This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Tamil Feasts' Unforgettable Crab Curry

Food

Throughout July we’re sharing a series of incredible Sri Lankan recipes by Tamil Feasts (விருந்து). This brilliant Melbourne-based social enterprise is supporting recently-settled asylum seekers through the celebration of food and culture.

The feasts, held at The Merri Table, are all prepared by Tamil men currently seeking asylum in Australia. Established in May 2015, the initiative provides an opportunity for the chefs to share the food heritage of their homeland with the wider community, who can, in turn, show their support while enjoying some deliciously authentic fare!

Chefs Niro, Nirma and Nigethan became friends while they were living in detention in Broadmeadows. Following six-and-a-half years in detention, Nirma was released, but struggled to find work. Encouraged by CERES hospitality teacher Dori Ellington and the community, he decided to cook a feast. This event was a huge success and the initiative evolved into weekly, vegetarian feasts. These quickly began to book up, and so, when Niro was released, they started catering more frequently (plus playing more Tamil love songs!). When Nigethan were released, the menu expanded to include seafood and meat, and increased to the current three nights per week!

Today, Nigethan shares his spectacular Crab Curry with us. As show-stopping as this dish looks, he assures us it’s pretty simple to make!

3rd July, 2018

Tamil Feasts‘ chefs preparing a meal for an event. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The Tamil Feasts team: chefs Niro, Nirma, project coordinator Emma McCann, and chefs Richman and Nigethan. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The hero ingredient: blue swimmer crabs! Surface from The Establishment Studios and napery from Mr Draper. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Niro in the Kitchen at The Merri TablePhoto – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Nigethan from Tamil Feasts‘ impressive Crab Curry. Surface from The Establishment Studios and napery from Mr Draper. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli. Styling Assistant – Ashley Simonetto.

Nigethan
Tuesday 3rd July 2018

‘We have many volunteers who come in and help, and many have become close friends’ – Nigethan.

I do most of the menu planning and ordering at Tamil Feasts. Each day, we have a discussion about what the menu is for that night and how many people we need to cook for. I often speak to my wife who is in Sri Lanka to ask her for advice on the recipes.

We cook up different curries, dahl, salad, rice, chutney, sambal and of course, the favourite, pappadums. We are very busy all night serving and meeting people. We have many volunteers who come in and help, and many have become close friends!

This crab curry is great for dinner or lunch – we typically have a big lunch in Sri Lanka but in Australia, I think this one might be better for dinner!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 blue swimmer crabs, cleaned
1 large red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cardamom pods
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
5 fresh curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp mild curry powder
2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp turmeric
1 tin coconut milk
2 tbsp tamarind
salt to taste

Method

Heat oil in a large stock pot, over high heat.

Add the mustard seeds, cumin, fennel, garlic, cardamom pods, onion – cook for a couple of minutes until the onion has softened.

Add the fresh curry leaves, cinnamon stick, then the curry powder, half of the cumin powder and turmeric. Season with salt.

Stir well and then pour in the coconut milk.

Add the cleaned crabs and cover with a lid. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tamarind and ½ a cup of water and allow to soak, before squeezing together in your hand to extract the juice.

Add the tamarind liquid (not pulp) and remaining cumin powder and turmeric.

Cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve with rice, and a cold beer!

 

How can you support Tamil Feasts?

‘Come along and enjoy a delicious feast, bring your friends, meet the guys and welcome them into the community! Sign up to volunteer and learn how to make the best curry in town,’ welcomes project coordinator Emma McCann.

‘Each night one of the men will share their own personal stories with our diners. They also love visiting tables and chatting with people about everything and anything. Through food and sharing their stories, they are breaking down barriers.’

Run by not-for-profit CERES, Tamil Feasts are very popular and bookings are essential. Check out the website for more information.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Food

Spice Mama · Beetroot and Ginger Curry

Spice Mama, aka Shaheen Hughes, shares a vibrant vegetarian recipe inspired by her Indian heritage.
Shaheen Hughes and Sultana Shamshi

Food

Free to Feed · Felafel

Persian recipes from Hamed Allahyari of Free to Feed, a new asylum seeker cooking project in Melbourne.
Hamed Allahyari and Julia Busuttil Nishimura of Free to Feed

Food

Spice Mama · Coconut Fish Curry

Passionate Indian cook Shaheen Hughes of the hit Perth-based blog, Spice Mama, shares the first recipe in a month-long menu inspired by her
Shaheen Hughes and Sultana Shamshi

This Week

Giveaway

Our Sustainable Summer Edit + Giveaway!

