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Maldivian tuna curry

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

I love sitting at the beach on old chairs with a cold beer, feet dug deep into the sand, and enjoying a seafood meal at sunset. With no travel this year, I decided to bring some beach cuisine to my kitchen. I knew very little about Maldivian cuisine until I got this beautiful cookbook. The book is about the sea, Indian-influenced spices, and coconut based cuisine. The flavors vary with cuisines of the islands, influenced by proximity, conquerers and sea trade routes. This curry is delicious! The tuna is cooked in a tangy, coconut based curry that is mildly spiced. The flavors tend to stay on your palate in a warm glow and accentuate the flaky fish. We served this curry with white rice, basmati, and it made for the perfect pairing. All that was missing was the sand, sunset and beer!

I am always excited to cook from a new cookbook. This one is quite unique on my bookshelf, it brings to me island flavors, a new dimension. I know I am going to learn a lot about the cuisine and culture of the Maldives and the surrounding islands from this book.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle

1 tablespoon coconut oil, or neutral cooking oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ginger paste

10 curry leaves

1 green chili, cut into circles, or to taste

1 onion, finely sliced

1/2 teaspoon anise seed, toasted and crushed in a mortar and pestle

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 can,14 oz., coconut milk

Salt to taste 1/2 lb tuna steaks, cut into 1 inch cubes

Cilantro, minced

Salt the tuna and set aside.

On a large saucepan add the oil and heat on a medium flame.Add the cardamom, garlic, ginger paste, curry leaves and green chilies. Sauté for 1 minute till fragrant. Add the onions and continue to sauté till the onions are golden, about 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spices, you may need to adjust the heat for this step. Add the rest of the spices, except the cinnamon stick, and sauté for another 1 minute till you get a beautiful aroma. Take off the heat and cool down.

Transfer the paste to a blender and purée till very smooth. You may need to add some water to get the paste to slide down the sides of the blender, but keep this to a minimum.

Add the purée back to the pot, add the coconut milk, cinnamon stick and salt and bring back to a gentle simmer. Do not boil the curry, it may split. Simmer for 10 minutes till the coconut has cooked and integrated into the sauce. Taste and adjust salt. The curry can be set aside at this point.

When you are ready, bring the curry back to a simmer, if cooled, and add the tuna steaks. Mix in and simmer for 10 minutes till the tuna is just cooked through and very flaky.

Serve immediately topped with cilantro and with white rice.

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