Grilled & Spiced Piña Colada

(makes one big glass)

This takes a little planning ahead, since you’ll want to grill the pineapple and let it cool to at least room temperature before making the drinks. But the effort is well-rewarded with a rich burst of extra flavor, and added complexity from the cayenne, salt, and lime.

4 pieces of pineapple (about 4 oz.), sprinkled with cayenne, salt, and lime
4 oz. thick coconut milk
2 oz dark spiced rum
2 t. kithul treacle (or honey)
3-4 ice cubes

honey and grated coconut (unsweetened) for rimming the glass

1. Skewer pineapple, sprinkle with cayenne, salt, and lime, and grill on high for 5-7 minutes, turning periodically. (You can also roast at 400F if you prefer.) Remove from grill and let cool.

2. Blend pineapple with coconut milk, rum, kithul treacle (or honey), and ice cubes.

3. Dip rim of glass in honey, dip in shredded coconut, and carefully pour in piña colada.

If you like, serve with additional skewers of grilled spiced pineapple!

A Christmas-y Cake Dilemma

Boo! I seem to have accidentally deleted my draft recipe for this chocolate-cherry cake (made for the Patreon treat boxes). Alas! It came out well — key elements were a bit of coffee in the batter to bring out the chocolate-y-ness, and a bit of cayenne for a little excitement. Oh well…maybe I’ll try to recreate it at some point.

Cherries are ripe now, in the height of summer, but the overall look of the cake is very Christmas-y. A dilemma!

Soul Refresher: Watermelon & Rose Iced Tea

I promised you mocktail recipes! Here’s one.

Soul Refresher: Watermelon & Rose Iced Tea

(serves 6)

Rooh Afza is a traditional syrup formulated in 1906 in Ghaziabad, British India by Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed, combining several ingredients commonly believed to be cooling agents, such as rose — its name is sometimes translated as “refresher of the soul”. Ingredients vary; my current cordial bottle primarily mixes fragrant screw pine (kewra) with rose, lending complex flavor and beautiful fragrance. It can easily be found online or in South Asian grocery stories.

– 3 c. watermelon, plus more garnish
– 1 T Rooh Afza
– 3 c. cold tea (use tea of your choice; I used elderflower, but caffeinated black tea would also work well — try Lady Grey for a delicate variation, or PG Tips if you’re looking for something more sturdy)

1. Brew tea (2-3 tea bags and 3 c. boiled water) and let cool, chill for two hours in fridge.

2. Blend watermelon and Rooh Afza together.

3. For each glass, combine 1/2 c. watermelon blend with 1/2 c. cold tea. Serve iced, with a garnish of watermelon slice.

NOTE: For a more luxurious version, top each glass with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Jackfruit Taprobane

(makes 2)

This is one of my more complex cocktails, and requires a few notes:

a) It’s getting easier to find fresh jackfruit in American grocery stores; if you can’t find fresh, look for frozen. You can also buy canned ripe jackfruit, but that usually comes in a sweet syrup, so the end result will be noticeably sweeter.

b) For the ingredients here, I looked to some of what I’d typically use in a jackfruit curry — tamarind, cinnamon, and lemongrass. Lemongrass found in American groceries is often quite woody and tough; if you’re not growing your own fresh sprigs, you may want to either skip the lemongrass, or simmer and steep it in the vermouth, removing the stalks before using.

c) Tonic water (a favorite in colonial South Asian cocktails for its inclusion of quinine, which treated malaria) lends this concoction a bitter edge; if you don’t enjoy bitter, use seltzer water instead.

1 c. ripe jackfruit (fresh or frozen)
2 oz. mango puree
2 oz. coconut milk
2 oz. gin
1 oz. vermouth
1 oz. tonic water or seltzer water
1 t. tamarind puree
1 t. chopped lemongrass, optional
2-3 ice cubes
lemongrass, cinnamon stick, and jackfruit to garnish

1. Combine all ingredients except garnish in blender; blend to combine.

2. Garnish and enjoy!

Ginger & Blood Orange Vodka Press

I’ve started working on recipes for the little cocktail cookbook; I promised it as part of the Vegan Serendib Kickstarter. My goal is to do a mocktail version to pair with each cocktail; we’ll see if I can do that in an interesting way, rather than just taking out the alcohol.

For example, for this one, I can do a ginger simple syrup instead of ginger liqueur, and you can get non-alcoholic bitters (Dram Apothecary makes some, for example), so that by itself should be pretty good. But if you have suggestions for something else to add instead of the vodka, feel free to chime in!

But tonight, here’s the one with alcohol.


Ginger & Blood Orange Vodka Press

This would be a nice brunch cocktail, and if you want a less alcoholic version, just leaving out the vodka works nicely.

