Chocolate-Covered Surprise

I came downstairs the other day, and found Kevin and the kids had done this. Reader, I ate them.

(Okay, not all of them. But a goodly portion.)

(I realized the ‘them’ was an unclear referent. I trust you can figure out what I meant…)

Banana Scones with Cranberry & Crystallized Ginger, Glazed with Jaggery & Brown Butter

Okay, so the banana scones I’d made, I realized, were actually pretty darn good, especially with candied ginger and dried cranberry stirred in, but they still needed SOMETHING. Maybe a glaze would be the answer? Usually I don’t necessarily want a glaze on scones, but a lot of the time that’s because I find store-bought scones in America too sweet already. But this batch was more like the scones I had in Dublin, not very sweet at all, and so a drizzle of glaze over the top might be just the thing.

But what kind of glaze? Some people do a maple glaze on banana scones, and that’d be fine, but I was craving something different. Maybe a brown butter glaze? Oh yes, that would work. So I made a little brown butter (more than I needed, but y’know, there are many ways to enjoy brown butter, so having a little extra in the fridge is not a bad thing). And then I made a brown butter glaze with powdered sugar, etc., and put it on a scone, and yes, that was good. Very good. I could have stopped there. But I wanted more. MORE.

I wanted a jaggery & brown butter glaze. I’d never seen such a thing, but surely it would be good? The dark, complex notes of jaggery — like brown sugar, but more so. Mmm… But glazes are typically made with powdered sugar — would jaggery actually powder? It has more moisture than white table sugar…

…and though I ran it through a food processor, my assumption was correct — it didn’t actually want to powder. Well. I tried making the glaze anyway, with the fine-ground jaggery (after food-processing, it was pretty much the same as what came out of the package, so no need for that step). And the flavor — SO YUM. But there was still a little graininess, which made me sad. But you know what, people? I have a microwave.

Thirty seconds in the microwave, and that was the answer. The last of the jaggery dissolved into the brown butter mixture, and I was left with a liquid dark deliciousness that was PERFECT for drizzling on a banana scone. I ended up doing a criss-cross pattern, actually — first the regular brown butter glaze, crossed with the jaggery brown butter glaze. And it is so, so tasty.


Banana Scones with Cranberry & Crystallized Ginger,
Glazed with Jaggery & Brown Butter

This makes two standard batches, so approximately 32 mini scones or 16 traditional. Once the batter is made, any portion of it can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for another day; scones are best made fresh, if possible!


1 cup very ripe banana, about 3 bananas (I usually frozen ones that I’ve thawed; we toss them in the freezer when they start to go, so we always have plenty on hand for scones and bread)
1 extra-large, extra-ripe banana, mashed (1/2 cup)
2/3 c. heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 t. vanilla
4 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed jaggery (or dark brown sugar)
5 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (it’s important that it be cold)
1 c. chopped cranberries (unsweetened is ideal)
1 c. chopped crystallized ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, blend the banana, cream, beaten egg, and vanilla.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, jaggery, baking powder, and salt. Add the cold sliced butter — you can use a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers (but you have to work fast, so the butter stays in little chunks and doesn’t start to melt from the heat of your hands). Alton Brown uses a food processor for this, which also works fine. You’re aiming to break up the butter into lots of little pieces distributed all through the dough.

3. Combine with the banana mixture and the cranberries and ginger, stirring with a wooden spoon until all the dough has been moistened and it’s well-blended.

4. At this point, you can either spoon it into a scone mold (spray first with some Baker’s Joy to guarantee a smooth release, although the butter in the scones usually is sufficient here), or place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If the latter, pat it into a circle, and then cut the circle into eight equal triangles.

5. Bake until golden brown and cooked through (about 16-22 minutes, depending on the size of your scones). Turn scones out on to a wire rack to cool.

You could just eat them straight up, sliced in half and slathered with butter, which would be quite good. OR, you can let them cool completely, and then glaze:


3/4 c. ground jaggery
1 T + 2 t. whole milk
1 T brown butter, melted
1/8 t. vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Whisk together the jaggery, milk, brown butter, vanilla, and salt. If the resulting mixture is a little grainy, microwave for about 30 seconds and stir; it should dissolve nicely.

2. Let it cool a little, so it thickens slightly — maybe 10 minutes? Then drizzle the tops of the cooled scones with the jaggery glaze. (If you want to do what I did, make a second batch of glaze with powdered sugar instead of jaggery, and then you can criss-cross the glazes; let the white glaze set before drizzling with the jaggery glaze.)

Slather with butter, if you like. Fabulous with hot tea.

