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How a British chef fell in love with this Mumbai delicacy

Chef Will Bowlby’s recipe for butter garlic crab is inspired by Mumbai's famous seafood restaurant, Trishna

Will Bowlby's Butter Garlic Crab
Will Bowlby's Butter Garlic Crab (Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- British chef Will Bowlby fell in love with buttered garlic crab when he spent two years in the Kala Ghoba district of south Mumbai. 

He worked in a kitchen near the famous Trishna seafood restaurant, which is a destination for this signature dish. At Trishna, you don an apron and get down and dirty extracting the buttery crab meat. When Bowlby returned to London, he served a version out of the shell at Kricket restaurant, which he opened in a shipping container in Brixton in 2016.

Will and his friend and business partner Rik Campbell found a ready audience for inexpensive, modern Indian-inspired food. Kricket has gone on to become an established and popular brand, with three restaurants.

Sadly, Will took this dish off the menu, even before the coronavirus lockdown, because crab had become too expensive. But he agreed to share the recipe, a version of which appears in Kricket, an Indian-Inspired Cookbook, published by Hardie Grant Books.

I paid more than 30 pounds ($42) for the ingredients in my local supermarket, so it is not a cheap dish even at home, though it does serve four.

I tend to associate seafood with healthy eating, but it’s worth noting that this dish is laden with butter, as the name implies. It a very rich treat, lent some balance by the lime juice. Will suggests serving it with papads.

You scoop up the crab with the papads. No aprons required.


150 grams (5.3 ounces) unsalted butter

4 tablespoons minced garlic

3 teaspoons finely chopped green chilis

4 tsp cracked black pepper

350g picked white crab meat

40g picked brown crab meat

2 tbs lime juice

a small handful of coriander leaves

sea salt, to taste

To serve:

4 store-bought papads or freshly baked bread

10 sheets nori, blitzed to a powder (optional)


Heat a couple tablespoons of water in a large heavy-based saucepan until bubbling. Add the butter and stir over a medium heat so an emulsion is formed.

Stir in the garlic, green chilis and black pepper and cook for a few seconds before adding the white and brown crab meat.

Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the crab meat has absorbed most of the liquid and the consistency is creamy and smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and finish with lime juice and coriander. Season to taste with salt.

Spoon the crab into bowls and serve with papads dusted with nori powder or fresh bread.

Richard Vines is Chief Food Critic at Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines and Instagram @richard.vines.

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