It was a real pleasure being one of FOGcon’s Honored Guests this year

My plane is starting its descent to Chicago, so I’m saying goodbye to FOGcon with a few last pics. It was a real pleasure being one of your Honored Guests this year, and I hope I gave good service on all that programming! I was so busy, I didn’t take any photos of people, just food!

(Yes, there was rather a lot on my schedule, but I was totally fine with it. You know I love any chance to talk to a crowd! Just teasing a bit…  )

All these meals at hotel because busy. Two photos of the asparagus & burrata with grilled shrimp, just because I couldn’t get all the pretty in one photo; delicious, with a balsamic vinaigrette. The poke bowl also good — such pretty daikon! And both Jed and I can recommend their chocolate torte with berries, though only I (delightedly) also enjoyed the guava sauce. Very nice cake for celebrating book launch!

Misconceptions about Sri Lankan food

Hey, quick q. I kind of what to do a post that’s something like “Five Things You Might Not Know About Sri Lankan Food,” although that’s clunky and I’d rather find a better title. (Suggestions welcome.)

But for example, I’ve been really startled to realize how many Americans assume all our food is spicy, and that it’s not worth eating if you don’t like heat, or if you can’t eat capsaicin, etc. So I want to write a paragraph about that, how you can modulate the spice level of almost any dish to your taste, and how you can use black pepper instead of capsaicin, etc.

I suspect there are a few more misconceptions out there, and of course, there’s also just things people don’t know because they’ve never thought about Sri Lankan food at all (from Chicago, I think the nearest Sri Lankan restaurant is 8 hours away in Minnesota).

I’m curious what I might be missing too. So if this is sparking something, like “Oh, I remember being surprised to learn *this* about Sri Lankan food,” I’d love to know what the *this* was for you.

This also goes to other Sri Lankans — what ideas / assumptions / misconceptions have you run across in this arena?

Heavily scheduled day at the con today

Aw, just read Debbie Notkin’s appreciation of me for the #FogCon program book, and it is the SWEETEST. I’m not sure if they have a digital edition I can link to, but I will at least take a photo of it and put it up when I have a moment to breathe.

It’s a heavily scheduled day at the con today, but I set out pretty well fortified, with my coffee in hand and all my geek accoutrements: Constellation shirt, check. Constellation backpack, check. Constellation notebook, check. My shoes don’t have constellations on them, but they are cheerful and colorful and feel on brand anyway. And yesterday I picked up a launch day present for myself for myself, these awesome silver rocket ship earrings. I’m extra geeky today!

Gorgeous earrings by Spring Schoenhuth of Springtime Creations. Her selections of rocket ships, astronauts and other geeky (and classy) silver jewelry is really lovely — she also has gorgeous Dr. Who, Firefly, etc. themed pieces. I ALSO picked up a pair of charming silver elephants for Feast in particular. Expect to see me rocking them at some book launch events.


– make some notes on what I want to discuss for my panel on non-profit organizing (and also probably running for office) after the banquet
– figure out what I’m reading for my reading @ 3
– do some addendums to Jump Space RPG that we’ll be play-testing over dinner

20 minutes before lunch. I can cram that all in, right? Okay, the third one might have to wait until after my reading; there’s a little break before we actually gather to play Jump Space. But I can get the other two done. If I don’t get distracted checking my Amazon numbers…


One nice thing about being heavily scheduled at a convention during my launch weekend is that I don’t have time to obsessively refresh Amazon every five minutes!

Another extra-nice thing is all the warm fuzzies from people (friends but also friendly strangers) being enthusiastic about the book. I would definitely launch a book at a convention again, even though it’s a little hectic and chaotic trying to do two things at once. It’s just so much warmer and more reassuring than sitting along at home in my office, staring at the screen wondering if anyone will actually buy the book.

Especially if you’re at a lovely, warm, intimate convention like FogCon, full of the best people having the most interesting conversations. I just finished my panel on archives and it was SO GOOD; we could have talked about all the issues we raised there for 2-3 more hours, easily.

[Sidebar for minor ADD note: This is the first convention where I’ve carried around a little notebook and pen so I can make notes while panelling, and I’m finding it SO helpful. It’s helping me keep my thoughts on track and relevant to the panel, I feel the urge to interrupt the other panelists less — sometimes the things I write down come up at a different point, sometimes not, and that’s okay — and I might even get some essays out of some of these notes down the line.

I wish someone had been able to explain to me in high school that note-taking would actually be REALLY USEFUL to me down the line. I try to communicate it to my college students, but I’m not sure how successful I am. I didn’t really even start learning how to study properly until I was 30; I just kind of coasted on being bright and doing all the reading and being able to follow the conversation easily, but there was a whole level of depth that I was missing for years and years. Oh well. We learn, we grow, we evolve, right?]

Okay, onwards.


Feast numbers on Amazon

Just in case you want to obsessively follow along numbers with me, Feast is currently up to #13 in the category of Indian Cooking, Food, and Wine. (#1 in New Releases in that category, woot!) I’m not sure how likely it is to climb higher ( I think Jed said that it was briefly at #10, but maybe has dipped down again?), but it is fun and exciting nonetheless.

