"The sight of live crabs being sold in Chinatown brought back mouthwatering memories of mom's crab curry which I used to devour and I wanted to relive the experience. The body is cooked whole along with the pincers and legs. The legs usually don't have much meat but add flavor to the dish. The curry is purposely on the milder side to ensure that the spices do not overpower the delicate meat flavor. It is best when eaten the next day! Serve with hot rice cooked with a couple of cloves and piece of cinnamon."
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, and peppercorns; cook and stir until spices start to pop. Add dried chile peppers, urad dal, and fennel seeds; cook until dal starts turning golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir onions, garlic, and ginger into the pot. Cook and stir until garlic just starts to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add garam masala, chile powder, turmeric, and salt; cook 1 minute more.
Stir 1 cup of water, tomato puree, and tomato paste into the pot. Cook until tomato puree thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 cup water, coconut, and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; stir in tamarind juice.
Bring curry back to a boil. Reduce heat to low; add crabs to the pot. Cook over medium-low heat until crabmeat is opaque, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until crabs absorb curry flavors, about 2 hours.