Friday, January 18, 2019

Tuna Curry with Rice

In a universe far far away (that is, my starving student days) I had a paperback James Beard cookbook with a great recipe for Curried Tuna, which was inexpensive, easy to make (1 pan) and tasty. I have no idea where that cookbook went. 

Currently I’ve got so much going on in my life that I seldom have time to shop for food (usually butter!), so I’ve been scrounging meals from what I have on hand.

By some miracle, I have all the ingredients for tuna curry, mostly canned tuna and rice and nice things like coconut milk. Hooray, I can eat!

Curried Tuna with Rice


2 cups uncooked rice
1/4 cup butter (if you’re using tuna packed in oil, you can use the oil as well)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves (I like to use a garlic press)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tblsp curry powder* 
1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk or coconut milk (canned)
1 can (6 oz.) tuna (or use two cans if it looks skimpy)

*There is no such thing as a single curry flavor—if you have one you like, go with that. It’s also hard to decide how much to use, so taste as you go.

My favorite curry powder

Start your rice cooking (I discovered years ago that a microwave does this very nicely. The basic ratio of rice to liquid is 1:2, and on medium microwave temperature it takes about 15 minutes to cook If you have a favorite way of cooking rice, use that.)

In a saute pan, melt the butter or use the oil from the tuna (or combine the two), heat over low or medium heat, and saute the onion and garlic (and you can add another vegetable if you want), When they are soft, add the salt and curry powder and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

Add the flour to the cooked vegetable and stir until the flour is evenly distributed and has absorbed the butter/oil. Still over medium heat, add milk or coconut milk to cover the vegetables and stir until smooth. When the sauce has begun to thicken, add the rest of the milk/coconut milk and blend (the sauce will continue to thicken). Keep stirring to prevent lumps!

Add the drained tuna and bring the mixture to a simmer.

When the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork. Place a serving of rice in a bowl and add the tuna curry on top. Serve with a green vegetable if you want (this provides nice color contrast).

So you can see that this is a quick, savory dish for a cold winter night. The flavor improves with age, in case you make too much for one meal.


  1. What an unusual curry! My interest is piqued and I tend to have these items in my pantry. Am likely to give this a go in the coming days what with the poor weather likely to keep us huddled inside.

  2. Excellent!
    As you mentioned, you can add various veggies for variety.

    1. I checked my cookbooks. I have a paperback The James Beard Cookbook original copyright 1959! with this a 1971 reprint.
      I don't see any tuna curry in it.
      But in How to Eat Better for Less Money by Beard and Sam Aaron there is a recipe for "Special curried tuna": onion, butter, can of tuna, Bachamel sauce, curry powder, sherry, and hard cooked eggs.

    2. That's supposed to be Bechamel sauce