Saturday 29 June 2019

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj @mamohanraj @rararesources #BlogTour #Recipes #SriLanka

Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.
Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

I am delighted to feature A Feast of Serendib : Recipes from Sri Lanka by Mary Anne Mohanraj o Random Things today as part of the Blog Tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources

I have quite a recipe book 'habit'; and can never resist a new one. There are shelves of them in my house and I'm very happy flicking through the pages, choosing what I'll cook next. However, I do tend to stick to the same well-tried and tested recipes and was a little wary that this book may be filled with ingredients that I'd never heard of and would find difficult to get hold of.

I didn't have to worry; Mary Anne's recipes are simple to follow and the majority of the ingredients are familiar and easily sought out locally. 

Whilst this is a cookery book, it's also something of the author's story. She talks about her ethnic heritage and influences and about her family. The reader gets to know her and it all feels very personal.

Another bonus for me is the detailed descriptions of the various spices and ingredients used throughout the recipes. Even if the reader doesn't recognise the name, the description will help to decide if it is something to your taste

So, I tried one of the recipes; Ginger-Garlic Chicken. It was delicious, other I will admit that I added a little coconut milk at the end as it felt a little dry. I was serving it with rice, but the author does recommend that it's served up with a vegetable curry, which of course would add that moisture to the whole dish. My food photography is rubbish - sorry.  So, instead I'll show you what Mary's dish looks like and tell you that mine wasn't too different!

The book is separated into different sections and each is illustrated fully

Ethnic Heritage and Colonial Influences
Spices and Ingredients
Master Recipe : Sri Lankan Curry Powder
Master Recipe : Sri Lankan Seasoned Onions
Menu Suggestions

Includes dishes such as Chinese Rolls, Patties, Tangy Shrimp on Toast

Includes dishes such as Omelette, Ginger-Garlic Chicken, Beef Smore, Black Pork Curry

Includes dishes such as Crab Curry, Spicy Fried Fish, Devilled Shrimp

Includes dishes such as Green Mango Curry, Cauliflower Poriyal, Green Bean Varai

Includes dishes such as Coconut Sambol, Coriander Soup, Leeks fried with Chilli

Includes dishes such as Golden Rice Pilaf, Savoury Rice Pancakes, Stringhoppers

Includes dishes such as Chai, Mango Lassi, Fresh Sweet Lime Juice

Includes dishes such as Marshmallows, Spiced Coconut Custard, Mango Fluff

Making Stringhoppers / Marshmallows / Curry 

Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages.  The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.
Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and also founded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal ( She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit ( and The Speculative Literature Foundation (  She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog.  Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov's, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies.  2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib.
Social Media Links –
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