An Intro for Vegan Serendib

Hey, so I needed to write an intro for Vegan Serendib — this would go *before* the basic intro that I wrote for Feast, which goes into a lot more detail about what Sri Lankan food is like, meal structure, etc. Here’s something I just drafted — what do you think?

Vegans in particular, how is this for you? I’d like to avoid writing anything off-putting, but I do also want to be up front about the fact that I’m not vegan myself!


I must begin this with a confession; I am not actually vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. Which begs the question – why would I write a vegan cookbook?

Really, it’s because of Karina. A long time ago, I dated a girl who was vegetarian, leaning pretty close to vegan. We dated for three years, and in that time, we ate together a lot. She was vegetarian for moral reasons, and so to avoid causing her distress, I ate vegetarian during that time as well. And it was just fine – at least while I was cooking for us at home, because I was mostly cooking Sri Lankan food, and there are lots of delicious vegetarian/vegan options in our cuisine.

It was a little harder – sometimes a lot harder – when we went out to restaurants together, or to parties at friends’ homes. Often, the only vegetarian option was a salad, and a pretty boring salad at that – some leafy green, probably a little wilted from sitting around, and a few shreds of carrot and slices of tomato. We’d go home still hungry, and sad about not getting to enjoy deliciousness.

It gave Karina so much pleasure when we found a restaurant that had tasty vegetarian options, especially foods she hadn’t tried before. She’s an adventurous eater, and when I took her to visit Sri Lanka for the first time, she researched and had a whole list of restaurants and foods she wanted to try there. We were able to eat very well on our trip!

Flash forward to now – twenty years later, restaurants are generally better with their vegetarian options, with more substantial offerings, and a greater variety of them. But Sri Lankan cuisine is still hard to find in the U.S. – there are a few restaurants here and there, especially in New York, and if you go up to Toronto, you’ll find plenty. But where I live, in Chicago, you pretty much have to drive eight hours up to St. Paul to find a Sri Lankan restaurant.

So this book is for everyone who wants to explore Sri Lankan vegan cuisine, whether you’re vegan or not. Maybe you’re doing Meatless Mondays, or you’re exploring a more plant-based diet generally. Maybe you’re looking for more sustainable ways to eat and exist on this planet, or maybe you’re aiming towards a healthier diet. Maybe, like Karina, veganism is a moral choice for you.

Whatever the reason, what you’ll find in these pages is an exciting and wildly varied cuisine, with a host of different preparations for vegetables, fruits, even flowers. You’ll learn how to make a master recipe for roasted curry powder, and how to prepare seasoned onions to infuse your dishes with added flavor. You’ll be invited to try a host of traditional preparations, and also a few newer dishes, using ingredients that wouldn’t have been available on the island in the old days.

Hopefully, this book will help make cooking and eating vegan cuisine easier, more adventurous, fun, and most of all, fabulously delicious!


Pasta with Tandoori Chicken in Sauce

Pasta with Tandoori Chicken in Sauce

We ordered Indian for dinner last night (hey, locals, did Khyber Pass get a new chef? Everything tastes different…), and Kavi requested pasta with tandoori chicken in sauce for dinner tonight. I think I’ve written this up here before, but just in case, it’s a useful recipe:

– set water boiling for pasta
– when boiling, add pasta, set timer appropriately (this one was 11 minutes)
– shred leftover tandoori chicken
– sauté raw red onion that came with the chicken in some vegetable oil (or ghee, or butter) until golden
– add chicken and sauté a minute or two
– push chicken and onions to the side, add 1 T flour and fry briefly, until flour is cooked, aromatic and light brown; stir flour into chicken and onions
– add 1 c. chicken broth and simmer a few minutes
– add 1/2 – 1 c. milk and simmer down to a sauce; taste and add salt / pepper if needed, but usually I don’t need to season it further

– if you want a veg in here, now is a nice time to add some frozen peas and cook a few minutes more

– drain pasta when timer goes off, add it to the pan with the sauce

– serve hot!

Treat boxes

Um, I feel like I end up stuffing more and more in the treat boxes every time I do them. I just want people to feel VERY SATISFIED that they’re getting value for their money. Is that so wrong? 🙂

Happy with the decision to move to doing them three times a year instead of four, though — they do take time. Stephanie and I took about three hours working together just to pack up the higher tier boxes on Monday.

