Keralan Crab Cakes with Mint Chutney

Who doesn't love crab cakes? Padma Lakshmi made this recipe to meld a classic American dish with the hot and tangy flavors of her native Kerala. Since crab dishes are abundant in South Indian cuisine, the marriage is a happy one. She liberally uses hot green chiles, 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 amchur, don't despair. Add some lemon juice to the mixture instead. If you do this, you'll probably need less milk.

Kerlan Crab Cakes with Mint-Chutney
Photo: Charles Thompson
Active Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 40 mins


Crab Cakes

  • 1 pound crab meat, picked over

  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs, plus about 1 cup more for dredging

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup mayonnaise

  • 8 serrano chiles, unseeded and minced

  • 1 cup chopped chives

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

  • ½ cup shredded carrot

  • ½ cup finely diced celery

  • 2 teaspoons green mango powder or amchur (optional, see Note)

  • 1 cup sweet corn (fresh, canned, or frozen), drained

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling

  • ½ cup whole milk, as needed

  • Canola oil, for frying

Mint Chutney

  • 2 ½ cups packed fresh mint leaves

  • 1 serrano or Thai chile, stem removed

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • Salt, to taste


  1. Gently combine crab cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl, except milk and oil. Add milk, 2 tablespoons at a time; you may need a bit more or less than 1/2 cup to adhere ingredients into a thick, cohesive mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  2. Process mint chutney ingredients in a blender on low speed, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, to help blend the ingredients, if needed.

  3. Shape crab cake mixture into 12 patties, about 3 inches in diameter and 1-inch thick. Coat with additional breadcrumbs.

  4. Fill a large, deep skillet with 1/4 inch oil, and place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, 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 in batches, turning them over halfway through to brown on each side. Do not crowd the pan and use two spatulas to turn. Cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

  5. Lay the fried patties on a few paper towels to absorb excess oil. Season with salt. Serve hot, with mint chutney on the side.


Amchur is a light, sawdust-brown powder made of sun-dried green mangoes. It's a great souring agent when you don't want to add moisture to a dish. Found at most Indian grocery stores, it will keep in your pantry for ages.

Excerpted from Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day by Padma Lakshmi. Copyright © 2021. Available from Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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