Day Two of Vegan Serendib Launch Week!

I have a full house working here this morning — Stephanie is pictured here, learning how to make my roasted curry powder. We made a lot already! But it’s all gone, and we have a lot more Kickstarter orders and pre-orders to fulfill; trying to get them out as quickly as we can!

Here’s a recipe for you — Sri Lankan roasted curry powder. If I remember, I’m going to be posting free recipes all launch month, just to give y’all a taste of the book. (*Taste* of it, see? I’m funny.) Please like / comment / share for visibility!

(Also, did you see my previous post that Feast is 30% off on Amazon today? What a deal! Ordering links in comments.)


Master Recipe: Sri Lankan Curry Powder

One of the main characteristics of Sri Lankan cooking is that the spices are often dark roasted. You cannot simply substitute yellow curry powder! If your local Indian grocery store carries Jaffna Curry Powder, that’s from northern Sri Lanka and an excellent option; my curry powder can also be bought in our online shop (but only shipping within the U.S.). Or you can always make your own; home cooks will generally have their own variations!

1 c. coriander seeds
1/2 c. cumin seeds
1 T fennel seeds
1 rounded t. fenugreek seeds (aka methi seeds)
1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches
1 rounded t. whole cloves
1 rounded t. cardamom seeds
2 T dried curry leaves
2 rounded t. cayenne

1. In a dry pan over medium heat, roast separately the coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek, stirring constantly until each one becomes a fairly dark brown. Do not attempt to save time by roasting them together – they each have different cooking times and you will only end up half-cooking some and burning others.

2. Put into blender container (I use a coffee grinder that is dedicated solely to spice grinding) together with cinnamon stick broken in pieces, the cloves, cardamom and curry leaves.

3. Blend at high speed until finely powdered. Sieve into a bowl, discarding any large pieces, and combine with chili powder; stir well. Store in airtight jar.

(We know that some folks like a lot of heat and some prefer less. We don’t add any cayenne to our curry powder so that you can adjust the heat level to your own preference by adding as much or as little as you like. In Sri Lanka we use about 1 – 2 teaspoons per 4 – 5 oz. batch.)

Vegan Lunch for Launch of Serendib

Vegan lunch for Vegan Serendib’s launch day, of course. 🙂

• curried beets
• leeks fried with chili
• kale sambol
• lime-masala mushrooms

…all on a bed of rice, as is traditional, but if you’re aiming lower-carb, you could skip the rice and serve in a bowl with more of the kale sambol as your base.

(And if you’re aiming vegetarian instead of vegan, you can top with a fried egg…)

Launch Day for Vegan Serendib

Launch day for Vegan Serendib, my Sri Lankan vegan cookbook!

This has been a long road, people, from first drafting Feast, to launching it March 2020, to pandemic, to carrying on with Vegan — it doesn’t feel quite real yet. And yet, it is. Woot!

A few notes:

• if you’ve already bought Feast, you should know that there are 80 recipes in common between the two cookbooks. If you’d like the 40 new recipes developed for Vegan Serendib, you can certainly buy a copy (and they look very nice on the shelf next to each other), but you can also wait a few weeks for the digital supplement we’ll be putting out, _A Slice of Serendib_ (I think is the tentative title).

• if you’re planning to buy Vegan on Amazon or other online retailers, for yourself, for gifts, etc., it would be SUPER-HELPFUL if you can order it today, as a burst of orders help bump up the book’s visibility in the rankings, making it much more likely that people who don’t know me personally will actually see it.

• if you’d like to buy it directly from me, that’s great too (we get a little more money per book), and there’s a link in comments.

• if you buy it (and/or Feast) directly from me, and you live in the U.S., you can also add on some of my homemade curry powder

• if you already have a copy of Feast and/or Vegan and feel moved to leave a review — even just a single line — on Amazon, that’s also SUPER-HELPFUL. Once you hit a critical mass of reviews, that also moves the book up in Amazon’s visibility algorithms.

Please like / comment / share for visibility — tell your friends, tell your family, tell the world. 🙂 Thanks!

A Super-Fast Day

Yesterday was one of those days that just went super-fast, one thing after another. I made Sri Lankan lunch for six, cooking way too much, just as my mother trained me — you want an abundance of food at a party, so no one hesitates to go back for seconds.