Every time I have to reassess whether it’s worth my time to do them, but I really enjoy the process of coming up with the theme, figuring out what I’ll include, coming up with new recipes and home items. And it also gives my business some steadiness of income, which makes it easier to make sure I can make payroll. Writing pays me better, but it comes in fits and starts. Patreon is nice and steady.

Also happy that we’ve shifted everyone to larger boxes, so we can include ice packs in all of them going forward. Maybe not necessary for the winter box, but the rest of the year, I think it’ll make it much less likely that chocolate or marshmallows or lollipops will melt while sitting in a warehouse while shipping. We’ve had some disasters in the past. Live and learn!


I *think* this is everything that went in this time around:

EARTH TIER ($10 / month, shipped 3 times / year):

• Cardamom & Honey Snickerdoodles:

• Chocolate-Tamarind Pinwheels:

• Jaggery & Treacle Gingersnaps:

• Lime & Rosewater Shortbread (with Ocean Creatures):



• Milk Toffee with Raisins:

• Pistachio & Pandan Elephant Shortbread:

• Salted Honey & Lavender Shortbread:

– Salted Cherry Cookies:

• Honeybee soap (lavender, mint, & basil):

• Sunlight on the Water bookmarks:

SOL SYSTEM TIER ($15 / month, shipped 3 times / year):

• all of the above, plus:

• Chive and Cheddar Scones

• Honey Pull Apart Bread

• Orange Spice Tea

• Lavender Wall o’Plants sachet

• Bee & Flower soap (sweet orange & lemongrass)

• a Serendib card and envelope

MILKY WAY TIER ($20 / month, shipped 3 times / year):

• all of the above, plus:

• more of various sweets

• Morningstar Sedge Tea Towel

INTERSTELLAR TIER ($30 / month, shipped 3 times / year):• all of the above, plus:• Sri Lankan Butter Cake (an entire cake!)• Fruit & Flower Tea (cornflower, calendula, mango, passionfruit, etc.)• Morningstar Sedge Scarf• homemade Sri Lankan curry powder & A Taste of Serendib

Summer treat tea blends

Two tea blends for the summer treat boxes (both caffeinated):

• orange spice (black tea, orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, orange and clove oil)

• fruit and flower (black tea, calendula, rose petals, cornflowers, mango and passion fruit)

It’s fun making up tea blends. 🙂

Looking for test cooks

Quick note — we could use some more test cooks for Vegan Serendib. If you test 5 recipes, we will send you a digital copy of either Feast or Vegan Serendib, and if you test 10 recipes, we will send your choice of hardcover, too! If you’re interested, drop your preferred e-mail in the comments. Thanks!

Honey-Lemon Pull-Apart Cake

Honey-Lemon Pull-Apart Cake

This is just slightly modified from the recipe that comes with this charming pan (link in comments). It makes a light and fluffy cake; you can serve as is, sprinkle powdered sugar on top, or for extra flavor, top with a honey-lemon glaze.

3 c. flour

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 c. butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. honey

4 large eggs

2 T finely grated lemon rind

1 c. sour cream


3 T honey

1/2 c. powdered sugar

2 T lemon juice

1. Pre-heat oven to 325F. Grease and flour pan (or use baking spray); set aside.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3. In large bowl, cream softened butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy, scraping bowl as needed. Add eggs one at a time, and beat until well-blended. Add flour mixture and sour cream in portions, alternately and blend on low; stir in grated lemon rind.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean; cool ten minutes in pan, then turn out to finish cooling on wire rack.

Glaze:In small saucepan, combine all glaze ingredients and heat until sugar dissolves. Brush warm glaze over cooling cake.

Mourn With Me

Sigh. Mourn with me — I was making a big batch (two pounds) of cashews with cayenne, honey, and lime; they would have been DELICIOUS. But I got distracted with a different piece of work at the tail end of baking, so the cashews went ten minutes longer than they should have, and that turned them black and charred and readers, they were NOT GOOD. I had to toss the whole batch, which was very sad. (Also, cashews are expensive.)

This is how I am WITH the ADD meds. Can you imagine how often this kind of thing used to happen without them? Often.