Tobago Curry Crab and Dumpling

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

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

I am the Tobago girl, so I should definitely 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, cassava or cornmeal, and/or 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, then also make sure you check out my curry conch recipe. Another Tobago favorite.

Pot of tobago curry crab

We are a seafood island. I mean we are an island right?

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.

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 from 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.

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

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, then thawing out, throw the crabs in a bowl of water with some cut limes (squeeze some of the 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 to not mash up the bottom portion of the crab. THERE WILL BE GUNK

How to clean blue crab

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

Sometimes people use the backs for other dishes. These crabs I got, the backs were not that deep to be used. So straight to the trash.

Back off of blue crab

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

Blue crab 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 pieces halved, take a toothbrush to clean out any gunk that may be stuck in the crevices of the pieces. Wash out crab again and now it's ready to season up.

Batch of blue cleaned crab

Cleaning the crab is the hardest part.

Make sure you have a nice heavy pan that is wide. A dutch pot is one of the most basic essentials for a kitchen.

You get an even cook with them. Amazon has a few good ones.

You want a pot that is roomy. 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.

Cooking crab and dumpling

Like we do with most curry dishes, we add the curry to hot oil before we have the meat in. 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.

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.

Then it's done. And ready to be eaten with your dumplings.

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

You can have cassava dumplings or cornmeal, pumpkin, whole wheat, dasheen. So even though my recipe is just plain old flour dumplings, you are free to pair this with whichever version you prefer.

Just make sure they are nice and big. You gonna need to sap up that sauce.

Pot of cooked blue crab

Storage and reheating

If you have leftovers, you can put them in the fridge for the next day in an airtight container.

You can also freeze. If I plan to freeze I do so on the same day that I have cooked the crab. I don't put it in the fridge to sit.

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 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.

From frozen, place in the fridge to defrost overnight, then reheat with the above method.

Delicious plate of blue crab with flour dumplings


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: f 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 that they don't overcook.

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.

I would avoid using imitation crab meat for this.

Curry crab gundy

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

When in Tobago it is popularly sold at 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:

Seafood is your thing?

Check out some of my other seafood recipes:

Recipe for Tobago curry crab and dumpling


  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. Interesting blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your design.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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