Roti or Love Cake?

Roti or love cake?? Hey, bakers. So at Serendib Kitchen, we’re planning on two things coming up soon:

– a baking video created as a sort of joint demonstration / interview with Pooja Makhijani (probably no audience / participants for this one)

– a bake-a-long (up to 20 participants who sign up in advance, get the recipe and ingredients prepped, then bake together in a Zoom call)

The two options I’d like to do early on are:

a) roti

b) love cake

If you have a preference for which of those we do for the bake-a-long, let me know? Thanks!

The bake-a-long will be held at 7 p.m. CST on either a weeknight / Sunday, at the request of Gin Grahame, who is in a far away time zone.  If you have a preference for a particular weeknight / Sunday, let me know that too.

This first one will be free, but later ones may morph into paid classes. First time around, you are my guinea pigs. 

Hoping for a Quiet Night

Hope everyone reading had a quiet night. I was grieved to read of a death at the North Riverside mall yesterday; I hope we can swiftly move forward towards justice without further bloodshed.

It’s the last week of school here; I woke up before Anand for a change, and decided to exert myself a bit to make a nice breakfast — waffles and sausages. The kids have done okay with remote / unschooling during the pandemic, but they’ll be relieved when it’s over, and so will we. I thought they could use a little strengthening food as we contend with the final week.

I’ve recently discovered that waffles + seeni sambol + syrup = delicious. You don’t even need butter, as there’s enough oil / ghee in the seeni sambol. It’s so good, if I had a little cafe, I’d put it on the brunch menu. Serve with fresh mangoes if you can.

Plan for today — finish reading Sorcerer to the Crown, which continues a delightful, ridiculous romp. The next book in my queue is the graphic novel, Vanni, centered on the Sri Lankan conflict, which is rather more somber; it helps to have something light to interleave between the darker pages. A little sweetness.

Exercise soon and a walk through the garden, then by 9, I hope to be settled in my writing shed for the first day of summer writing. Minimal goal of 1000 words for the day (about an hour of writing), although I’m hoping to get quite a bit more done, as I have a story overdue to my local workshop; if I can knock that out today, or at least enough of it to be worth showing them, I will. It’s a story about riots and revolution; hoping I have the heart and mind to do it justice.

Wishing you strength and sweetness for your battles today, and rejuvenating rest when you need it.

So, if You Remember

So, if you remember, I made some badly-overcooked cod. I can’t stand throwing out food, but I also hate eating bad food. I was hoping I could figure out a way to make it vaguely palatable, so I went looking, and it seemed like the uses for overcooked cod mostly fell into one of these three options:

– mashing them up with potatoes, maybe rolling in bread crumbs, and frying them into a cutlet / patty kind of thing
– chopping them up with mayo, etc. for a fish salad kind of thing
– making kedgeree

Well, kedgeree was way more attractive to me than the first two, so I was obviously going to go with that.

“According to “Larousse Gastronomique”, what we call kedgeree originated from a concoction of spiced lentils, rice, fried onions and ginger known as khichiri dating back to the 14th century and eaten across India. The early colonists developed a taste for it, as it reminded them of nursery food. Both khichiri and fish became mainstays of the Raj breakfast table and, in time, their Indian cooks integrated the two. Eggs, believed to have been introduced to the Indian kitchen repertoire by conquering Mughals centuries earlier, were later added as a garnish. When the dish travelled back to Edwardian country homes, via letters and regiments, the lentils were usually left out and flaked smoked haddock added in (the Scots take credit for this). Florence Nightingale and Queen Victoria were especially partial to kedgeree.” – 1843 Magazine

I had another problem, though — I’d made a lot of marinade for the fish, and I didn’t want to waste it. All that good onion-ginger-garlic-spiced goodness! So I wanted to turn it into a sauce. Now, remember, you had raw fish sitting in that marinade, so if you do this, be sure to bring it up to a boil for at least five minutes at some time in the process.

But what I did was start with heating oil in a pan, adding the marinade, and trying to sort of sauté it, because the raw onion-ginger-garlic was very intense. That sort of worked? Even after ten minutes or so of sautéing, it was still fairly intense. But then I added some chopped cherry tomatoes, some ketchup, some coconut milk, checked the seasonings, and simmered it all for a while, and eventually, it turned into a reasonable curry sauce.

Then it was just a matter of flaking the fish (it looks nice, doesn’t it? You can’t tell it’s rubbery by looking), adding some frozen peas, simmering that together for a bit, and then stirring in rice and hard-boiled eggs. Kedgeree!

Now, would I serve this to anybody else? No. Because the fish is still chewy and sad. But it’s in tiny shreds and at least sufficiently disguised by everything else that I’m now willing to eat it, and this rest of it is delicious, so we’re going to call this a win.


Kind of a Disaster

So, this was kind of a disaster, trying to make Sri Lankan marinated cod, baked in banana leaves, because the fish itself did not cook well. But the overall *process* was okay, I think, so I’m documenting.

I started with some onions, ginger, garlic, finger hot chilies, pureed them in the food processor, added lime juice to make a marinade. Also seasonings. So far, so good, right?

The tricky part was adding the cod to the marinade. I’m not so familiar with this process, but I googled, and instructions said marinate at least 30 minutes, but longer is fine. And I was busy that day, so I ended up marinating for 4 hours or so. Which I think was bad, because I think it essentially half-cooked the cod, like ceviche.

Another problem was that the cod has been previously frozen, and I’ve done a lot of cooking fish from frozen before, like tilapia, but apparently it is trickier to cook cod from frozen? At least when I googled afterwards, I found a lot of people complaining about it.

The sadness here is that the end result had good flavor, but the texture of the fish was terrible. It looks fine, but that’s a lie — even the nice, flaky-looking fish is actually rubbery-sad.

I might try this again sometime, but if I do, I’m going to try it with fresh cod, and only marinate for 30 minutes (before baking for 15-20), and see whether that takes care of it.

I was so excited. Sigh.

Chicken with Veggies and Rotini

I don’t really have a recipe for this, more of a process? This is a pretty standard thing I make for the family almost every week, and as people are getting a little bored with their pandemic cooking, thought this might be useful.


Chicken with Veggies and Rotini, maybe in a Cream Sauce, if you feel like it, and you could also add a little Sausage or Shrimp (yeah, I don’t know what to title this one!)

1. Set some water boiling for pasta. Dice 1-2 onions, maybe some garlic if you’re feeling ambitious.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a big sauté pan, sauté onions / garlic for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. If you have the heat on medium-low, you can do the next step while this is going.

3. Cut up some chicken thighs (much more flavorful and moist than breast). Turn the heat back up to high, stirring so the onions don’t burn, and add the chicken (and about a teaspoon of salt, plus some black pepper). Brown it a little bit, stirring, then turn heat back down to medium, and cook a few minutes longer, until chicken is cooked through. (If you want, you can also add some cut up Italian sausage at this point. Mmm….)

While that’s going, stirring occasionally, you can cut up veggies. I used bell pepper and pea pods for this, but you could do broccoli, carrots, whatever veggies you want, really. Frozen peas or mixed veg would also work fine.

4. Somewhere around here, the pasta water has probably come to a boil. Dump in a box of pasta and a bit of salt. Set a timer — for rotini, I think this was 7 minutes.)

5. If you want more of a sauce, at this point, you can sort of scooch chicken and onions over in the pan, making enough room that you can add a T of flour to the oil (add a little more oil if needed) and brown the flour for a minute. Then mix that all together, and add a little milk or cream, stirring to make a sauce. A little butter at this point wouldn’t hurt anything either. If you’re feeling super-fancy, simmer in a little white wine or sherry.

You can also skip this step; the result will be a little more dry, that’s all. If it’s too dry, add a little olive oil, at least.

6. Add the veggies, and at this point, you really don’t want it to cook for much longer, so the veggies don’t get mushy. My kids hate mushy veggies, and would generally prefer to just eat them raw, but I’m trying to get them to like cooked veg. too, so this dish is helping with that.

7. By now, the pasta timer is probably going off. Drain in, and then dump the pasta in with the chicken and veggies. Stir it around, and you’re basically done.

8. If you’re feeling ambitious, try grating some fresh Parmesan in at this point. Don’t try to use the cheese from the shaker — it has additives that make it not blend well into a sauce.

9. And if you’re like me, the only person in your family who likes shrimp, maybe you have some grilled shrimp in the fridge. Portion out some of the dish for your family, and then add the shrimp to what’s left, for you to enjoy. 

I Got to Use a Flamethrower

Kevin made creme brûlée for Kavi’s French-themed birthday, and Kavi got to try torching for the first time.

She excitedly texted her friends afterwards: “I got to use a flamethrower!” 

Plants + Food = Joy

The FB group I started for the local garden club has been wildly successful, up to almost 2000 happy members in just a few years. So, y’know, I decided to try starting a sister cooking club. Plants + food = joy.


This group was started as a sister group to the Garden Club of Oak Park-River Forest; all lovers of cooking are welcome to join, including neighbors from Chicago and nearby suburbs. Beginners welcome, and you don’t need to have be a good cook to join us!

Some of the things you could use this group for: recipe recommendations, requests for cooking advice, sharing a dish you’re proud of, asking where to find specialty ingredients, loaning out / borrowing specialty cookware, recommending good podcasts or TV shows about cooking….etc!

NOTE: This is an open public group, and will remain so, which means people outside the group can view your posts.

NOTE 2: If you have an ad for a cooking-related business, please post no more than once / month; we recommend on the 15th. Thanks!

Join us here:

Birthday Lunch Crepes

Birthday lunch crepes! In addition to the chicken filling and the apple filling, we put out lemons and sugar, plus Nutella. I would’ve sliced some bananas to go with the Nutella, but we didn’t have those on hand. Oh well!

I was very happy with first a chicken-and-Emmenthaler crepe, then apples-and-Emmenthaler, then finishing with a perfect lemon-sugar. Kevin and Kavi did similarly, but Anand — oh, Anand is our experimental cook. He did one crepe with Nutella and apples and Emmenthaler (he LOVES cheese), which is reasonable enough. But then he did one with Nutella and sautéed chicken and Emmenthaler.

I mean, a chocolate molé sauce is great on chicken, so he’s not SO far off adding Nutella, I guess? But I don’t think I’d do it. Anand did conclude that he would’ve liked that one better without the chicken. 

We Went with Crepes

For Kavi’s birthday trip-to-France-themed lunch, we went with crepes. I love a crepe selection, personally, and when we did it for Sunday dinner, the kids had a lot of fun deciding what they wanted in their crepes. Normally I’d do a spinach-feta filling (sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, add chopped spinach (thawed from frozen works great, if you squeeze out the extra moisture), salt and pepper, stir in the feta), but we were out of spinach AND feta. Oh well. 

I did a chicken filling instead. Sauté 1 chopped onion in a few T butter, stirring ’til golden, add bite-size pieces of chicken thighs, 5-6 thighs (I could have cut it a little smaller, but was in a bit of a rush, and this worked fine), 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper. Sauté until chicken is browned and cooked through, then add 1/4 c. heavy cream and simmer until well-blended and the cream has thickened into a sauce. Mmm…

Kevin diced up some apples and we sautéed those in butter too (separate pan), adding a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Both of those go well with Swiss cheese, if you feel like adding that — we used Emmenthaler, because we had some on hand, and it was delicious.