#BlogTour #Review #AFeastOfSerendib

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.

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My Review

I’m thrilled to be sharing my review today of A Feast of Serendib.  I do enjoy looking through a cookbook and trying a few of the recipes, but some of them are really complicated with very complex recipes and ingredients.  This book was lovely to browse through and had some really delicious sounding recipes featured in it.

Written by Mary Anne Mohanraj, this Sri Lankan cookbook was initially written as a Christmas Present to the author’s mother, featuring some of her own recipes.   After moving to America, the recipes have been adapted over time to take into account some of the ingredients which were a little harder to get hold of.  Thanks to this, the list of ingredients now consist mainly of items which many of us will find in our cupboards or are easily available at local supermarkets, although some you may have to visit specialist supermarkets for.

There is a wide array of different recipes to try, coming under different types of food.  There are sections for appetizers and snacks; eggs, poultry and meat; fish and seafood; vegetables; accompaniments; grains; drinks and sweets.  Honestly, if you can’t find anything that tickles your taste buds then you’re not looking hard enough, because there has to be a recipe in here for everyone!  The instructions for each recipes are clear, understandable and simple enough for even the most amateur of cooks to do.  There are pictures of the recipes, but personally I would have liked more pictures because, for me, that’s what really entices me is seeing the food in all its cooked glory!!

All in all, it’s a lovely cookbook filled with lots of tantalising and tasty offerings. I can’t wait to try out the beef and potato curry as it’s my favourite dish out of the whole book!   A word of warning, the measurements in the recipes are written in American terminology, which may be a bit confusing for us British readers.  I know, for one, I get confused about the terminology of ‘one cup’ as I have cups in my cupboard of varying sizes!!  It is certainly a recipe book which I would definitely recommend and will make a welcome addition to anyone’s bookshelves. 

The Author

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 alsofounded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com). 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 (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org).  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, withher 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.

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