Maldivian tuna curry

This tuna curry recipe by Selina Periampillai is a true celebration of Maldivian ingredients and flavours. Tuna and coconut are enhanced with warming spices such as cumin, cardamom and turmeric. Serve with steamed rice for a speedy weeknight dinner. The Island Kitchen by Selina Periampillai (Bloomsbury, £26.00) is out now. Photography by Yuki Sugiura, 2019.

First published in 2019

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.





  • Food processor


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

Selina Periampillai is a British-born Mauritian food pioneer, self-taught chef and author of The Island Kitchen.

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