Rosappu Pachadi / Rose (or Hibiscus) Salad

(15 minutes, serves 4)

This is an ancient recipe, based primarily on a recipe N. Maheswari Devi saved from 13th-14th c. manuscripts in the Jaffna Library. The library, which contained over 97,000 books and manuscripts and was one of the largest in Asia, was burned by an organized mob on June 1, 1981, during the Sri Lankan conflict, one of the great tragedies of that era. The burning was one of the most violent examples of ethnic biblioclasm of the 20th century.

Although the library has since been rebuilt, many irreplaceable manuscripts were lost to the world. I offer this recipe to you with gratitude to the author for her work researching and saving many such recipes, and recommend her book to you, Jaffna Heritage Cooking.

Roses bloom lushly in the hill country of Sri Lanka; if roses aren’t available, hibiscus (shoeflower) also works beautifully here, lending a little more tang. You can prepare this recipe either as a lightly-dressed salad, or as more of a yogurt-based raita, a cooling element with a spicy curry meal.

Petals are quite perishable, so this should be made and served fresh for a salad; a raita will keep for a few days in the fridge.

NOTE: It’s important to only eat flowers that haven’t been treated with pesticides or other poisons when cooking; if you’re not growing the flowers yourself, be sure to buy from reputable sources that certify they are food-grade quality.

about 40 rosebuds, or 20 roses
3-5 green chilies, minced
1/2 c. fresh grated coconut
1/2 c. red onion, minced
1/4 – 1 c. vegan yogurt (determine amount depending on whether you’re aiming for a dressed salad, as pictured, or something closer to a raita)
1 t. fresh mint, minced

1/2 t. salt

1. If using rosebuds, remove the petals from the base. If using fully-grown roses, tear or chop the petals small (otherwise, the large petals will have an unappetizing slick texture). Rinse and drain them well before continuing.

2. Combine petals with remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Serve cold.

Boom! Tell me that wouldn’t be the star of your brunch table. 🙂

Sitting in the Sunshine

Met Roshani for lunch yesterday, outdoors at Little Gem. They have perfect French onion soup, and we shared a split of prosecco. Yumyum. So nice to sit outside in the sunshine with a friend…

Travel Through Food

Lunch today — I’d ordered seafood paella from a local restaurant a few days ago, excited to try it. The last time I had paella was on the beach in Mexico, and it was so good, and I miss beaches. So travel through food, yes? One way of getting through sheltering in place.

Unfortunately, the paella was…not great. I mean, it was fine? But not DELICIOUS. And I wanted delicious. Also, it was mostly rice with a little seafood, and I’m not sure how traditional that is or isn’t, not being a paella expert, but I wanted mine to be more seafood with a little rice.

So I messed with it. I diced an onion and some bell pepper, sauteed those in a good amount of olive oil with salt and pepper and smoked paprika and garlic powder. Added in a little wine and some already cooked shrimp I had on hand. Stirred in the restaurant paella, and then a good amount of lemon juice. (I like tang). Tasted, wanted more spice, ground in a little more fresh black pepper.

Reader, it was delicious. Anand came over and tried some, and then served himself a huge helping, so that was an extra win — I wasn’t expecting him to go for paella, but he does like rice, so I should not have underestimated him, I guess. 🙂. It’s not the same as being able to go dive into the ocean beforehand and work up a big appetite, but for now, I’ll take it. Vacations will come again.

Twelve Years Old Again

Made beef-and-potato curry last week, which is the recipe I have made the most times in my life. 🙂 I’m still ridiculously content when I have it in the fridge, especially when it means I can make myself a lunchtime sandwich with white bread.

Makes me feel like I’m twelve years old again, when this was my favorite meal. Possibly still is my favorite meal. If I were on a desert island and could only have one meal, I think this would be it.


Another Hello Fresh Thingie

This was another Hello Fresh thingie that I had for lunch — prosciutto and cheese sandwich on ciabatta with fig jam, arugula, and balsamic. It was pretty yummy, but the teeny tiny bottle of balsamic feels wasteful, and I do usually keep a jar of fig jam on hand. (Though we happen to be out right now, must buy more.) Still, a fancier sandwich that I would probably think to make on my own for lunch, so that was nice. And it reminded me to get more jam, and more prosciutto…

A GREAT Sandwich

This was a GREAT sandwich — if Roshani Anandappa and I ever open up that little Sri Lankan cafe, I’m going to argue for this being on the menu. Steak sandwich with brinjal moju (eggplant pickle). Yumyum. Maybe served with a little kale sambol on the side.

Hmm…maybe when we do the cookbook re-launch (planned for our book birthday month of March) and we can hopefully gather again, I can partner with Carnivore Oak Park to offer this as a special for a week.

And Amanda Daly, maybe we rent the Daly Bagel for a little pop-up event in the evening once spring rolls around…I had some brinjal moju yesterday on an everything bagel, and it was super-yum.

The Way to Someone’s Heart

Just a nice Sunday lunch — omelette with melted swiss and prosciutto on fresh-baked bread, still warm and crispy, with apple slices and apple cider.

Mostly, I leave the kids to fend for themselves for lunch, but every once in a while I surprise them with something like this, and they are SO HAPPY. When Anand writes me a Mother’s Day list of things he likes about me, the first thing on the list is always: “Mommy is a good cook!”

What’s that they say about the way to someone’s heart? 🙂

Girl and Goatceries Elotes Kit

This is the Girl and Goatceries elotes kit. It is yummy. Yes, I could get most of the components separately on my own, but they do have an interesting house-made sauce that comes with, and some nights, you just want someone to put it together for you…

Just grill the par-boiled corn for a minute or two (stovetop grill pan makes it easy), and assemble: kewpie mayo, cheese, cilantro, lime, Yucatan sauce. Adding a little cayenne wouldn’t hurt either.

Bountiful Result

Today’s assemble-your-own lunch board. A little random, because we had some leftover roast pork and Yorkshire pudding that Kevin made the other night, along with sautéed pea pods and roasted broccoli. ALSO a few leftover chicken wings from takeout the other night. So all I did was put it all out, slice some apples and pears, cut up some cheese, and pull out the pumpkin & ginger muffins. Pretty bountiful result. 🙂

Made it to Lunch

Anand’s “made it to lunch” pose!

I tossed a loaf of Pillsbury French bread dough in the toaster oven for a treat — 25 minutes later, hot, crusty bread, put out with butter and veggies (pepper and tomatoes from the garden!) and hummus and dip and cheese and salami and sliced apples and clementines.

Easy weekday lunch requiring no more than 10 minutes on my part, useful when everyone wants (or needs) to eat at different times. When it gets colder, I might add a pot of soup on the stove.

I’m thinking maybe I can start including more varied elements in this if I keep doing it for school lunches. Like classic antipasto options, or Indonesian gado-gado, or sushi ingredients. Hmm….