Buying book editions, question for y’all.

Reading / buying books question for y’all. Harriet Culver, one of my Kickstarter backers, noted that she was feeling bad that she couldn’t buy the book on launch day because she already had a copy (which is goofy to feel guilty about but I love her for it), and then she realized she could buy the ebook on launch day, boosting it in the rankings, so she did that, and she says that she’ll even use it more, since her household is more likely to use a digital device in the kitchen. (I don’t even know Harriet, but clearly all writers should have friends and readers like her!)

But all that made me realize that I feel a little bad making people buy two editions. Hm. Will have to think this through a little. Stephanie is out of town this weekend, but when she gets back, I think she and I will talk about this with Heather. I sort of think if you buy the hardcover, I’d like you to also be able to get a copy of the ebook for personal use for a nominal extra fee — maybe $5 more or some such.

What do writer / publisher / reader people think?

I wish publishers did that kind of thing generally — if I buy a print edition of a book, have the option of also getting the Kindle edition for $5 more? I think I’d choose that a lot, esp. since I prefer print for having in my office to loan out to students, and for reading relaxedly in the house, or for taking to the beach, and I prefer Kindle for travel (and having a copy always on hand for teaching), but I can rarely convince myself to pay full price for two separate formats.


(Art print design by porcodiseno.)

All the cookbook ordering details

I was asked to make a public post with all the cookbook ordering details (instead of just putting them in a comment), so here it is.


1) ORDERING: You can order copies of A Feast of Serendib (signed / personalized, if you like) directly from me right now, at, or from my publisher, Mascot Books:…/coo…/regional/a-feast-of-serendib/. 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 now from your local bookstore or library! Please do! It’s also available on Amazon US, UK, and Canada; you can order it now 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!):


Barnes & Noble…/1135510523…


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:
My Twitter:
Serendib Kitchen blog:
Serendib Kitchen Instagram:
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 E
nglish 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

Jackfruit Curry / Palakai Kari

(30 minutes, serves 6)

Young jackfruit has a texture similar to meat, though softer; it’s more delicate, as is the flavor. It’s easy to find online in cans, packed in brine; it’s also often available at grocery stores, especially ones that cater to vegetarians. This savory curry sauce is identical to what I’d use for beef, but gives a notably different (and delicious) result when cooked with jackfruit instead. I’d serve this with rice, a green vegetable, and chutneys, pickles, and/or sambols.

2 medium onions, chopped fine
1 TBL ginger, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 TBL vegetable oil
1/4 tsp black mustard seed
1/4 tsp cumin seed
1 TBL red chili powder
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1 lb young jackfruit, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 TBL lime juice
1 cup coconut milk + 1 cup water

1. In a large pot, sauté onions, ginger, and garlic in oil on medium-high with mustard seed and cumin seeds until onions are golden/translucent (not brown), stirring as needed. Add chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring. Immediately stir in curry powder, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and lime juice.

2. Add jackfruit and stir on high for a few minutes. Add coconut milk and water, stirring gently to combine. Turn down to medium, and let cook 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally; add water if needed. Serve hot with rice or bread.

Sustain Me Well

I was so happy eating Roshani‘s salmon curry last night — I was exhausted and just couldn’t cope with cooking anything. I had rice in the fridge, and that was all I needed. And then I finished it off for breakfast today (I almost ate it all last night, because it was so good, even though I was full), and that was also very happy.

It’s reminding me that if I’m going to be really busy with book tour, I should take a day, plan ahead, and make up some healthy easy food for days like that. Otherwise I end up eating random crap, mostly boring starches because they’re easy to grab.

I’m thinking a big batch of fish curry, divided into freezer storage containers, plus bags of rice, also frozen. Maybe a big batch of frozen mixed vegetable poriyal too. That’ll sustain me, and sustain me well.

Subscription Box: March

Spent a few minutes this morning on the subscription boxes for Patreon. I’m pretty sure I can fit two chocolate bars, one set of sweets in a box, one chapstick, one little bag of bath salts, one little bag of curry powder, and a few postcards in there. Maybe a poem too, and/or a little floral bookmark?  Not a bad deal for $30, right, shipped right to your door?

This batch will go out in March — probably pretty early March; I just have to make the second batch of chocolate bars, and I think I know what they’re going to be. Then there’ll be another batch in June. I’m at 11 subscribers right now, and I’m capping it at 25 for now, to make sure I don’t exceed my capacity for actually making them.

You probably want to wait until April to sign up, because otherwise it’ll end up costing you $40 instead of $30. But we might hit cap before that, so it’s a bit of a gamble, sorry! We’re going to try to figure out a better way to do this, maybe through Shopify, but for right now, Patreon is what we can manage, so it’s signing up monthly for a quarterly thing. Not ideal! Apologies!

(But it does mean that the people who signed up in February got a great deal, getting the March box for $20. Early adoption has its benefits…)

(US-only for now, sorry.)

Goodreads giveaway for A Feast of Serendib

The new GoodReads giveaway (for 5 gorgeous print hardcovers of A Feast of Serendib) is live!

US & Canada folks are encouraged to enter! (We’d do it worldwide, but that doesn’t seem to be an option for GoodReads right now…)