Loving Lentils

It’s funny; I used to not like lentils. Everyone always raved about Amma’s paripoo, but it just didn’t work for me.

But boy, I love this Sri Lankan lentil curry. Bryan thought it was the best thing we served at the party, and I think he was right. I have to credit Ethiopian food — falling in love with that cuisine in college led me around to loving lentils.

Recipe here: https://serendibkitchen.com/…/tempered-lentils-paripoo…/

Two Days Left on Kickstarter!

I’ve just added stretch goal #2 — if we make it to $7500, I’m committing to Serendib Teatime (I may fiddle with the name some), a selection of afternoon tea delights.

One of my favorite things to do when visiting Sri Lanka is enjoy seaside afternoon tea at the Galle Face Hotel — little sandwiches with the crusts cut off, cakes and cookies and scones, fried prawns, and of course, the best Ceylon tea. Yum.

https://www.kickstarter.com/…/vegan-serendib-a…/comments

Pledge at the $3 level or higher to get a copy of all funded ebooks — the cocktail party ebook is guaranteed now; the teatime one…well, we’ll see. We’re at $6881 now, so it’s promising, but not definite. πŸ™‚

Photo from a tea tasting Karina and I did at a hill country plantation in 2005.

Poritha Ulli Kari / Fried Garlic Curry

This one is for all the folks who say there can never be too much garlic in a dish. I’m no expert on Ayurvedic cooking, but from what I’ve read, garlic is used widely in Ayurvedic medicine, with claims that it’s good for the heart, hair, and digestive systems.

On the other hand, some practitioners recommend being sparing when you eat garlic and onions, as they can have a ‘heating’ effect, and some of us may run rather ‘hot’ already… I leave such weighty health decisions up to the cook! I will only vouch for this dish being delicious.

2 T vegetable oil
2 c. peeled garlic cloves
1 c. chopped onion
1-3 green chilies, seeded and sliced thinly
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground pepper
1/2 t. fennel seeds
1/4 t. mustard seeds
1/4 t. fenugreek / methi seeds
1 stalk curry leaves (about a dozen)
2 c. coconut milk
1 T Sri Lankan roasted curry powder

1 T tamarind paste

1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, chilies, salt, pepper, fennel, mustard, fenugreek, and curry leaves; sautΓ©, stirring occasionally, until golden-translucent.

2. Add coconut milk, curry powder, and tamarind paste. Bring to a boil, stirring to combine, then reduce the heat and simmer until the gravy has reduced by half. Serve hot with rice or bread.

Here’s an Extra Special Fabulous Treat

Brilliant Sri Lankan American writers Nayomi Munaweera and Sugi Ganeshananthan very kindly agreed (on very short notice!) to record a podcast episode with me. In theory, we were going to talk about doing Sri Lankan research for our books, but in actuality, we mostly talked about other Sri Lankan writers we love, and food. Lots and lots about food. πŸ™‚ ENJOY.

https://speculativeliterature.org/episodes/#ep-13

0:00: Mary Anne’s introducing topic and guests for the episode
1:27: Nayomi introduces herself
2:55: Sugi introduces herself
6:15: Contemporary Sri Lankan writers
12:00: On Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and his international success
15:05: Mary Anne on Sri Lanka and the civil war
20:10: Nayomi on writing for an international market
26:57: Intermission and SLF ad
27:35: Connecting to Vegan Serendib
34:17: On food writing and authenticity, and why milk rice wasn’t in A Feast of Serendib
38:47: On cooking Sri Lankan food for kids
42:08: To use, or not to use fresh coconut
46:46: On making idli and hoppers
49:47: Favorite Sri Lankan meals
1:02:30: Mary Anne on making fruit cake
1:05:30: On assimilation and bagels
1:08:54: On eating with your hands and the smell of curry

1:12:56: Where you can find Nayomi and Sugi on social media

Our First Stretch Goal

Morning, folks! I’m here with your Vegan Serendib Kickstarter update — and stretch goals!

