How to make tasty Tobago curry crab with dumplings

12.10.19 | Recipe by Renz

Sweet curry crab and dumplings are the official national dish of Tobago. This is a flavorful crab dish cooked down in a curry sauce with coconut milk and spices. And please don't forget to pair it with some dumplings.

Plate of curry blue crab with dumplings

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I can't believe I didn't have this recipe up and posted before.

I am the Tobago girl, so I should have had the fore-running Tobago dish recipe up already. Curry crab and dumpling is the must-have dish you need to get if you ever get to Tobago.

It's a bowl of delicious blue crab cooked down in a flavorful curry sauce. Then we pair it with some dumplings of any kind like flour, cassavacornmeal, and/or ground provision.

This is a no-spoon necessarily needed dish.

You may only need a spoon to slurp up the gravy. I've seen many people use their dumplings as a spoon.

This is an easy recipe for a flavorful dish that all crab lovers will be happy with.

And if you just love curried seafood, also make sure you check out my curry conch recipe, another Tobago favorite.

We are a seafood island.

From fish to crab and lobster and shrimp. And all the crustaceans in between. We stew, curry, and steam.

But our number 1 dish, is our curry, especially our curry crab and dumplings.

Though it has so many layers of flavor, it is really an easy dish to create.

Notes on ingredients for curry crab

We really layer a lot of flavors with this dish, again using fresh herbs and spices.

See the recipe card for the full list of ingredients and quantities.

  • Crabs - My go-to for this is blue crabs. Not only because it is the original crab we use at home, but the other types of crabs don't translate well in this dish. I would avoid or use it as a last resort king crab legs. Dungeness crabs are another option, but they are expensive.
  • Curry powder - Use your favorite curry powder. I like to use Chief curry for my crab.
  • Green seasoning - This marinade of fresh herbs can be made ahead of time using my recipe for green seasoning. 

Equipment for curry

Large metal pot/Dutch pot - You want a nice heavy pan that is wide. A Dutch pot is one of the most essentials for a kitchen. You get an even cook with them. You want a roomy pot. You want to have enough room in the pot so that all the crab fits in the sauce as it simmers and not just on top of each other.

Amazon has a few good ones.

How to make Trini-style curry crab

Making this dish takes a few steps for it to come together. We need to first get the crabs cleaned up. Then we can cook them. We also need to make the dumplings

How to clean blue crab?

I'm upset I forgot to take a pic of the whole crab before we started to clean it.

I bought the crabs whole AND alive at my local market. Sometimes you find them already killed and cleaned in packages. I was not lucky.

So here I was with a bag of live crabs wiggling around in my trunk while I drove home. I simply dropped them in my freezer. Death by freezing

Some people also boil them but I feel like that's pre-cooking.

After freezing, and then thawing out, throw the crabs in a bowl of water with some cut limes/lemons (squeeze some of the lemon juice in there too).

Now it's time to clean them up.

We need to take the backs off. There is a slot where the back meets the lower body. Like a slit. Generally in the area where the eyes are.

Poke your knife between there and wiggle the back backward. Kind of gently. Do not mash up the bottom portion of the crab.


A blue crab with the back taken off with hands with black gloves.

There's going to be some yucky there obviously. The backs are to be discarded.

Sometimes people use the backs for other dishes. For these crabs I got, the backs were too shallow to be used. So straight to the trash.

After the back is off, cut the whole crab into 2 pieces.

Blue crabs cleaned and cut in two.

You can add the now separated pieces back into the lime water, while you take the back of the rest of the crab. Once all the backs are off and the pieces halved, take a toothbrush to clean out any gunk that may be stuck in the crevices of the pieces. Wash out the crab again and now it's ready to season up.

Cleaning the crab is the hardest part.

Batch of blue cleaned crabs ready to be curried.

Cooking crab and dumplings

Like we do with most curry dishes, we add the curry to hot oil before we add the meat. Make sure you heat to medium. We want to make sure to warm up the spices and start to bring the flavor out before the meat is added.

Once the curry is grainy, we add the crab and get it coated in the toasted/roasted curry powder.

Then we add coconut milk, the best coconut milk is one made at home by the way, but canned can suffice.

Once the other seasonings are in, we are ready to simmer.

We use this simmering time for the sauce to thicken and for the flavors to get into the crab. A nice low and slow simmer on medium heat produces the best results.

If you want to get lots of sauce make sure you have enough liquid in there to simmer and also take it off the heat when completed.

Then it's done.

And your curried crab is ready to be eaten with your dumplings.

Pot of cooked blue crab in a large dutch pot.

Making the dumplings

Now I very much rather eat plain flour dumplings. It's my favorite. But there are so many other options.

So even though my recipe is just plain old flour dumplings, you are free to pair this curry with any type of boiled dumpling

Mix the flour and the water till you get a firm dough. Leave that to rest for a little.

