Chef Munidasa On His Love For Sri Lanka’s Legendary Mud Crabs
Image Credit: Chef Dharshan Munidasa / Pic- Ministry of Crabs

Titled as one greatest seafood chef in Asia, Dharshan Munidasa, the world-famous Sri Lankan chef who is also known for his iconic restaurant The Ministry of Crab. This restaurant takes pride in serving all fresh export quality Sri Lankan lagoon crabs and has been ranked in Asia’s top 50 restaurant list too. Ministry of Crab found its home in India, in an iconic property at Zaveri House Khar with a magnificent triple ceiling height. The inception of the restaurant if given to Chef Dharshan Munidasa’s TV show “Culinary Journeys with Dharshan”, featuring the Sri Lankan Mud Crab in one episode, which was filmed in Singapore. That’s from where the initial idea of creating a crab restaurant was born, as Dharshan wanted to celebrate the iconic Mud Crab in his home country. Feeling that a restaurant dedicated to this purpose, deserved a powerful, institution-like name, it was named “Ministry of Crab”. Along with Chef Dharshan Munidasa this iconic place also sees brains like Sri Lankan cricketing legends Mahela Jayawardane and Kumar Sangakkara.

With his uncompromising principles on quality, Dharshan has given the Sri Lanka’s legendary lagoon crab or Mud Crab all new recognition at this restaurant. 

What has been your inspiration to this trade?

Hunger! Hunger for good food. The amazing restaurants I visited in Japan during my childhood have been a major inspiration in my life. The simple ingredients that surround us and how they can be presented are inspiring. 

What drove me to start cooking was subpar dorm food when I was doing my undergraduate studies in University in the US. When I first started cooking, I slowly began to realise that I needed to have a “method to the madness” so to speak, and began developing menus with corresponding grocery lists. It was of utmost importance that whatever I cooked was fresh, tasty and enjoyable to eat, so much so that every Friday night about 20 students from neighbouring universities would show up at my lodgings for dinner, turning it into somewhat of a Japanese restaurant! These initial dishes I developed in university, later translated into my first restaurant Nihonbashi when I returned to Sri Lanka. 

What draws you towards seafood and the crustacean, in particular?

Sri Lanka has been famous for tea, cinnamon and I believe the next amazing ingredient we have to give to the world is our Sri Lankan Crab; and Singapore has been creating a brand name for this magnificent crustacean for the last 40 years. As a chef it always irked me that our best crabs were always found in another country, so to balance the equation Ministry of Crab was born out of my TV show (Culinary Journeys with Dharshan) and that’s how it all started. 

When conceptualizing a new menu what are the few things that you always take care of?

The strength of our restaurant is not changing menus, but presenting every day, the knowledge of the ingredient that we proudly symbolize on our logo. Restaurants that keep changing their menus are second guessing the market, their talents or their belief of what their cuisine should be. For example: Steak has never changed, you are able to plate it up in different ways but still a steak in its simplest, humblest form is king. Similarly our strength comes from knowing our ingredient and confidently plating it daily. 

What has been your primarily style of cooking, and how would you say it’s evolved over the years?

Simple, natural, and totally dependent on ingredients as Japanese food normally is. Washoku is a philosophy that pays a lot of respect to ingredient in terms of how they are sourced, treated and eventually plated; which is what I follow in my cooking. Using very good ingredients and cooking very simply is the core of this philosophy, and I make sure that it shines through at all of my restaurants. 

What are some of the must-try dishes at Ministry of Crab Mumbai?

Our signature dishes are our Mud Crabs and Freshwater Prawns.  Garlic Chili fresh water prawns with kade bread (Sri Lankan wood fire bread) and Pepper crab are a must try. How we cook these dishes is unique to us with regard to the quality of ingredients we use and the Japanese culinary philosophies we employ.  

Chilli Crab

The strength to say to No! I do not understand why restaurants pander to every single customer’s requirements of changing a dish. If we do this all restaurants in the world would be the same. The point is that we need to have the respect of the customer when they come to our restaurants, the same way we respect our customers when they are in our restaurants. So I think my biggest strength is my ability to say no, which is lacking in this part of the world.

What is your idea of comfort food?

My go-to comfort food would be ramen or miso soup. I also find the staff food in my restaurants very comforting. 

What’s that crab dish that you love to cook for your family? Recipe



  • 1Kg mud Crab 
  • 15g unroasted Curry Powder    
  • 5g chilli Powder
  • 2.5g turmeric Powder    
  • 30g sunflower Oil        
  • 10g hand-chopped Onion        
  • 10g hand-chopped Garlic        
  • 20g coconut Milk        
  • 1 (5-inch) lemon Grass Stalk
  • 1 (4-inch) pandan Leaf    
  • 2 sprigs curry Leaves    
  • 1 sprig drumstick Leaves        
  • 250ml water        
  • Salt (to taste)        


    Prepare the crab by cleaning it and cutting it into 6 pieces.  

    Into a pot add Sunflower oil, once heated add onion, garlic, stalk of lemongrass, pandan leaf, curry leaves and sauté until fragrant. 

    While the ingredients in the pot are sautéing, mix together curry powder, turmeric and chilli powder with 200ml of water and season the crab.                  

    Once the ingredients in the pot are fragrant, add the crab and curry/water mixture into the pot.

    Cook the crab covered on low heat for 15 - 20 minutes.                 

    Once the Crab is almost done add drumstick leaves, coconut milk and add salt to taste, if necessary.                         

    Once the curry thickens, turn off the heat and serve.         

(Note: As much as I like to share this recipe, please understand that many households in India and in Sri Lanka will not be able to get the same level of quality of Crab that the restaurant gets, simply because the best crabs are always flown out. To get these crabs to your hand is the biggest recipe that you need to figure out)