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Passport & Plate - Mas Huni

Maldives | Thursday, 5 March 2015 | 5 photos

1 red onion chopped finely into rings
a small handful diced curry leaves
1 small chilli diced
1 tblsp salt
juice of 1 lime
1 tin canned tuna in brine
1 cup freshly grated coconut

optional ingredients:
1/2 cup boiled butternut pumpkin


handful of finely chopped Maldivian cabbage leaves, kale is a good substitute

Roshi (Maldivian flat bread)

250 gr flower
1 tsp salt
2 reasonable whacks of olive oil
Boiling water


How to prepare this recipe
Mas Huni

Using your right hand, mix the onion, spices and lime juice into a creamy paste.

Add the tuna and mix thoroughly.

Now add the shredded coconut and mix until all ingredients combine to a creamy paste. It’s very important to do this part by hand. It won’t taste the same in a blender.

Mas Huni is eaten by hand, scooped up with freshly baked roshi, the Maldivian version of the Indian flat bread.


Knead all ingredients well using your right hand. Separate into golfball-sized portions.

Roll out with a rolling pin into thin round disks, fry without oil in a shallow pan.

The frying takes a lot of skill. Essentially you wait until the dough starts to bubble. Then you swiftly turn the bread over, pressing down with a spatula so that the bread does not expand into one large blister. Turn once again until both sides are evenly toasted.

You can substitute the roshi with pre-packaged wraps or tortilla. It’ll still be yummy.


The story behind this recipe
“Mas Huni”, Lathifa repeats the words for me. Tuna and shredded coconut. They are the first two words of Divehi I actually manage to remember. And they’ll probably be the only ones I’ll take home with me. Together with the recipe for the traditional Maldivian breakfast.

Every morning Lathifa rises before the dawn prayers to shred an entire coconut, chop onions, make dough for roshi and bake two dozen flatbread for her family, kids, nieces, cousins and all, most of whom will still be in bed by the time she starts her day job as a nurse at 6:30 am.

On her off day, she does a cooking demonstration for me. I am in the Maldives on a five months assignment as an Australian Education Volunteer and my local host wants to make sure I know how to cook proper meals with what’s on offer in the shops.

Most of the 1192 coral atolls that make up the Maldives can’t be cultivated and there isn’t much available that’s home grown. Fish and coconut are the only local sources of protein. There are no cows in the Maldives. Even the eggs are imported.

Fishing is a way of life here. Everybody in the Maldives is related to a fisherman. And everybody has mas huni for breakfast. These days it’s made with canned tuna. Because like Lathifa, most women in the Maldives, are busy doing all the housework and working full time.

Canned tuna is also my lazy option for getting enough protein. And I don’t have to feel guilty about it because tuna fishing in the Maldives is both sustainable and environmentally friendly. The fish are caught one by one, using pole and line rather than nets. That means no other marine life gets harmed in the process. It also provides plenty of local employment as it’s mostly a family and community driven industry.

Lathifa smiles when I show her my blog. Her recipe and instructions have started a new trend amongst my friends back home who think mas huni is the perfect lunch for a Paleo Diet. And so do I.

Eating canned tuna has never felt this good.

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