It’s not often I come across a breakfast that disturbs my pantheon of personal favourites – granita di caffe con panna e brioche (Irrera 1910, Messina, Sicily) ; wild asparagus omelette (Vigna la Corte, Monte Lucretili, Lazio) ; kipper + tea, toast & marmalade (home); croissant filled with pistachio cream (Caltanisetta, Sicily) ; sfogliatelle + ristretto (Scaturchio ,Naples) – but I found another on a trip to Soneva Fushi in the Maldives last week. It was as splendid as it was unexpected. It’s called Mas Huni.
It comes in various forms, but my preferred version was the most traditional – shreds of sun-dried and lightly smoked tuna + grated coconut + chilli + finely chopped red onion. Served with chapati and rihaakuru, a dipping sauce made of very reduced fish soup (not unlike piscine Bovril), loaded with chilli and lime (or mango or tamarind). Meaty tuna; breezy coconut; chippy onion; brisk chilli. I wouldn’t swear that there wasn’t a hint of lime in there, too. Floppy chapati as dry as flannel. Rihaakuru: salty, tangy, gloopy, hot sauce. Black Darjeeling tea to clear the mouth between bites. Banana and mango smoothie to complete the sense of health and well-being.
They also do a milder version using tinned tuna for the Soneva Fushi breakfast table. It’s less of a wack around the tastebuds as a gentle nudge, but delightful nevertheless); and a version made with Maldivian pumpkin, that was utterly seductive.
Below are the recipes provided but Abdullah Sobah, the chef at Soneva Fushi. I have no intention of making Mas Huni. Aside from the challenges of laying my hands on dried, smoked yellow fin tuna and coconuts of the right quality (Did you know that the coconut is the national tree of the Maldives; and there a multitude of variants? Well, I didn’t). Somehow breakfasts, like other dishes and some wines, never taste the same when you try to recreate those happy holiday indulgences at home. I prefer to keep my breakfast memories pristine. And if that means I’ll have to head back to the Maldives if I want to enjoy Mas Huni again, well, I’m sure I’ll find away of living with that particular penance.
150 g dried, smoked yellowfin tuna (or 1 tin)
100 g grated fresh coconut
1/2 red onion
12 curry leaves
3 green chillies
1/tsp back pepper
Salt to taste
Finely chop red onion, curry leaves, and green chilli. Mix. Add salt coarsely ground black pepper. Grate coconut and add. Add tuna flakes and mix thoroughly. (Squeeze a little lime juice?)