This Indian-inspired riff on a classic is a slightly less hearty yet still supremely satisfying incarnation of classic seafood chowder. It melds crab, sweet corn, and potatoes in a curry-spiked coconut milk broth, resulting in a luxuriously rich yet surprisingly light chowder that’s actually more reminiscent of bisque. Equally ideal on a late summer night as a frigid winter night.Angie Zoobkoff

Four bowls of curried crab corn chowder, filled with crab, corn, and a curried broth, on bread and spoons nearby

Curried Crab Corn Chowder

5 from 1 vote
This Indian-inspired curried crab corn chowder simmers sweet crab, corn, and potatoes in a rich curry-coconut broth that’s amped up with Old Bay seasoning.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories320 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 about 4 ounces stalks celery, very finely chopped
  • 1 about 7 ounces red onion, very finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 about 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4-inch (6-mm) cubes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon store-bought or homemade Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups store-bought or homemade vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups regular or light coconut milk, canned or fresh
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 8 ounces cooked lump crabmeat or fresh
  • 1/3 teaspoon roasted fennel powder
  • 3 to 4 chives, finely snipped, for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


  • In a large pot set over medium heat, warm the oil and butter. Let the butter melt, then add the bay leaf and let it sizzle until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Toss in the celery and onion and cook, stirring continuously, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
  • Stir in the potatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Then add the pepper, curry powder, and Old Bay, if using, and cook over medium heat to take some of the rawness out of the curry powder, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour in the broth and stir to thoroughly combine everything. Then add the coconut milk and milk. Keep stirring and bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium, add the corn and crab and simmer until the potatoes are tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Stir in the fennel powder and adjust the seasoning to taste. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  • Ladle the chowder into bowls and garnish with the chopped chives and cilantro. (Leftovers taste even better than the first time around. Although you may need to add a little extra broth as you reheat the chowder since it tends to thicken when it sits.)
Masala & Meatballs Cookbook

Adapted From

Masala & Meatballs

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Serving: 1 bowlCalories: 320 kcalCarbohydrates: 36 gProtein: 14 gFat: 13 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4 gTrans Fat: 0.2 gCholesterol: 30 mgSodium: 773 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 8 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Asha Shivakumar. Photo © 2018 Alanna Taylor-Tobin. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This curried crab corn chowder was delightfully rich and luxurious with the addition of crab but didn’t feel overwhelmingly heavy due to the lower fat milk and coconut milk. Leftovers were even better the next day.

I used light coconut milk and 1% milk. I also used the Old Bay. With a loaf of crusty bread on the side, it was a perfect meal for a very cold winter night.

This curried crab corn chowder is rich and satisfying and all of the flavor components are perfectly balanced. I went all out and bought a can of jumbo lump crab meat for this recipe. It was well worth it.

This curried crab corn chowder served 6 anxiously awaiting people! The flavors were delicious combined with the coconut milk and curry powder.

I splashed 2 tablespoons dry sherry into the chowder before topping with the chives and cilantro. It seemed everything was the same color in the bowl but the chives and cilantro added that green touch at the last.

This curried crab corn chowder was a hit for my husband and I. Simple enough to whip up on a weekday and filling to be a main dish with a salad. Great flavors coming through from the crab, curry, and coconut milk mixture. Always lovely to find ways to find recipes that make us feel like we’re eating something exotic without the struggle of difficult techniques or locating rare ingredients.

A flavorful twist on a seafood chowder. It appealed to all ages of tastebuds in my house, in particular my 10 year old, who liked the seasonings and gave it an 8.25 rating.

My husband is usually a non-seafood eater but still enjoyed the mellow taste of the crab. This chowder was easy to pull together on a Sunday afternoon, minimal time and effort required and ready to serve with hearty bread and butter for a delicious linner (lunch and dinner) in just over an hour.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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