Anonymous Donor Book Giveaway for A Feast of Serendib!

Anonymous Donor Book Giveaway for A Feast of Serendib!
March 2020
People are reaching out with wonderful, creative ways of helping. Two anonymous donors have offered to help make A Feast of Serendib available to people who want the book but can’t afford to buy it right now. Together these generous folks have donated a total of $1,000 in books for this purpose!
To make the donations go as far as possible, and because we want everyone to be able to access the book in the format that is best for them, we’ve dropped the price too, so we can offer a combination of 15 hardcovers and 30 paperbacks; Serendib Press will match the physical book donations with 50 additional eBook copies as well.
From one of the anonymous donors: “I’m doing this because I have found Mary Anne’s cookbook to be so key in helping me feed myself good food this year and I want other people to be able to care for themselves in the same way.”
We’re going to do this on a first come, first serve basis, for people who want the book but can’t afford to buy it right now, on the honor system. Physical books can only be shipped within the U.S., but eBooks are available internationally!
If you’d like a copy of the book, please comment on the post at the link below and let us know if you’d prefer hardcover, paperback, or eBook. We’ll contact you within a day or two to get your mailing information.
(The paperback doesn’t have photos in the book, but comes with a link to a full web archive of color photos. The eBook reviews indicate that people are finding it works really well for them as an option for a tablet, esp. on a stand in the kitchen.)
$500 x 2 = $1,000
15 Hardcovers = $450 — 13 left
Discounted to $30 each
30 Paperback = $450 — 27 left
Discounted to $15 each
50 eBooks
Mary Anne’s matching contribution
Feast is now an Amazon bestseller! Woot!
1) ORDERING: You can order A Feast of Serendib (signed / personalized, if you like) directly from me right now, at, or from my publisher, Mascot Books: The limited release paperback can only be ordered directly from my website. If you’re in the U.S., you can also add on my hand-roasted Sri Lankan curry powder.
A Feast of Serendib launched officially March 6, 2020, and we hope it’ll be widely available in bookstores and libraries. You can request it from your local bookstore or library! Please do! It’ll also be available on Amazon US, UK, and Canada; you can order it online.
978-1-64543-275-3 Hardcover (distributed by Ingram)
978-1-64543-377-4 ebook (on Amazon, etc.)
2370000696366 (trade paperback; only available directly from me, at Serendib Kitchen site; you can also buy the hardcover or ebook there)
2) REVIEW OR BUY IT HERE (reviews are hugely helpful in boosting visibility!):
3) JOIN THE COOKBOOK CLUB: If you’d like to support the development of more mostly Sri Lankan recipes, I’d love to have you join the cookbook club — for $2 / month, you’ll get recipes delivered to your inbox (fairly) regularly: For $10 / month, you can subscribe for fabulous treats mailed to you! (US-only).

My personal FB page:
Serendib Kitchen blog:

Serendib FB Group:

Serendib FB Page:
5) PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY starred review: “Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), a literature professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, introduces readers to the comforting cuisine of Sri Lanka in this illuminating collection of more than 100 recipes. Waves of immigration from China, England, the Netherlands, and Portugal influenced the unique cuisine of Sri Lanka, Mohanraj writes, as evidenced by such dishes as Chinese rolls (a take on classic egg rolls in the form of stuffed crepes that are breaded and fried); fish cutlets (a culinary cousin of Dutch bitterballen fried croquettes); and English tea sandwiches (filled here with beets, spinach, and carrots). With Sri Lanka’s proximity to India, curry figures heavily, with options for chicken, lamb, cuttlefish, or mackerel. A number of poriyal dishes, consisting of sautéed vegetables with a featured ingredient, such as asparagus or brussels sprouts, showcase a Tamil influence. Throughout, Mohanraj does a superb job of combining easily sourced ingredients with clear, instructive guidance and menu recommendations for all manner of events, including a Royal Feast for over 200 people. This is a terrific survey of an overlooked cuisine.”
Thanks so much for your support! Indie publishing is absolutely reliant on word of mouth and the support of friends, family, and friendly internet acquaintances.
— Mary Anne

Spring flash sale: Serendib Spring Surprise Boxes (US -only)

ALLITERATIVE FLASH SALE! Serendib Spring Surprise Boxes (US-only for this one, sorry!):
a) Small: a random assortment of sweets, postcards, and a handmade soap, plus an ebook of Feast (if you have one already, feel free to gift this) – $19.99 + $8 shipping and handling
b) Medium: same as small, plus bath salts, a paperback of Feast & a 4 oz. bag of curry powder – $34.99 + $15 shipping and handling
c) Large: same as medium, plus body butter, a hardcover of Feast and an 8 oz. jar of curry powder – $54.99 + $20 shipping and handling
Comment on the *main post* to order; I’ll confirm in comments and give you info on payment options. I think I can do about 15-20 boxes, based on the supplies I have on hand; it’s a little hard to estimate, since I don’t know what size boxes people will go for.