Separate the large dough ball, into smaller dough balls. Put a pot of water to boil on medium-high heat. Add a little salt to the water and a little oil if you wish.

Take the dough balls and flatten them into discs either using your hand or a rolling pin. Drop them into the boiling water. Give them a little stir so that they don't stick together.

They will float to the top once done.


Using a curry paste: If you rather form a paste than burn the curry powder, then combine the powder, some green seasoning, and water and form a paste, then add that to the hot oil.

If you don't have coconut milk: If you don't have fresh coconut milk or canned, you can use coconut milk powder. Follow the instructions on the packet to match the amount listed in the recipe.

I can't find blue crab: If you can't find these, you can easily use substitutions. Snow crab legs can work easily. I would rather use them raw, but if they are already steamed just make sure they simmer for a little less time so they don't overcook.

Dungeness crab is another great substitute. But it is way more expensive.

One random time my friend used lump crab meat to curry because she could not find any crab legs. Cook the curry and sauce as usual. Make it thicken on its own, then add the meat. You don't want it to cook too much. It's the same type of crab I used to make the curry crab stuffed dumplings.

I would avoid using imitation crab meat for this.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of crab to curry

The best type of crab to use is a blue crab. It has a softshell and soaks up the seasoning from cooking well.

If you cannot find that type of crab anywhere, another substitute would be the snow crab but I must say it is not as nice. The sauce doesn't get into the meat at all.

I'm upset I forgot to take a pic of the whole crab before we started to clean it.

I bought the crabs whole AND alive at my local market. Sometimes you find them already killed and cleaned in packages. I was not lucky.

So here I was with a bag of live crabs wiggling around in my trunk while I drove home. I simply dropped them in my freezer. Death by freezing.
br />Some people also boil them but that's pre-cooking.

There's not much time there are leftovers for this signature dish. We are usually clamoring to see who gets the last end of gravy from the pot.

But if you happen to have some leftovers here is the best way to store them.

Place the leftover crab, along with the gravy in a container with a very tight lid. This can be placed in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Delicious plate of blue crab with flour dumplings.

How to freeze crab curry

Freezing is also another option. If I travel to Tobago and want to bring some curry crab up, we always freeze it to do so.

I cook the crab, then let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled all the way through, I put it into a container that has an air-tight lid and put it into the freezer immediately. I do not put it into the fridge at all.

I then wrap the frozen crab up in some foil, and then plastic bags when it is time to transport.

How to reheat curry crab

To reheat, you can reheat in the microwave, but the best method is to reheat on the stove.

If from the fridge, the next day, add to a deep pot and add some water (about a cup of water to start ) to the pot and bring to a medium boil. Cover and let it simmer till warmed through.

Add hot water sparkingly to make sure you have gravy. Stir occasionally.

If you are trying to do it from frozen, place the crab in the fridge to defrost overnight if possible, then reheat with the above method.

If you decide at the last minute and you want to reheat from the freezer, take the crab out and let it sit a little at room temperature.

Add the crab to a large pot, add water to the pot, and let it simmer on medium heat. While it's simmering, occasionally take a pot spoon and try to separate the ice pieces.

If you have any excess water and the crab is warmed up, turn up the heat to high so that it can help thicken and dry down the gravy.

Close up of a curry gundy in a grey plate with curry crab gravy.

This curry crab (or crab curry depending on where you are from) is the perfect liming dish.

When in Tobago it is popularly sold on beach sides (check out Miss Trim's at Store Bay). It's also a found being served at harvest time.

We don't pair this with anything. It is the whole meal. But you definitely should have something refreshing to pair it with.

Take a pick of one of these refreshing drinks:

And if seafood is your thing...

Check out some of my other seafood recipes:


  1. Hmm... pumpkin dumplings? Never seen that one... can you give us a recipe for that too?

    1. Sure. Anything to make some dumplings. Haha

  2. after first reading I thought it's gonna so difficult
    but the result is amazing and delicious
    thank you for making it much mire easier for me

    1. Thank you Rabato!! That's my goal, for me to figure it out and make it easier for others.

  3. Am from the island and longing to cook some fried fish curry do you have a recipes.

    1. Hi. I actually am redoing a fried curry fish tomorrow. I'm using this recipe I have.

  4. I am Jamaican and I had this dish visiting Trinidad for a wedding. Loved it! It was the crabmeat was out of the shell in the curry sauce- can I do this with store bought crabmeat?

    1. Ahh yes. That is the fancy way to do it so that people don't have to do plenty work and mess up their hands to eat while they dressed nice haha. Yes you can use store bought BUT I don't find it tastes as good haha. For that way I would make the sauce first and let that start to simmer down and thicken up then add the meat in to finish up.


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