How to make Selina Periampillai’s Maldivian tuna curry

Coconut is served at almost every meal in the Maldives, Selina Periampillai says in her new cookbook. In this dish, known as ‘Dhon Riha’ in the Indian Ocean archipelago, the tuna is enhanced with Southern Indian spices like cardamom, curry leaves and turmeric.

Unlike lots of curries though, this can be prepped in 15 minutes and cooked in a further 15, proving authentic Maldivian cuisine can be easier to whip up mid-week than you might have thought.


(Serves 2-4)

500g tuna steak, cut into 2.5cm pieces

1tbsp coconut oil

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cardamom pods, seeds only, crushed

2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

10 curry leaves, finely chopped

1 green chilli, finely sliced

1 onion, finely sliced

1/2tsp ground fennel seeds

1/2tsp ground cumin

1/2tsp ground turmeric

1/2tsp black pepper

400ml tin coconut milk

1 cinnamon stick

Sea salt

Coriander, to garnish

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One of my fave recipes from my book is this utterly delectable Maldivian Tuna Curry also known as Dhon Riha (meaning light or fair curry). Fresh tuna is simmered in a ground spice mix with fragrant cardamom, curry leaves, cinnamon and finished with coconut milk. Served over rice or ‘roshi’ thin Maldivian flatbreads. It’s divine!! I had the opportunity to learn this off a lovely family living in Huraa and this is my take on it 💕 Less than 2 weeks left until The Island Kitchen is released on 2nd May!!! @bloomsburycooks pics by 📸 #theislandkitchen #indianocean #islands #mauritius #seychelles #reunionisland #rodrigues #maldives #madagascar #womeninfood #cookwithme #hometable #lefooding #shecooks #f52grams #food52 #theislandkitchencookbook #foodstagram #sharerecipes #newcookbook #mauritianfood #ilemaurice #tastingtable #thefeedfeed #maldives #maldivesislands

A post shared by Selina Periampillai (@selinaperiam) on


1. Lightly salt the fish and set aside.

2. 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 five to seven 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.

3. At this point, transfer everything into a food processor and blend to a coarse paste.

4. 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 half a teaspoon of salt.

5. Bring to a simmer and gently add the fish pieces to the sauce. They will cook fairly quickly. After five 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.

(Yuki Sugiura/BloomsburyPA)
(Yuki Sugiura/BloomsburyPA)

The Island Kitchen: Recipes From Mauritius And The Indian Ocean by Selina Periampillai is published by Bloomsbury, priced £26.00. Available now.

- Press Association

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