Canned Tuna Curry – Malvani Style

Canned or tinned fishes are the ones that are processed and sealed in airtight containers to last for a long period of time. Canning is a process of preserving food thereby extending their shelf-life from a year up to 5 years. Canned tuna is sold in various forms; preserved in brine, spring water, sunflower or olive oil. Although there’s no disputing the health benefits of a fresh catch, canned tuna doesn’t lag behind on nutrition either.

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1. Rich source of protein
2. Amino aids, specially Taurine, which protects against heart disease
3. Omega 3 and Antioxidants
4. Rich in vitamins, specially B3 that maintains skin health and that of nervous system too. Vitamin D which promotes bone health, immunity and brain function. Minerals like calcium and magnesium that aid healthy bones and energy respectively.
5. Tuna canned in spring water or brine are low in fat and therefore can be consumed without worrying too much

That said, tuna cans have found a permanent place in my kitchen.
The fish is nice and flaky for making healthy tuna sandwiches-on-the-go.
Shred and spoon in some mayo, a squeeze of lime, and slather the mixture on the bread; and there you have a sweet-and-sour tuna-mayo sandwich. There’s literally no end to play with creativity when it comes to canned tuna; be it in brine or salt water or sunflower oil or olive oil. The difference in these varieties is that tuna in oil is already flavored than one in saltwater and brine. Also calorie content is a little higher in the former.

Bored with sandwiches, I wanted to try something new and this struck; the idea of adding it to the curry.


Malvan is quaint little port town tucked away in the region of Konkan, sandwiched between Western Ghats on the East and Arabian Sea to the West. Malvan is the last beach town before the long and stunning Konkan shoreline running right from the south of Mumbai melts into the sands of Goa.

Built in 1664 by the venerated and beloved King of Maharashtra, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Malvan is of utmost historical significance; it’s an abode of the imposing Fort Sindhudurg.

Due to proximity to the sea, the primary occupations of the Malvani people are agriculture and fishing. Naturally, fish curry and rice are a staple diet.

Coconut trees are abundant, which make coconut a predominant ingredient in Malvani cuisine; recipes being closely similar to the neighboring Goa; few tweaks here and there.

Coming back to Tuna Curry…

1. Shredded coconut – 200 gms
2. 1 small onion – chopped (halh for blitzign and half for curry)
3. Corriander seeds – 2 tsps
4. Garlic cloves – 5
5. Ginger – an inch
6. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
7. Whole bedgi chilli – 20
8. Triphal – 3
9. Kokam – 4
10. Oil – 2 tbsp
11. Salt as per taste.
12. 2 Tuna cans – drain oil / water and separate the flakes before adding to the curry

1. Soak chilies, coriander seeds and triphal in hot water for 15 minutes. Then grind them all to a fine paste.


2. In a mixer, add the above along with coconut, garlic, ginger, turmeric powder, half onion and grind them all to a very fine paste.

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3. Heat oil in a wok and add the remainder of chopped onion. Fry till translucent. Be careful not to burn.

4. Meanwhile, soak kokams in 2-3 tbsps of water.
5. After the onions are softened, add the blitzed coconut mixture and fry on medium till the oil starts leaving from the sides.
6. Add the kokams, water as per your desired consistency and bring it to boil.
7. Now slide in the flaked tuna, and season it with salt as per your taste

8. Lid on and simmer on low for 10 minutes.

9. Serve hot with steamed rice or bhakris.

1. You can blitz the coconut mixture in a big batch and refrigerate in an airtight container; it stays just the same for quite a number of days. Whenever you wish to make curry, just thaw it for a while, use as much as you need and pack the rest.

2. Replace Tuna with any other fish, like Pomfret or Surmai or Prawns. The flavour is unbelievable each time.

3. Do not go overboard with Triphal. It’s an amazing spice, but if used more, it will take away the pleasantly piquant flavor of the curry leaving a slight bittery aftertaste instead. 2-3 are enough to impart the curry that typically traditional Malvani taste.
Triphal isn’t easily available in the groceries. After going through order it from Amazon. It’s often confused with Sichuan Pepper Corns, and the two are as different as night and day.
Sharing the link here of the one that I purchased and cooked with.
Link to for buying Triphal

4. You can use Kashmiri Chilli powder instead of whole Chilies and coriander powder instead of seeds. But the flavor that comes from using whole spices and soaking them before grinding is absolutely next level that powdered spices may not.

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