Finishing up the spring treat boxes

Finishing up the spring treat boxes — I think I want to make one more batch of chocolates, and one more batch of baked goods (I’m thinking orange & black pepper madeleines, dipped in chocolate, possibly), and then I’ll be ready to pack up and ship them, hopefully early this week. No treat boxes in the summer, because shipping has proven unreliable for me even with ice packs, so if you sign up (see comments), the next one goes out in early autumn. Pictured here, little Neapolitan chocolates (Callebaut white, ruby, and dark chocolate), and squares of Neapolitan chocolate with an array of mixed dried fruit.

There are a lot more Indian options on Grubhub

I’m so happy that I can get idli-sambar delivered to my house, which has never been possible before (per previous note, there are a lot more Indian options on Grubhub for us than there used to be!). I was a little hesitant to try getting masala dosa delivered, because I wasn’t sure it’d travel well going 30 minutes through rush hour traffic, but I’m probably going to try it sometime when it’s not rush hour, when it’ll take more like 15 minutes. South Indian delivery options! YAY! Tonight’s order from Siri Indian:
    • idli with sambar add-on, came with coconut chutney, DELICIOUS (one order has 3 idli)
    • mirchi bajji (fried chili) appetizer — eh. Maybe it was good when it was just fried, but after driving to us, this was very boring and dry. I had one bite and then left the rest for Kevin. Might be good with a sauce.
    • honey chili fried cauliflower appetizer — also eh, but mostly because it’s not really my sort of thing; I was curious. It’s from their Indo-Chinese fusion section, and it’s cauliflower battered and fried, in a slightly spicy sweet sauce. Someone else might love it, not for me.
    • fish curry — delicious, would happily order again
    • goat vindaloo — tasty, but the goat meat was both fatty and chewy, which, honestly, might be what goat meat is mostly like, it’s been a few years since I last had it, I think, and it wasn’t spicy enough to call it vindaloo in my opinion. But fine.
    • palak paneer — disappointingly salty, alas. Wouldn’t get again, which is a shame, because this is one of our Indian food stand-by dishes
    • garlic naan — good.
But did I mention the idli-sambar? 🙂 Next time, I might just get a double order of that.

Crab cake on Costco Thai Chili Mango chopped salad

It’s been a long, hard week, and you want something delicious and fancy, but also reasonably healthy, and also you don’t want to spend a lot of money, and also you want it to be fast. If you happen to have a bag of Costco Thai Chili Mango chopped salad kit on hand, this is what you do:

1) Go to Carnivore Oak Park and ask them for one of their luscious crab cakes ($9).

2) Come home and heat a little oil in a pan. While that’s heating, pull out the Costco salad and empty the greens, dried mango, nutty bits, and about half of the chili-mango dressing into a big bowl. Taste — if you want more dressing, you can add it, but about half was right for me.

3) Take crab cake and sear on one side for a few minutes, then sear on the other side for a few minutes. If you really want, you can try to brown the edge a tiny bit too, but that’s hard to do without it falling apart, and it’s really not necessary.

4) Place crab cake on salad. If you have some fresh tomato, slice it and add it to the place. If you have fresh ripe mango, even better, but that can be hard to come by in Chicago in the winter.

Enjoy your little feast. (If you are feeding two, just make two crab cakes — the salad will likely be enough for two. Although it comes in a two-pack, so if you really want, you can make two bags of salad…)

Chicken curry and chili leeks

Didn’t sleep well last night, which is very frustrating, because while I made it through teaching okay, I’ve just been dragging since 3 p.m., too tired to do anything. But lying on the couch not doing things (and playing Polytopia while watching re-runs of New Girl with Kavi) eventually just makes me feel depressed. Gah.

I finally managed to eat some dinner, which helped, and Kevin made me tea, which helped, and then I came up and lay in bed instead of on the couch, and looked for a dumb but pretty movie to watch, and settled on Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, which is kind of perfect because what sounds really nice right now is jetting off to a foreign country, ideally a warm one.

She’s just made it to India, and I’m rested enough to pause and post a few photos off my phone from the last few weeks, clearing it out a little, which is sort of like being productive.

This is a mix of basmati and Sri Lankan red rice, served with chicken curry and chili leeks.

Hard day, made comfort food.

Hard day, made comfort food. Amma cooked this for us at least once every other week, I think, when I was growing up — rice, a meat dish, and a vegetable curry for dinner every night.


Sri Lankan Carrot Curry

(20 minutes, serves 4)

3 medium onions, chopped
3 TBL vegetable oil
1 T ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 Thai green chilies, chopped fine
1/2 tsp black mustard seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
six large carrots, sliced into thin coins
1 rounded tsp salt
1/2 t. turmeric
1 cup coconut milk (can use milk instead, but be extra careful not to curdle)

1. Sauté onions in oil on high with mustard seed, cumin seed, and ginger until onions are golden. Add garlic, carrots and salt. Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently, until carrots are cooked through.

2. Stir in coconut milk and turn heat down to low; simmer until well-blended, stirring constantly. Serve hot.

You might win a free cookbook!

Remember, if you cook two recipes from Vegan Serendib this week, you might win a free cookbook!

Contest details here:

The cookbook is also on sale this last week of January, 30% off:


Eggplant Sambol / Kaththarikkai Sambol

(1 hour prep, 20 minutes cooking, serves 8.)

My vegetarian friends are particularly fond of this dish. It offers a bright note, with its raw onion and lime juice, that wakes up a plate of rice and curry.

    • 1 eggplant
    • 1 rounded tsp. salt
    • 1 rounded tsp. ground turmeric oil for deep frying
    • 3 fresh green chilies, sliced thin
    • 1 medium onion, sliced thin lime juice
    • 1⁄4 cup coconut milk, optional

1. Cut eggplant into quarters lengthwise and then slice thinly. Rub with salt and turmeric, spread on a few layers of paper towels and leave at least 1 hour. Bitter water will rise to the surface of the eggplant; blot that water with more paper towels. This will make for much tastier eggplant.

2. Heat about an inch of oil in a deep frying pan and fry eggplant slices slowly until brown on both sides. Lift out with Chinese spider (mesh metal spoon) and put in a dry bowl.

3. Mix with remaining ingredients; serve warm.

Veganuary 2024 Challenge!

Veganuary 2024 Challenge!

This is a one-week challenge to cook a few new vegan Sri Lankan dishes, and get a prize. 🙂 Here’s how it works:

1) I’m posting a selection of recipes from my Sri Lankan cookbook, Vegan Serendib (which Food Network named one of their Top 10 Vegan Cookbooks of 2022):

2) If you cook and post photos (to this thread) of two recipes in the next week, between today and Wednesday, January 31, 2024, you’ll get a free digital copy of the cookbook sampler, with 40 vegan Sri Lankan recipes (that were developed for Vegan Serendib, so they’re not included in my previous cookbook, A Feast of Serendib).

3) You’ll ALSO be entered into a drawing for a digital + paperback edition of the full cookbook for that week.

4) If you make THREE recipes, you’ll ALSO be entered into a drawing for a digital + hardcover edition of the full cookbook. (Note — some of the recipes are very fast and easy! Like rice cooked in coconut milk!)

5) If you cook two dishes and ALSO ‘like’ this post, you’ll be entered twice.

6) If you cook two dishes and ALSO share this post, you’ll be entered again for the share.
Ready? Set? Go!

(The full cookbooks can be purchased online in my shop (, at Amazon, and locally at Berwyn Sprout and Carnivore Oak Park. They can also be ordered through your local independent bookstore or library!)