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!