Go HERE to order:
We’re hoping to get the Shopify set up in the next few weeks, which will make it easier to ship internationally, etc. So if that’s you, hang in there — though I’ll have to do more research on what’s involved on shipping food internationally before I can offer that, so that bit might be quite a while.

Patreon boxes going out

Had a weird morning — I woke up at 7, per usual, went back to sleep, and didn’t wake up again ’til 11. I had tried taking a sleep aid last night, doxylamine succinate, so I’m guessing it was a combo of that + being really underslept the last few days, mostly due to free-floating stress. I feel more rested, which is good, but also a little groggy.
But I did get the Patreon subscription boxes finished and out the door, so that was good — I totally would not have been on top of it, but


has been keeping my little indie business on track. So helpful! Hopefully they’ll bring subscribers a little joy. I’m starting to think about what to put in the June subscription box — I think I shouldn’t ship chocolate that late in the year, so maybe shortbread and other cookies, plus some passionfruit caramels? My violas and pansies are blooming — I should pick and candy some of those. Hmm….

We were also shipping out 5 hardcovers of Feast from the latest GoodReads giveaway — hopefully they lead to a lot of happy cooking. If you do cook from Feast, I’d love to see photos! Tag me in, please. I think we could all use some happy cooking photos right now.
And of course, reviews are always welcome at GoodReads, Amazon, etc. I just checked and Feast currently has 12 (!) 5-star reviews. You guys. I am verklempt. Various people have asked me recently how the cookbook release is going, and honestly, I’ve barely had time to even think about it this last week — it seems like such a low priority, in the face of coronavirus. And yet — we have to eat.
I also realized this morning that I have enough sweets and soaps left that I should probably do a flash sale and get those out the door. I had made quite a few sweets for cookbook launch events this month that I’ve now cancelled. So see the next post for details on that!

Anonymous Donation

Someone just sent me $500 to buy and have us give away cookbooks to people who wanted mine and couldn’t afford it; they want to encourage people to learn how to cook, and they wanted to support my cookbook at the same time. Anonymous donation.

That’s lovely. Sometimes people just make your heart sing.

We’ll figure out the logistics and post about it soon.

Goodreads giveaway ends today! Win a hardcover copy of Feast!

Two quick but urgent cookbook notes:

1) our current GoodReads giveaway ends today! If you’re in America / Canada, you could win one of 5 hardcover copies — enter for free here: (please spread the word, if you’re so inclined!)

2) my publisher, Mascot Books, just sent me a note saying that Amazon is prioritizing medical and other important household needs and deprioritzing stocking / shipping everything else. Which I fully support, for the record, though it will be hard for many micro businesses; we need those essentials to move out quickly, especially for those in marginalized and underprivileged communities.

– You’re still more than welcome to buy through Amazon (which also helps keep my Amazon numbers up and therefore makes the book more visible on Amazon and more likely to be picked up by casual browsing shoppers (and of course, there’s no delay in ebooks!)

– But if you’d like it sooner (maybe because you’re stuck at home and thinking now is a good time to get more into cooking?), you can order directly from the Mascot Books site, or from my Serendib Kitchen site, and we’ll likely ship it out to you faster.

– If you order from me, you also have the option of getting it signed / personalized, and if you’re in the U.S., you can add on some hand-roasted small batch Sri Lankan curry powder.

More book details in comments!

How we made 1 dish into 5 different meals this week

Okay, cooking lesson to distract myself from reading news obsessively.

How we made 1 dish into 5 different meals this week:

1. CHICKEN WITH RICE AND GREEN BEANS. While I was out of town, Kevin made my ginger-garlic chicken for the kids. (I don’t have any details on that, but I assume he followed my basic simple recipe — cut up chicken thighs, add some ground spices (ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt), sauté in hot oil. We make it probably once a week around here; the kids reliably love it, and that makes it a precious commodity. Serve with rice and a steamed or roasted vegetable. (I don’t have a picture of that from this weekend, but it’d be similar to the one at the recipe link below.)