– Sri Lankan red rice & basmati rice, with saffron and sultanas
– tamarind pork curry
– classic chicken curry
– curried beets with green chili and coconut milk
– kale salad with coconut, onion, & cherry tomatoes
– mushrooms sautéed in butter, curry powder, and lime
– chili leeks
– yogurt (just in case it was still too spicy for anyone)
– toasted naan (from Whole Foods)
– mango fluff for dessert (not pictured)

I cooked the pork curry Thursday night, but the rest was cooked Friday morning in a bit of a mad frenzy. It would’ve been calmer, but I had a Serendib Zoom meeting in the middle of the morning, and not one I could skip, since we’re prepping for launch of Vegan Serendib on Tuesday! It felt weirdly appropriate that I was cooking throughout that meeting. 🙂

I was in a bit of a strange mood all day, I think because it was my mother’s birthday. Amma has moved to a memory care facility, and while we’re still figuring it all out, it’s looking like she’s probably going to need to continue living there, for her own health and safety. She isn’t able to answer the phone and understand me at this point; I thought about trying to call, but I didn’t think there’d be any point to it. I’m not sure she really recognizes me when I come to visit.

But my sister and her family were able to visit yesterday, along with my aunt and her son, and the staff took a nice photo of them all. I wish Amma could’ve joined us for lunch yesterday. She would have liked tasting the food — the chicken curry and leeks in particular, are exactly how she used to make them. All my cooking skills — the flavors, the complexity, the ability to cook masses of food at speed — start with her.

A Great Spicy Accompaniment

A little more cooking from yesterday — this is one of my favorite Sri Lankan accompaniments, leeks fried with chili. I like it for two main reasons:

a) it’s great to have a spicy accompaniment, so that if you’re serving a large group and some people might not want spicy and some might, you can make the other dishes on the milder side, and then this goes well with almost everything to bring the heat for those who want it

b) although the recipe says 50 minutes, most of that you can be doing other things — there’s only about 10 minutes of active cooking, when you’re slicing the leeks, washing the grit out, and starting the sauté with spices. AND, if you’re willing to stand and stir on higher heat, you can knock it out much faster — I think the whole thing took me about 20 minutes yesterday, so I was able to make it while the rice finished cooking.

Recipe link in comments.

A Staple

Sri Lankan chicken curry — this one is just a staple. I probably ate it every week, growing up, and must have cooked it at least once a week for myself when I was in grad school.

For Kev and the kids, I cut most of the chicken thighs off the bones, but I throw the bones in to cook, because it adds immensely to the flavor.

Amma likes to crack the bones with her teeth and suck out the marrow; she’s hard-core. It’s her birthday today — thinking of her.

Personalizing Presents

While I cook for my sci-fi lunch this morning, Stephanie Bailey is over here packing up and shipping out the Kickstarter and pre-orders of Vegan Serendib. Every once in a while she calls me over to personalize one — I’ve signed lots, but some people asked for special messages, which I’m happy to add.

This one is a Christmas present — I’m expecting we’ll get quite a few more holiday gifts in the next few weeks, and we’ll do our best to get them out in time, but do keep in mind that postal shipping has gotten weird, and ordering sooner is definitely safer. I’d definitely get in U.S. orders by December 7th for Christmas delivery, and international orders earlier! (Link to order in comments.)

Lots of these pre-orders have also asked for messages like “Enjoy your new culinary journey,” which I’m guessing is mostly referring to the vegan part — they’re being sent as gifts to friends and family members who have recently shifted to a plant-based diet, for health and/or other reasons. It’s cool.

Someone asked me recently if this was a heart-healthy cookbook, and you know, I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, so I didn’t really feel like I could make any assurances in that regard. But I suspect generally transitioning to a more plant-based diet is likely to be good for your heart and health overall — as long as you don’t drown every single curry in coconut milk, anyway. 🙂

(Yes, my signature is a scrawl. I did get a ‘C’ in handwriting back at Holy Cross, when the nuns were trying to teach us cursive. Can I blame my doctor father? Maybe messy signatures can be inherited…)

Sometimes, You Just Want to Indulge

I came home from World Fantasy and almost immediately made myself comfort food — beef and potato curry, the first thing I really learned to cook, with some indulgent short-grain white rice.

I usually try to make rice with a lower glycemic index, because I had gestational diabetes with Anand, so I try to be a little careful of my sugars. But sometimes, you just want to indulge. 🙂

Kavi and Kevin love this curry too — Anand still can’t handle anything spicy, poor munchkin. Sensitive tongue!