WIN our edit of summer essentials, made from organic, sustainable, biodegradable materials, recycled plastic, and even ocean waste! In partn...

Shopping

All Your Retro Dreams Realised!

Tamara Watts of Retro Print Revival celebrates 10 years of vintage-inspired wares, and shares her latest collection inspired by earthy 80s a...
Miriam McGarry
  15 hours ago

Studio Visit

In The Studio With Anna Varendorff

We catch up with a Melbourne design legend, ahead of her inclusion in our end of year group show, Art & Artefact!
Miriam McGarry
  Less than an hour ago

Sustainable Homes

A Dream Off-Grid Retreat

The Elemental House in High Camp by Ben Callery Architects is a cosy weekender, designed with sustainability in mind.

Homes

A Truly WHOA Warehouse Conversion!

Shirin Pulitano of Dot Dot Dash Events Agency shares her stunning family home in North Melbourne, renovated with the help of Ha Architecture...
Lucy Feagins
  24 hours ago

Dream Job

Beatrice Preston Zly, Product Packaging Designer at Aēsop

The RMIT graduate shares how hard work, passion and preparation helped her land her dream job at the iconic Australian brand!

News

The Ko's Christmas Market In Geelong

A one-stop Christmas shopping event in Geelong on December 13 and 14th, complete with fashion, jewellery, gardening, ceramics, food, music,
Sasha Aarons

Creative People

Get Your Goals In Check, With These Original Artworks By Beci Orpin x kikki.K

kikki K has teamed up with the legendary Melbourne artist to create three original artworks based on new year's goals. Here's how you can wi...

News

Share The Cheer With ‘Cake + Kindness’ Christmas Edition!

The wonderful Merchant Road Events, La Marzocco Home and Market Lane Coffee are coming together December 7 for a bake sale that supports wom...
Miriam McGarry

News

Museum-Quality Art Pieces At An Affordable Price!

LUMAS Gallery’s Melbourne outpost makes limited art editions and photographic artworks more accessible for all.
Sponsored

News

Twenty Six Designers Exhibit Their ABC's For A One Night Only Graphic Design Exhibition

Twenty-six designers come together for an exhibition that supports the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation’s ‘Subtext: Art for...
Sally Tabart
  13 hours ago

News

Blooming With Love In This Silent Auction

Join Cecilia Fox, Katie Marx and Georgie Boy in raising funds for beloved creative Shonel Bryant of Nomad Styling, who is embarking on treat...
Miriam McGarry

Stays

A Magically Restorative Waterfront Getaway In Tasmania

Once a dilapidated shack, Captains Rest is now one of the most in-demand boutique accommodations in Tassie!
Amelia Barnes

Art

Saint Cloche Hosts Final Exhibition For 2019, ‘Paradiso’

The Paddington art gallery closes the year with their annual group show!
Amelia Barnes

Architecture

A Sculptural Home Inspired By The Hepburn Landscape

A distinctive Corten-clad house designed by Robert Nichol and Sons, just outside Hepburn, Victoria.
Amelia Barnes

Similar Stories

Food

Spice Mama · Beetroot and Ginger Curry

Spice Mama, aka Shaheen Hughes, shares a vibrant vegetarian recipe inspired by her Indian heritage.
Shaheen Hughes and Sultana Shamshi

Food

Free to Feed · Felafel

Persian recipes from Hamed Allahyari of Free to Feed, a new asylum seeker cooking project in Melbourne.
Hamed Allahyari and Julia Busuttil Nishimura of Free to Feed

Food

Spice Mama · Coconut Fish Curry

Passionate Indian cook Shaheen Hughes of the hit Perth-based blog, Spice Mama, shares the first recipe in a month-long menu inspired by her
Shaheen Hughes and Sultana Shamshi