A Better Option for a Big Party

I was getting a little tired, so I almost didn’t make the kaliya curry, but then Kevin was willing to do all the prep for me, so I lay on the couch and watched Darby & Joan (Acorn TV, one season so far, set in Australia, retired nurse and retired inspector solve crimes while cranking at each other about their dubious life choices, fun) while he did all the work.

I did eventually take over the deep frying and the curry making, though. Eggplant, plantain, potato, in a sweet-tangy coconut milk gravy. I admit, I prefer the variant that adds chicken liver — I find that totally addictive. But for a big party, going with the still delicious vegan version seemed a better option.

A Last Minute Jaffna Crab Curry

I may have last-minute decided to do a Jaffna crab curry — which is mostly an indulgence for me, because I love it, but no one else in my house eats crab, so I don’t have much of an excuse to make it. But party. 🙂

Of course, it does mean that anyone unwilling to eat rice and curry with their clean hands instead of knife and fork is going to have a challenge…

Thanks to my sister Sharms Murraj, who taught me how to make this one. It’s her birthday today! Happy happy birthday, kiddo!

Wines With Cool Labels

Doing pre-party prep, setting out the wine. Usually I rarely buy wine, because people bring it when they come to parties, and since I throw a lot of parties, I usually end up with more wine at the end of the night than I started with.

But pandemic meant that we’ve slowly knocked down our wine stores and we were basically out, so I went out and restocked — which I’m only bothering to mention because I know nothing about wine, and so I mostly buy wines that have cool labels.

These are some of the ones I have succumbed to recently — all SF/F or writerly or just a super-pretty label in the case of the wine cans. 🙂 No idea if they’re any good!

Party Menu Planning

Cooking for Wednesday’s pre-ChiCon party is coming along nicely, I think. Focusing on Sri Lankan stuff for now, since the American food will be mostly just throw it on the grill and/or order.

Kevin helped me tonight with mixing up fluff, chopping cashews, peeling beets and matchsticking them, so it was reasonably low effort knocking out four more dishes, even after coming home from teaching at 7 (it helped that I had seasoned onions ready in the fridge for the curries). Made the mango fluff, the cashew & cranberry milk toffee, the curried beets, and the cashew curry.

Big triumph of the night was figuring out why my last several batches of milk toffee had tried to burn — I kept thinking it was because I’d switched pots, but no — it’s that my Wolf range runs hotter than a normal range, and I’d forgotten that I need to adjust my recipe for that (from medium-high to medium, and from medium to medium-low). SO nice not having to worry about it burning this time!


Menu planning, for the curious. It’s like prepping for Thanksgiving, but more so. 🙂 Currently have 95 Yes RSVP’d, with another 23 Maybe. I expect some will drop out due to travel complications, tiredness, etc., but still should be a good-sized shindig. Of course, Amma regularly threw birthday parties for something like 150-200 Sri Lankan diaspora folks, so I have a ways to go still…

Thank goodness the weather is looking pretty perfect for Wed — we should be able to be mostly outdoors. Otherwise, my house would be bursting a bit at the seams!



– pick up some appetizers from Indian store (Darius Vinesar, I may send you on this errand on Wed; I’ll order in advance)
– beef curry — DONE
– pork curry — DONE
– shrimp curry — DONE
– lamb curry (mild) — DONE
– deviled potatoes — DONE
– carrot curry — DONE
– coconut sambol — DONE
– cashew curry — DONE
– curried beets — DONE
– naan — BOUGHT
– mango fluff — DONE
– milk toffee — DONE (except for cutting)


– lentil curry
– kaliya curry (eggplant, potato, and plantain)
– jackfruit & chickpea curry
– cabbage varai


– green mango salad
– vatallappam
– passionfruit marshmallows
– coconut rock


– kale sambol
– saffron, sultana, and cashew rice (use vegan butter)
– tropical fruit salad
– mango-passionfruit punch


– Sri Lankan eggplant & mushroom skewers (use vegan mayo and yogurt)
– Sri Lankan bell pepper and ripe jackfruit skewers
– Sri Lankan grilled chicken kabobs
– hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages
– corn with elotes fixings
– pineapple & mango skewers with chili, salt, and lime
– potato salad
– watermelon if it’s hot
– pies

Tuesday night: move frozen curries to fridge; get ice bags for chest freezer

WEDNESDAY: Order Chicago-style pizza

Delightfully Chaotic

One of the fun parts of packing the Patreon boxes is pulling all the sweets out of the freezer, adding the other items, and making lots of little piles on the kitchen island. Chaotic, but in a delightful way. 🙂

I wouldn’t want to do this more than a few times a year, though! There’s only so much chaos my brain can take.

Shifting Into High Gear

Shifting into high gear for the party cooking. To try to keep myself sane, I made the meat curries in advance and froze them, so these are done:

– beef curry
– black pork curry
– tamarind shrimp
– lamb curry (mild)

I also made a big batch of coconut sambol. Next step, the veggie dishes (which are all incidentally vegan, which is easy to do with Sri Lankan cooking — just be sure to use oil instead of ghee, and don’t add in the tiny dried shrimp or Maldive fish that are sometimes added to veg dishes).

Yesterday I started off with eight bags of frozen chopped onions and sauteed then in my biggest sauté pan (which is very big) with oil, black mustard seed, cumin seed, cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon stick. That makes a great base for many of our dishes, and will make cooking for a party much faster.

So far, I’ve taken portions of those seasoned onions, and made the two curries that I can do in my sleep, devilled potatoes and sweet carrot curry (with a bit of heat from green chilies). The list of dishes I’m hoping to do is probably longer than I actually have time for, given I have to, you know, teach today, for example. But if I end up with extra seasoned onions, they freeze well, so can be stowed away for a hectic future day.