UN State of Mind

The annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly is underway and today is the anniversary of eight countries joining the UN. Maldives, Gambia, and Singapore joined in 1965, Qatar, Bahrain, and Bhutan joined in 1971, Seychelles joined in 1976, and Brunei joined in 1984. This recipe for curried tuna dumplings is from Maldives. (There’s a picture below).

Havaadhulee Bis


3 c. diced smoked tuna (substitute: 3 cans Light meat tuna chunks)

1 c. coconut – scraped/grate
2 Dorset Naga peppers, finely chopped (not as hot substitute: Scotch bonnet)
⅓ c. curry leaves, finely chopped

1 c. onion, finely sliced

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 T. ginger, grated

½ c. lemon juice

½ t. turmeric powder
Salt to taste


3 c. sifted flour

1 t. salt

⅓ c. vegetable oil

Warm water

Curry paste:

1 onion, finely sliced

⅓ c. curry leaves

½ c. coconut milk

2 T. curry powder/paste

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 T, chili powder

1 T. tomato paste

1 t. grated ginger 

½ t, cumin powder

2 T. vegetable oil

Blend the onions, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, chilies, lemon juice, turmeric powder and salt.

Add the tuna and coconut, and mix into a thick paste-like mixture. Shape the mixture into small ovals.

For the dough: mix egg, oil and salt into the flour. Add warm water and knead until you have dry, smooth dough. Add the water gradually to make sure the dough does not turn out too sticky. Shape the pieces of dough into cups and place filling inside; then close the cups and smooth into ovals. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the ovals and cook for about 5 – 8 minutes while stirring occasionally.

While these are cooking, make the curry. Heat the vegetable oil and sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and curry leaves. Stir in curry powder/paste, chili paste and tomato paste. Next, stir in the coconut milk over a medium flame until the mixture bubbles. Once the flour coating on the tuna balls are well cooked, drain and stir them into the curry mixture.

NOTES: The recipe name comes from havaadhu (spice or curry) and bis (egg). There are no eggs in the recipe; it’s named for the shape of the dumpling.

The hotness of peppers is measured in Scoville units which indicate parts per million of capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot. It was developed by Wilbur Scoville in 1902. Dorset Naga peppers measure 923,000 Scoville units. Scotch bonnet peppers measure a (relatively mild) 100,000-325,000. As a basis of comparison, jalapenos measure 2,500-8,000; US Police pepper spray measures 5,000,000.

I have a soft (but somewhat pessimistic) spot for the United Nations having interned at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research at the UN HQ in Geneva just after Reagan introduced his Strategic Defense Initiative, an unrealistic program better known as “Star Wars.”


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