2. CHICKEN, RICE, and GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. At some point Kev must have ordered takeout, because the next day, he turned the chicken into a casserole to use up leftover cooked rice. He added cut up green beans. I don’t know exactly what his process was, but probably something like put the chicken in a pan, probably with a little oil, start it sautéing, add the vegetables (cut up carrots, peas, bell pepper, pea pods would all also work great, ditto a bag of frozen mixed vegetables) and sauté them too, add the rice, probably add a little water to help the rice rehydrate (maybe adding some extra salt or other seasonings then), then stir until the water is evaporated. (Oh, I just asked him, and he said there was also a fair bit of butter. Smart man.)

NOTE: Don’t cook the veggies too long, or they’ll dull in color and become mushy and less flavorful; a few minutes is plenty.

3. SPICY CURRIED CHICKEN, VEGGIES & RICE. I came home the next day, and there was a fair bit left (he’d had a LOT of rice to use up), and I ate some, but after five days on the road, I was craving curry, and I wanted it hot.

(I keep thinking that I should do a cookbook promo challenge called “Can She Curry THAT?” Where people ask me to curry unusual food items, and I see what I can do. Shall I?)

I followed my basic approach to making a curry sauce — chop onion, sauté in oil with cumin seed and mustard seed. (I set half of it aside to use later. Spoon into a bowl, then transfer into a tupperware-type thing, or to a Ziplock bag for freezing.)

Add cayenne and Sri Lankan curry powder and salt. If I’d had tomatoes, I might have chopped and tossed some in, but without any on hand, I went with the standard shortcut of ketchup (which is just cooked down tomatoes with vinegar, salt, and sugar) + Worcestershire sauce (that bit of dried anchovy adds excellent umami), lime juice, and some water.

At this point, you have a basic Sri Lankan tomato-based curry sauce that you can slip many things into, such as hard-boiled eggs. Instead, I added the rice and chicken casserole, which had gotten a little dry (as rice things often do in the fridge), stirred it all together, and cooked it down a bit on medium high, stirring occasionally. That brought the rice back to a spicy, tomato-y, tangy goodness, soft and flavorful. I ate it for dinner Sunday night, breakfast and dinner on Monday, and breakfast today.

4. SPICY CURRIED CHICKEN, VEGGIES & RICE BOWL w/ FRIED EGG. By dinner today, I was getting just a little bored with it, even though I’m usually pretty tolerant of repeated food. (The lean grad school years would’ve been much more miserable otherwise, I suspect.) Eggs to the rescue! I took about 3 minutes to heat butter and fry an egg with salt and pepper. While it was frying, I microwaved some curried chicken & rice, tasted to make sure it didn’t need a squeeze of fresh lime (seemed good still, but sometimes it needs more lime), and then slipped the fried egg on top. When eating, I tried to get a little crispy, buttery egg white and golden, creamy yolk into every bite of curried chicken & rice — so good. And a pretty nutritious meal overall, since it still had plenty of protein and green veggies.

5. TBD. This one is a little bit of a cheat because I haven’t actually made it yet, but tomorrow, I plan to take the other half of the sautéed onions and do something with them. Probably a quick curried fish (maybe 10-15 minutes to make, with the onions ready in advance), although another good option would be to chop some green chilies and fry them in, then add some eggs for a nice scramble to go over buttered toast (5-10 minutes). Mmm….

Spices and flowers

I stopped by Sugar Beet Co-op this afternoon to get spices that I can toast in preparation for my Feast event there this Friday. From 4-7, I’ll be at a counter showing people how to grind spices to make a curry powder mix, and just talking about spices and South Asian food in general.

I thought about cancelling it, but since it’ll be 1-2 people at a time, most likely, and we still have very low incidence in my area, it doesn’t seem like a high-risk activity for Covid-19 transmission.

Plus, there’s a certain sense that of all the things I can be doing right now that might be helpful, teaching people how to make delicious, healthy food at home is surely one of the most useful. I picked up some flowers too, to cheer my mood. The woman at checkout commented that she envied my organization of spices, that she wished she knew how to cook. I told her to come to my workshop — it’s free!

Spices and flowers. They help.


You folks are so generous, and so kind

I am really very touched by all the friends and relatives who have gone to extra effort to boost Feast. I still can’t quite believe that we actually did get to Amazon bestseller status on launch day (even though I know that’s not nearly as hard to do as you might think). I mean, I was going to try, but to actually do it? Wow. I mean, WOW!

(It’s not #1 right this second, but that’s okay. As Hertz’s ads say, “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder!”)

Feast is also now up to 8 (!) 5-star reviews on Amazon. You folks are so generous, and so kind.

Thanks so much, everyone, for turning out and taking the time to talk up my project. Ping me when I can do the same for you! I want to hear about all your excellent work!