3 oz. orange juice
2 oz. blood orange soda
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. ginger liqueur
dash of orange bitters
slice of clementine
1 tsp chopped crystallized ginger

1. Combine orange juice, blood orange soda, vodka, ginger liqueur, dash of orange bitters.

2. Garnish with clementine and crystallized ginger. Enjoy!

NOTE: I enjoy locally-produced Koval ginger liqueur in this drink, along with Ketel One’s Grapefruit Rose vodka, and Strongwater’s orange bitters.

Sri Lankan Grilled Beef Kabobs

(25 minutes + marinating time, makes 8 skewers)

This is a fusion-y sort of recipe, taking a shawarma-style approach, but with Sri Lankan flavors, adapted from a recipe found in Bon Appétit magazine.

I was aiming for something I could easily prep on a weeknight and throw on the grill, and this worked really well — it takes a little marinating time, so plan ahead, but actual cooking time is minimal. It also works well with pork or chicken thighs.

(You can certainly use a more expensive cut of meat if you prefer, such as sirloin tips or anything up to filet mignon. The lime juice in the marinade here tenderizes the chuck, which can be tough otherwise for quick cooking.)

NOTE: Sri Lankan curry powder recipe can be found here; it can also be purchased online:

zest of 2 limes
4 large garlic cloves, finely grated
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. plain whole-milk yogurt
3 T lime juice
1 t. salt
1/3 c. ketchup
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
2 t. Sri Lankan curry powder
1-2 t. cayenne
3 T vegetable oil (plus more for grill)
2 lb. beef chuck, cut into 1/2″ cubes
naan bread, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers (for serving)

1. Make sauce: In a large bowl, whisk lime zest, garlic, mayonnaise, yogurt, and 2 t. of the lime juice in a large bowl to combine, add salt to taste. Transfer 1/2 c. of sauce to small bowl for serving; cover and chill until you’re reading to eat.

2. Make marinade: Whisk into the remaining sauce the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder, cayenne, and remaining lime juice. Add beef (or other meat), toss to coat. Cover and chill at least one hour (up to 12 hours).

3. Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. While grill is heating, remove beef from marinade, letting any extra drip back into the bowl; thread meat onto metal skewers, spacing slightly apart.

4. Grill kebabs, turning a few times, until browned and just cooked through, 6-10 minutes. Lightly toast pita on grill, and serve kebabs with peta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and reserved yogurt sauce.

Cooking Class: Sri Lankan Brunch (8/25, in person)

Cooking with Mary Anne! Learn how to make a classic Sri Lankan brunch of hoppers (with both egg hopper and sweet coconut hopper variations), along with coconut (pol) sambol accompaniment. Served with an accompanying fish or jackfruit curry, and mango-passionfruit mimosas.

  • Sunday, September 25, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • $60 / person (or $85 / person, which includes a signed copy of A Feast of Serendib and a 4 oz. sampler of homemade Sri Lankan curry powder).
  • Limit 8 in class.
  • 332 Wisconsin Ave, Oak Park, Illinois

Click here to sign up for the class.

Blueberry-Orange Mini Muffins with Vanilla-Lime Drizzle

(Makes 24 mini-muffins or 12 regular muffins)

You can certainly make these in regular muffin pans, but I was making these for my Patreon treat boxes, which have a fairy theme this month, so I went for mini muffins instead — smaller, cuter, fairy-sized. 🙂 It does take a little longer this way to fill and bake them, but the result is adorable.

Skip the drizzle for a slightly healthier version — but it does add a very nice zing! My kids don’t like cooked blueberries (weirdos!), so I just left the blueberries out of the first batch; they loved the plain orange muffins, no drizzle required. (Kavi thinks she doesn’t like orange, but she is wrong.)

2 large eggs
2/3 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. sour cream (room temperature)
1/2 c. orange juice
1 t. vanilla extract
3 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
zest of 1-2 oranges
1 c. blueberries

1 c. confectioners’ sugar
2-3 T lime juice
1 t. vanilla
1-2 T milk, if needed to thin drizzle

1. Preheat oven to 350F; grease mini muffin pans.

2. In a large bowl, add eggs, sugar, oil, sour cream, orange juice, vanilla, and zest; whisk until well-combined.

3. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt together.

4. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined; gently fold in blueberries, and scoop into muffin pan.

5. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Remove muffins from oven; remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

7. Make drizzle: whisk together confectioners’ sugar, lime juice, vanilla. If a thinner consistency is desired, whisk in 1-2 T milk.

8. When muffins are completely cooled, drizzle, let set, and enjoy.

Vegan Serendib Unboxing Day

Look what just arrived! Unboxing day for Vegan Serendib! 🙂

Official ‘launch’ date is November 15th, but if you know me, you can get your copies earlier…

…and if you’re a reviewer or industry professional interested in a review copy, now is a great time to let me know. We’ll have hardcover, paperback, and digital review copies soon, though I admit, the print copies are pretty expensive for us to produce and ship, so if digital works for you, that’d be ideal. 🙂