Packed with fresh and vibrant flavours, popular in Maldivian cooking, this recipe by chef Selina Periampillai gives a tropical twist to this classic dish
IMAGE: YUKI SUGIURA
This warm, tangy fish curry is cooled with mellow coconut milk. It celebrates two cherished ingredients in Maldivian cuisine: tuna and coconut. The latter is served at almost every meal, whether the milk is extracted and added to curries like this or it is freshly grated or sliced and used as a condiment.
The tuna is enhanced with southern Indian spices including cardamom, curry leaves and turmeric. It doesn’t take long to cook, so this dish can be ready to eat in under thirty minutes, perfect for a midweek meal with steamed rice. ʻDhon rihaʼ is also enjoyed at breakfast by locals, served with rice, chillies and ʻroshiʼ (thin Maldivian flatbreads) on the side, which are perfect for scooping up the sauce.
Maldivian Tuna Curry
- 500 g tuna steak cut into 2.5cm pieces
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 cardamom pods seeds only, crushed
- 2.5 cm piece of fresh root ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 10 curry leaves finely chopped
- 1 green chilli finely sliced
- 1 onion finely sliced
- ½ tsp ground fennel seeds
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 400 ml tin coconut milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Sea salt
- Coriander to garnish
- Lightly salt the fish and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, warm the coconut oil over a medium heat until simmering. Add in the garlic, cardamom, ginger, curry leaves and chilli. Let this sauté until fragrant – usually around 30 seconds. Add the onion slices and cook until softened, around 5–7 minutes. Add the rest of the spices: the fennel, cumin, turmeric and black pepper. After around a minute they will mingle together and become aromatic.
- At this point, transfer everything into a food processor and blend to a coarse paste. Return the paste back to the pan over a medium heat, pour in the coconut milk, holding back one tablespoon for drizzling at the end, and pop in the cinnamon stick and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Bring to a simmer and gently add the fish pieces to the sauce. They will cook fairly quickly. After 5 minutes, the fish should be tender, opaque and cooked throughout and the curry will be ready to serve. Drizzle over the extra coconut milk, scatter with the coriander and serve with a heap of rice.
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