This decadent fish curry is representative of Maldivian cuisine, which is based on three main staples: fish, coconut and starch. Slideshow: Curry Recipes
Lightly salt the fish and set it aside. In a large skillet, warm the coconut oil on medium heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cardamom, ginger, curry leaves and chile pepper slices and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the onion slices and continue to sauté until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
When the onion has softened, add the fennel, cumin, turmeric and black pepper and sauté until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer everything to a small blender or food processor and blend into a smooth paste, adding water if needed. Discard the cardamom pods if they didn’t fully blend.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add in the blended onion mixture. Stir in all but 1 tablespoon of the coconut milk and add the cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer, then reduce to medium-low and simmer until slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Taste the curry and add salt if needed.
Gently add the fish pieces to the curry and simmer without stirring until the fish is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes. The easiest way to tell if fish is done is to gently nudge it with a spoon; it’s ready when it slightly resists flaking. Spoon the curry into bowls and drizzle the extra 1 tablespoon of coconut milk over it. Serve with rice or cauliflower rice.