer it spicier.

Tasting as you go will help you achieve the desired heat level.

Can I make Nandu Kuzhambu in advance?

Yes, you can prepare Nandu Kuzhambu in advance. The flavours often deepen and improve after sitting for a few hours or overnight. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat gently on the stove before serving, and add a little water if the gravy has thickened too much. This makes it a convenient option for meal prepping or entertaining.

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