Thursday, October 8, 2020

Masbaiy 2 (fish pilaf using smoked tuna)

Masbaiy is a Maldivian fish pilaf,  usually made using smoked tuna although I previously uploaded a recipe with fresh tuna. During our trip to Dhiggaru last year, we had one of the best tasting Masbaiy. Maybe because the smoked tuna is made on the island itself.

The lady who prepared it for us even boasted that the Masbaiy prepared on that island was one of the best in the country, nobody makes Masbaiy like they do in Dhiggaru was what she said. It was quite delicious, the rice grains nicely separated with  just enough spices to flavor it and enough heat but not too much of the chillies. The star of the dish was the smoked tuna. 

 So I played around with it after returning from that island  and I hope I have managed to bring justice to this beloved dish. 

I have used raw rice, not basmathi rice. Locals call it haru handoo. There is a big difference in taste between the masbaiy cooked with basmati and the one cooked in haru handoo. 

Yield: 4-6
Author: Nammi


Prep time: 30 min cook time: 20 min total time: 50 Min


  • 2 cups raw rice (haruhandoo)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced smoked tuna ( preferably the slightly dry ones found in supermarket)
  • 1 medium size onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 dried chillies, cut into large pieces
  • ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1” ginger, finely grated
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 12 inch pandan leaf, knotted or cut into large pieces
  • 4 pods cardamom, ends snipped and left whole
  • ½ inch piece cinnamon
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Juice of 1 cheek of a lime, about ½ tsp
  • ½ cup coconut milk * see note below*
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Wash the rice several times in running water till the water is cleared and not murky. Soak the rice in water for about  20 minutes.
  2. Prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Take a large pot, add oil, and let it heat up.
  4. Add onions, curry leaves, and pandan and stir fry till the onions start to go translucent.
  5. Lower heat, add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, coarse ground pepper ( the pepper should be very coarse, so best to just pulse the peppercorns in a spice grinder for 1 time just to break down the peppercorns), the dried chillies, and smoked tuna.
  6. Stir fry to mix everything and then stir in the rice ( after draining the water of course). Stir the rice to coat with the onion mixture and then add coconut milk, water, turmeric, and salt. ( I usually add 1 ¼ tsp of salt for this amount of rice). Squeeze the lime juice and bring the flame to medium-high and cook uncovered.
  7. Once the water has evaporated from the top , lower the heat and let it cook another 5 minutes. Give a gentle stir with a spoon , check the bottom of the pot to make sure if the water is completely evaporated, switch off and leave, uncovered ( or half-covered) for another 5- 10 minutes. Fluff it up and serve warm with rihaakuru , lime juice, lonumirus and theluli faiy.
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  1. A big YES to smoked tuna and all the wonderful spices....the pilia must have tasted amazingly delicious, Nammi.

  2. I love rice dishes and the smoked tuna sure adds lots of flavor...thanks for the recipe. Have a wonderful rest of the week Nammi!

    1. THank you Juliana, stay safe and enjoy the weekend

  3. This looks delicious... and I bet the smoked tuna adds so much flavor!

    1. yes , the smoked tuna made here is really flavorful and quite strong in the umami flavor :)

  4. Interesting recipe, looks super delicious,I can't wait to try this recipe.


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