Curried crab tarts

Crab, fish, seafood, pastry, baking, cooking, GBBO, food, foodie, afternoon tea, afternoontea, tart, philipfriend, Philip friend, besthomecook, bbc, bbc1, television, tv

These delicious tarts are packed with crab flavour and are quite certain to be devoured without any trace!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is my take on some superb tarts I ordered from Rick Stein as part of their Tea box. The box was outstanding, with a great selection of cakes, scones and savouries, but for me the crab tartlets were the star.

This is my take on those tarts. The curry flavour is delicate, with the spices gently warming. The savoury custard, laden with the crab meat, is set to a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture. The tarts are best served slightly warm.


I used a tub of fresh crab meat from the supermarket which also included brown crab meat, adding a phenomenal depth of flavour. But you can make this with just white crab meat.

I’ve even made these using the inexpensive crab paste that you spread on toast or on bread. It also gives a lovely crabby flavour at a fraction of the cost.

If you don’t like crab or if you want more economical tarts, you can use tinned tuna (ideally the type that comes in tins of spring water rather than brine or oil): simply drain it well and add in place of the crab meat.

Silicon tart rings: to avoid baking blind

As I’ve done previously with my bacon & caramelised onion tartlets, I use perforated silicone rings (about 8cm in diameter).

I bought them online ages ago and they are an absolute God-send for small tarts such as these as there is no need to bake blind: you just line with thin pastry put the filling in and bake for about 20 minutes. With the bases being almost directly onto the metal baking tray, there are no soggy bottoms!

However, you can use standard tartlet cases – in which case, it is best to bake them blind before filling.

Recipe: curried crab tartlets – makes 6

  • about 230g shortcrust pastry
  • 1 medium egg
  • 200ml single cream (or milk/natural yoghurt or a mixture)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus a little extra to season
  • 2 teaspoons tandoori masala powder or curry powder of choice
  • 1 teaspoon lime pickle or mango chutney, crushed
  • 100g white crab meat or a mixture of white and brown
  • grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan)

You will also need 6 tart rings (about 8cm diameter, ideally perforated)

(1) Place a sheet of greaseproof onto a solid baking tray and pop the tart rings on top of the greaseproof.

(2) Split the pastry into 6 equal pieces and roll each out thinly. Line the tart tins, pressing against the sides. Trim the tops.

(3) Heat the oil in a large frying pan until fairly hot and add the mustard seeds. Keep cooking until the mustard seeds start to pop and then add the onions.

(4) Continue to cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, before stirring in the salt, cumin powder, lime pickle and 1 teaspoon of the tandoori masala powder. Continue to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the onions are very soft. Leave to cool.

(5) Add the egg, cream, a little extra salt to season and an extra teaspoon of tandoori masala powder to a jug. Whisk gently with a fork to break up the egg.

(6) Mix the crabmeat, the lime zest and the cooled onion mixture in a bowl and add about half of the egg mixture, stirring well to coat everything.
NB: ideally chill this mixture and the remaining egg mixture for about 30 minutes, so that when it goes into the oven it cooks even more slowly without over-cooking, while the pastry has chance to become crisp.

(7) Spoon the filling into the pastry cases, and carefully pour over the rest of the egg mixture, coming almost to the top.
NB: take care not to spill any of the egg mixture down the sides, otherwise it will set and make it hard to remove the tart rings. You might find it easier to pop the tray into the oven, and carefully pour the rest of the egg into the tarts that way.

(8) Bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling has set but retains a bit of a wobble. Use a fish slice or wide palette knife to transfer the tarts to a cooling rack carefully. Remove the tart rings after a few minutes: they should simply lift up.
NB: If you had any egg spillage and the rings are not removing easily, run a sharp knife gently between the pastry and the rings and then lift off.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

One thought on “Curried crab tarts”

I love to hear your comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: