Montreal Coverage for Feast

Woot — Montreal coverage for Feast! This is our first international coverage aside from the actual Sri Lankan coverage, so lovely to see. Canada peeps, look!…/six-oclock-solution-beet…

Although I have to note, someone wrote a subhead that says: “If you can’t find curry leaves, you can substitute them with lime zest and basil leaves in this recipe for beet curry,” and I disagree. If you can’t find curry leaves (they can be ordered online at Amazon and elsewhere), leave them out. I haven’t found anything that replicates that particular flavor.

And in fact, in the article itself, the writer includes this:

“Shopping for the essential seasonings is easiest in Indian stores, but supermarkets increasingly stock these products, says Mohanraj, who includes one of the best ingredient chapters I have ever seen in a book. Avoid yellow curry powder; Sri Lankans use dark-roasted, and she includes a recipe so you can make your own. Curry leaves come fresh, frozen or dried; if you can’t find them, skip them, Mohanraj directs.”

They also changed my recipe a bit, adding this parenthetical:

“green chilies (jalapeño, Anaheim, banana or poblano)”

Um, no. Serrano is your best bet for something readily available in North America, and what you’re ideally looking for is green fingerhot chilies. I wouldn’t use Anaheim, banana, or poblano, which have very different and distinct flavors.

I hope I’m not being churlish here — I do appreciate the coverage, very much. But it’s a little distressing seeing them leading people astray, flavor-wise. I know they want to be helpful, but I wish they’d dropped me a note to check these changes.

Six O’Clock Solution: Beet curry straight from Sri Lanka

Think of curry with a salty-sour-sweet taste and a bit more heat than in Indian cuisine, and you have the most popular dish from Sri Lanka, the island off the coast of India that was once a crossroads of European exploration and trade.

The Vegan Serendib Timeline

I woke up thinking about how goofy it was to be pushing so hard to get out Vegan Serendib for Christmas. I mean, yes, we COULD do it, and Christmas sales are significant. But it would be very hard, and not done well in terms of promotion.

I ended up sending this message to the Serendib Press team on Slack, copying it here in case anyone is interested in how a teeny tiny press figures out a little bit more about how we ought to be doing things.

We’ll make it to professional eventually. Someday, I’d love to publish other peoples’ books too, but I figure we should make all the mistakes on my books first. 🙂


Hey, team. So I’ve been thinking about the timeline for Vegan Serendib and I think it’s putting too much time pressure on all of us to get that done, especially me and Stephanie, and there’s really no reason we have to have it for Christmas. We might get a few extra Christmas sales, but it’s not worth doing it badly or killing ourselves.

So I had another thought — since this is the second edition, one thing we could do is set a launch date for say, May 1, 2021, which gives us a proper six-month timeline for promotion. You can start working now on the press releases for that, and start sending them in the next few weeks, giving us a chance at some magazine coverage. We won’t have physical copies to send out right away, but should have them by end of the year, I think.

And then another thing we can do is start taking pre-orders AND say that anyone who pre-orders we’ll immediately send them a digital copy of the first sampler edition of Vegan Serendib (bonus), so they can start cooking right away. Then they’ll get the full volume next May. I think overall, that makes a lot more sense. What do you think?

If we do this, then I think the next step is to ask Stephanie to go back through what we did for Feast, and make a calendar for what we’re aiming to have done each month in the next six months. Some of the things:

finalize 40 new recipes (MA)
retake photos as needed (MA)
revise intro materials (MA)
talk to Ingram Spark and figure out what they need and when (Stephanie)
draft new press release for Vegan (Stephanie?)
draft back cover copy for Vegan (Stephanie?)
ask Jeremy John Parker to do final cover design (and pay him) (Stephanie)
figure out who we want to send copies to for review (Stephanie)
put up pre-order page for Vegan (Stephanie?)

plan some kind of holiday promotion for both books (Stephanie)

redo interior design (Stephanie)
re-index (can we do this in house? Anyone here interested in learning how to index?)

copyedit and proofread (Darius or Emmanuel or both? check with Jed re: errors from Feast we want to correct here too)

keep making cooking videos — maybe one every two weeks (MA and Darius)

start writing food essays and sending them out (MA, who needs deadlines for this clearly, so maybe one every two weeks)

JAN/FEB/MAR/APR/MAY (promotion):
set up virtual cooking classes?
book more virtual events?

depending on COVID, maybe an outdoor in-person event in May for launch day?

And heck, while we’re calendaring, we can look ahead to the NEXT book, which should be Gluten-Free Serendib. Let’s say we aim for December 1, 2021 launch of that.


develop recipes for GF (MA)

design / index / copyedit / proofread book (Stephanie and team)

draft press releases for GF, update press database, send out first wave


Feast Featured in Publishers Weekly

A Feast of Serendib was featured in Publishers Weekly’s Holiday Gift Guide under Cookbooks!

Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Nonfiction

These stellar books reveal the lives of myriad artists and writers, from rock stars to sommeliers and literary luminaries. Borges and Me: An Encounter Jay Parini (Doubleday) ISBN 978-0-385-54582-2, $27.95 In this astute memoir, novelist Parini writes of leaving Pennsylvania in 1971 to pursue a PhD in literature at St.

Another Venue

The McKay article about Feast made it to another venue, the Roanoake Times:…/article_f434d713-fd26-58b7-9379…


The flavorful, and often overlooked, foods of Sri Lanka

Mary Anne Mohanraj missed a lot of things when she went off to college, but the thing she was most homesick for was her mother’s cooking. When her parents immigrated to Connecticut from Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1973, they brought with them their fiery curries, coconut sambols and countless rice dishes.

Spoonflower is Addicting

Happiness is shipping out lots of Patreon treat boxes + one special order. 🙂 I have to spend the morning on e-mail & teaching work, but this afternoon, more mask sewing!

And I have the most CHARMING new autumn fabrics from Spoonflower (that site, so addicting!), as well as Halloweeen fabrics (which will need to be ordered soon if you actually want them for Halloween), so watch this space.

Photos with detailed names and notes for all of those should be posted later today…but here, I’ll throw the thumbnails in here, just give you a sneak peek. So pretty!

The Coconut Grater

It hurt. That’s what I remember
about scraping coconut as a child,
struggling with dark metal clamped
to the edge of the kitchen counter,
afraid of the sharp grating blades.
My arm, unmuscled and unaccustomed,
ached after just a few cranks round;
my mother mostly offered critique,
rather than praise for my efforts. Too often
I would scrape and scrape, ask if I had done
enough. She came to inspect, sniffed –
there is so much meat left on there still!
I’d try again, and err in the other direction –
no, no – don’t scrape it so thin, you’re getting
husk in the coconut! Amma would have
excelled in a classic French kitchen,
exacting and precise, demanding perfection,
always disappointed in my failures.
I went away, and for years subsisted
without coconut. When I started to cook,
I bought sweetened coconut by mistake
in the baking aisle, and ruined a curry.
Eventually, I found dessicated coconut,
learned to rehydrate it with a little hot milk,
or better, coconut milk – just thirty seconds
in the microwave. Ammama, my grandmother
in the old country, had no such devices.
Frozen coconut is better, found on Devon or
in Westmont, where South Asians gather,
though once you thaw it, you must use it all
quick quick; it won’t keep long in the fridge.
Ammama didn’t grate her own coconut.
Labor was cheap; every morning, their cook
rose early to grate coconut for the day,
fresh from the tree. A little pol sambol to
accompany a fresh egg hopper, and another
servant chasing me around, begging me
to eat, just one bite, please. If I ate,
they could have their own breakfast, finally.
Now, living near cold Chicago, I shop online
for a coconut grater. I peruse suspiciously,
read reviews, trying to decide whether
to go old-school or modern in design.
A part of me doesn’t trust that ergonomic
will grate correctly; a little pain is required
to create the tastiest dishes.
When it arrives, I will try to persuade
my own children to help me grate
the coconut. Not because I need the help
of their unmuscled, unaccustomed arms!
But if they grind a little sense-memory
into their bones, then someday, maybe
they will buy their own grater, knowing
fresh coconut is best. It will sustain you

down the years, across vast distances.


M.A. Mohanraj

Logo Design, Draft 2

Kavi’s and my logo design for Serendib Kitchen, draft 2. I think it’s pretty close at this point to a workable draft! We invite your critique to refine it further.

The text is in my handwriting, which is not the most beautiful, but does gives some of that homemade charm, or at least so Kavi assures me.

The first is the actual logo. The second version, with the words on the rug, I’m not sure we’ll use, but it did make me laugh because it reminds me of the Star Wars scroll, so wanted to share it.

The circle is just starting to futz around with what might make a nice small image for a sticker or a design element on a book or some such. I think we’re going to make the line weight heavier on the SK — I was getting sleepy at 11 p.m. last night, so I made her stop working…

As a side note, I’m really liking collaborating with her on art stuff — we’re working on a 2021 tea towel calendar for the next Spoonflower design contest now — and I’m now thinking that if we keep doing a lot of projects together, maybe we need our own little design studio that has a different name, not Serendib, to make clear that it’s at least half if not more her. Something to think about. 🙂

Like a Freight Train

I made up little packets of apology postcards and stickers to go out with these book / curry powder orders. Sorry they took a few weeks longer than normal, folks. The semester fell on me like a freight train, but I’m getting up now. Whew.