Maya Feller’s Chili Coconut Crab Rice

published Feb 17, 2023
Chili Coconut Crab Rice Recipe
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Credit: Christine Han

Coconuts are reminiscent of coastal Africa, and okra is a staple vegetable as well — both boasting an array of health-supporting nutrients. The use of vadouvan curry imparts warm, sweet, and smoky notes all at once, while the crab brings the brine of the ocean. All of the components make for a nourishing and tummy-warming dish.

Chili Coconut Crab Rice Recipe

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 cup


  • 2 tablespoons

    vadouvan spice blend

  • Kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 pound

    unpasteurized jumbo lump crabmeat

  • 4 tablespoons

    dried Aleppo pepper

  • 1/2 cup

    coconut oil

  • 3/4 cup

    avocado oil plus 1/4 cup for frying

  • 3 tablespoons

    benne seeds (also known as sesame seeds)

  • 20 pieces

    thinly sliced okra

  • 2

    scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced, for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons

    minced chives, for garnish

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper


  1. Make the rice: Rinse the rice grits until starch runs through. In a pot, place the grits and cover with water by at least 1 inch. Cook over high heat until the water boils, reduce to a simmer, cover with the lid, and cook for 14 to 15 minutes and check. Cook uncovered for an additional 3 minutes, until the water is fully absorbed. Season with the vadouvan and salt to taste. Reserve, keeping it warm.

  2. Make the crab: In a small pot, place the butter and 1/4 cup of water and melt together, constantly whisking to emulsify. Add the crab to the pot and warm through until hot.

  3. Make the chili oil: In a blender, place 3 tablespoons of the Aleppo, the coconut oil, and 1/2 cup of the avocado oil. Blend for about 60 seconds, until fully incorporated. Add the remaining Aleppo and the benne seeds. Blend for an additional 30 seconds, then set aside.

  4. Make the okra: Place the sliced okra in a heavy bottomed medium skillet over high heat with avocado oil and fry for about 15 minutes, continuously stirring, or until crispy. Take care not to burn the okra. Set aside on a towel-lined pan to absorb the excess oil.

  5. To serve, place the rice grits on the bottom of each bowl. Gently spoon the crab across the top of the rice grits. Garnish with scallions and chives. Stir the chili oil and lightly dress the crab with oil. Place the okra sporadically across the top of the crab. Season with salt to taste and the pepper.

Recipe Notes

Ingredient Highlight: Botanically, okra is a fruit! It’s an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as being a good source of other vitamins, plant-based protein, and fiber. Current research has found that okra may help improve lipid profiles and blood sugars.