King Crab Tikka Masala with Coconut, Papaya and Mango

Star chef Grant Achatz gives his rich, warmly spicy tikka masala a hit of fresh fruit flavor with a papaya-and-mango topping. Slideshow: More Crab Recipes 

Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 1 lemongrass stalk—tender inner white bulb only, crushed and cut into 3-inch pieces 

  • 7 cardamom pods, crushed

  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick 

  • 1 cup ghee or clarified butter 

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped 

  • 3 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger 

  • 6 garlic cloves, minced 

  • 2 tablespoons garam masala

  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric 

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander 

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika 

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne 

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste 

  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, tomatoes crushed by hand, juices reserved 

  • Three 13.5-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk 

  • 8 large king crab legs, shelled, meat cut into 3-inch pieces 

  • Kosher salt 

  • 1 ripe mango (1 pound)—peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped 

  • 1 ripe papaya (1 pound)—peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped 

  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish 

  • 1/2 cup chopped mint, plus sprigs for garnish 

  • 1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced 

  • Steamed rice and limes wedges, for serving 


  1. Tie the lemongrass, cardamom and cinnamon stick in a piece of cheesecloth.

  2. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the ghee. Add the onions, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika and cayenne and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the lemongrass bundle along with the crushed tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook uncovered until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes.

  3. Stir the crabmeat into the casserole, season with salt and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Top with the mango, papaya, chopped cilantro, chopped mint and chile. Garnish with cilantro and mint sprigs and serve hot with rice and lime wedges.

Make Ahead

The tikka masala can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat before proceeding.

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