We’ve blown through our $2500 goal, and are currently sitting very nicely at $4287 with two more weeks to go. More funds will let us do more stuff, so here’s the first stretch goal — if we make it to $5000, I’m going to release:

β€’ Serendib Cocktail Party Sampler eBook (aiming for Oct. release, so you have it in plenty of time for the holiday season)

I’m planning to include a baker’s dozen of tropical recipes, including savory bites, sweet bites, and some fun drinks (both alcoholic and non).

As many of us are able to re-enter the party-throwing phase, maybe a little Sri Lankan inspiration will be helpful! (And if you’re still sheltering in place, you might want a little cocktail inspiration for yourself…)

You’ll be able to select the vegan or non-vegan version of the book, and all Kickstarter backers will receive a copy. It’ll also be available for purchase, of course, so a cute little holiday gift for yourself or someone you love?

Interested? Head on over to the Kickstarter and pledge, and/or tell your friends. Likes / comments / shares always appreciated for visiblity!

https://www.kickstarter.com/…/vegan-serendib-a-sri…

Funded!

Thanks so much to all 75 people who have so far supported my Vegan Serendib Kickstarter with pre-orders — and also to everyone who helped boost the signal! Woot. πŸ™‚

I’ll be back later today with an update about stretch goals, but for now, I will just revel in the moment.

To be clear, there are still plenty of rewards and pre-order discounts available for the next 23 days, if you’d like to hop over to the Kickstarter site:

https://www.kickstarter.com/…/vegan-serendib-a-sri…

Yay!

Sakkarai (Jaggery) Pongal

(30-40 minutes, serves 8-10)

For this one-pot celebration dish, rice is mixed with a little toasted mung bean and cooked down until very soft, close to custard texture. Sweeten the rice with jaggery and coconut milk, season with fried cashews, raisins, cardamom and saffron, and you have a dish fit for the gods — which was, in fact, what jaggery pongal was intended for. It was traditionally made to offer the gods as part of the harvest celebration of Pongal (typically around mid-January), and on other similarly celebratory occasions.

In modern times, many will use a pressure cooker or Instant Pot to bring the rice quickly to the right texture, but I go a bit more old school here, which requires stirring on the stovetop.

2 c. rice (white or red, your choice)
4 c. water
1 c. coconut milk
1/4 c. green grams / mung bean, toasted in a dry pan
1 c. jaggery
1 t. salt
2 T vegetable oil or vegan butter
1/4 c. cashew nuts, chopped
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 t. ground cardamom
pinch of saffron threads

optional garnish: whole cashew nuts and raisins fried in more vegetable oil or vegan butter

1. Soak the toasted green grams for 30 minutes, then add to a large saucepan, along with rice and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, until rice is mostly cooked through.

2. Stir in jaggery and coconut milk, then cover and continue to cook, stirring periodically to keep from sticking. If you need to add more water, do so.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil or vegan butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cashews and raisings and fry until cashews are golden brown. Stir them into the cooked rice mixture.

4. Add cardadmom and saffron and continue to cook, stirring periodically, until rice has broken down, and the entire dish has a somewhat creamy texture (similar in appearance to risotto).

5. Remove from heat and cool. You can simply spoon it in to bowls for serving, or for a fancier presentation, mold into portions by pressing into greased cups, then unmold and serve garnished with additional fried cashews and raisins. A little fried ripe plantain would also go nicely with this, or fresh ripe mango.

Thank you, hibiscus tree, for giving me a single flower just in time for this photograph. πŸ™‚

Vegan Now a Project We Love

Hey, isn’t this lovely? Kickstarter has chosen Vegan Serendib as a “Project We Love.” I get a badge and everything. πŸ™‚ Congrats, little Kickstarter project!

We’re up to $1741 of the $2500 funding goal, so getting close! To pledge (and get books at a discount), go here: https://www.kickstarter.com/…/vegan-serendib-a-sri…

Speaking of discounts, I have a special treat to announce for today — Feast has been out for more than a year now, and with Vegan getting close to done, it felt like it was time — we’re dropping the price on A Feast of Serendib! $5 off on all editions — hardcover, paperback, and ebook. I’m not sure how long we’ll keep that sale price up — at least through the end of the Kickstarter, so through the end of June. So if you’re looking for a non-vegan Sri Lankan cookbook, I got you. πŸ™‚

Shop here: https://serendib-kitchen.myshopify.com/collections/books