the appetizer:

Journey along the Indian spice route with Andreas Viestad in his new cookbook, Where Flavor Was Born, featuring recipes like Mauritian Bouillabaisse (Mauritius); Cumin-Curry Tuna Salad with Dates and Chickpeas (Oman); and Curried Duck with Vanilla (Réunion—France).



Cumin-Curry Tuna Salad
with Dates and Chickpeas

The Sultanate of Oman is a country in southwest Asia, on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

Cumin-Curry Tuna Salad with Dates and Chickpeas


Serves 6 to 8 as a starter,
2 as a main course

The waters off the coast of Oman are one of the last areas where tuna is still relatively common, and in the port of Muscat, it is still a part of everyday life to see the fishermen showing off their catch, bragging about the almost supernatural strength of that most precious of game fish, with all the implications that has for their strength and manhood. Although Oman is today a relatively prosperous country, most of the valuable fish is exported.

Most Omani salads use purslane, a small salad green that is popular in the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent but not much used in the West. I substitute a variety of small-leaved salad greens, some bitter, like watercress and arugula, and some mild, like baby lettuce.

  • 2 8-ounce tuna steaks
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds, plus 2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder, mild or hot, as preferred
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt
  • Oil for pan frying, such as canola
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into strips
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 large mild red chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
  • 6 dates, pitted and quartered
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • Flaky salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon

1 Season the tuna steaks on both sides with the ground cumin, curry, paprika, and salt to taste.

2 Heat a thin film of oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the tuna and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board,

3 In a salad bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except the flaky salt, and mix well. Adjust the seasoning, possibly using more lemon juice.

4 Transfer the salad to serving plates. Slice the tuna steaks and place on top of the salad. Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve.

NOTE You can also make this salad using canned tuna. It is not as interesting but very good nonetheless. Just separate the tuna into large chunks and sprinkle with the ground cumin and curry.

  • from:
  • Where Flavor Was Born
    Recipes and Culinary Travels Along the Indian Ocean Spice Route
  • by Andreas Viestad
  • Chronicle Books 2007
  • Photographs by Mette Randem
  • Hardcover; $40.00; 288 pp; 128 color photos
  • ISBN-10: 0811849651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-8118-4965-4
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

Buy Where Flavor Was Born


Where Flavor Was Born


For more world recipes, please visit Destinations page.


This page created November 2007

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