Vegan Serendib

We come together with other Sri Lankans—homelander and diaspora, Sinhalese and Tamil, Buddhist and Hindu and Christian and Muslim—over delicious shared meals. Sri Lanka has been a multi-ethnic society for over two thousand years, with neighbors of different ethnicities, languages, religions, living side by side. We try to teach our children to be welcoming to all, to share our unique cultural traditions. That is part of what it means to be Sri Lankan, what it has always meant.
Dark roasted curry powder, a fine attention to the balance of salty-sour-sweet, wholesome red rice and toasted curry leaves, plenty of coconut milk and chili heat. These are the flavors of Sri Lanka, a South Asian island at the crossroads of centuries of migration and trade.
Can we choose the good parts of our culture to cherish, and leave the darker aspects behind? I hope so. I hope food can help provide a pathway there. Come together at our table, sharing coconut milk rice and pol sambol, paruppu and jackfruit curry. Linger over the chai—just one more cup. Eat, drink, and share joy.
In Vegan Serendib, novelist and post-colonial academic Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own American adaptations, providing an introduction to Sri Lankan American vegan cooking that is straightforward enough for a beginner, yet nuanced enough to capture the unique flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine.

Table of Contents

  1. MASTER RECIPES
  2. SAVORY ENTREES
    1. Curry
    2. Deviled
    3. Poriyal
    4. Tempered
    5. Varai
    6. Special Preperations
  3. ACCOMPANIMENTS, SALADS, and SNACKS
    1. Fried Snacks
    2. Salads
    3. Chutneys
    4. Sambols
    5. Pickles
    6. Special Dishes
  4. Soups
  5. Grains
  6. Beverages
  7. Sweets

MASTER RECIPES

Master Recipe: Sri Lankan Curry Powder

Master Recipe: Seasoned Onions

SAVORY ENTREES

Curry (cooked in coconut milk)

Beet Curry

Bottle Gourd and Spinach Curry

Carrot Curry

Cashew Curry / Kaju Kari

Drumstick Curry / Murungakkai Kari

Eggplant Curry / Kaththarikkai Kari

Eggplant, Plantain, and Potato Curry / Kaliya Kari

Fried Garlic Curry / Poritha Ulli Kari

Green Chili Curry / Kari Milaggai Kari

Green Mango Curry / Maankai Kari

Green Jackfruit Curry / Palakkai Kari

Green Tomato and Lentil Curry

Hibiscus (Shoeflower) Curry / Sembaruthipoo Kari

Mild Green Plantain Curry

Okra Curry / Vendikkai Kari

Pineapple Curry with Coconut Milk and Saffron

Pumpkin Curry

Ripe Jackfruit Curry / Palapazham Kari

Spicy Plantain Curry

Deviled (fried with cayenne, tomato, and onions)

Deviled Potatoes / Urulai Kizhangu

Poriyal (fried with seasoned onions)

Asparagus Poriyal

Brussels Sprouts Poriyal

Cauliflower Poriyal

Dried Hibiscus Poriyal

Eggplant, Potato, and Pea Pod Poriyal

Jaffna Whole Eggplant Fry / Yaalpana Kaththarikaii Poriyal

Mixed Vegetable Poriyal

Tempered (cooked, mixed with seasoned onions)

Tempered Lentils / Paruppu

Tempered Potatoes

Varai (steamed or stir-fried with coconut)

Broccoli Varai

Cabbage Varai / Muttaikoss Varai

Green Bean Varai

Special Preparations

Lime-Masala Mushrooms

Marinated Ginger-Garlic Tofu
(with Seitan and Tempeh Variations)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Jaggery, Balsamic, & Cayenne

Vegetable and Lentil Stew / Sambar

ACCOMPANIMENTS, SALADS, and SNACKS

Fried Snacks

Bonda

Chili-Mango Cashews / Kari-Maankai Kaju

Lentil Patties / Kadalai Vadai

Stir-fried Chickpea Snack / Kadalai Sundal

Vegetable Cutlets

Salads

Cucumber Salad

Pickled Beet Salad

Rose (or Hibiscus) Salad / Rosappu Pachadi

Chutneys

Cranberry Rhubarb Chutney

Green Coconut Chutney / Thengai Chutney

Green Tomato Chutney with Apples

Mango-Ginger Chutney

Sambols

Bitter Gourd Sambol / Paavakkai Sambol

Chili Onion Sambol / Lunu Miris Sambol

Coconut Sambol / Thengai-Poo, or Pol Sambol

Eggplant Sambol / Kaththarikkai Sambol

Ginger Sambol / Injii Sambol

Kale Sambol

Plantain Sambol

Rose Sambol

Sweet Onion Sambol / Seeni Sambol

Pickles

Eggplant Pickle / Brinjal Moju

Lime Pickle

Mango Pickle / Maankai Oorukkai

Quick-Pickled Cucumber-Carrot Relish

Spicy Pineapple Pickle / Achar

Special Dishes

Cucumber-Tomato Raita

Leeks Fried with Chili

Spiced Tomato Jam / Thakkaali Yaam

SOUPS

Coconut Milk Gravy / Sothi

Coriander Soup / Kothamalli Rasam

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Herbal Porridge / Kola Kenda

GRAINS

Biryani

Golden Rice Pilaf

Hoppers / Appam

Jaggery Pongal / Sakkarai Pongal

Kundu Thosai / Paniyaram

Milk Rice / Kiri Bath (with Bottle Gourd Variation)

Millet Roti, with Coconut and Jaggery / Kurakkan Roti

Red Rice Congee

Roti, Plain / Kothambu Roti

Roti Stir-Fry, Chopped / Kottu Roti

Savory Rice Pancakes / Thosai

Spinach Pittu / Keerai Pittu

Steamed Rice Cakes / Idli

Steamed Rice Flour and Coconut / Arisi-Maa Pittu

Steamed Rice Flour and Coconut with Milk / Pal Pittu

Stir-Fried Semolina / Uppuma

Stringhoppers / Idiyappam

Stringhopper Biryani / Idiyappam Biryani

Tamarind Rice with Black Lentils

BEVERAGES

Beet Juice with Coconut Milk and Lime

Chai

Cocktails

Falooda

Mango Lassi

Mango-Passionfruit Punch or Mimosa

Fresh Sweet Lime Juice / Thesikkai Saaru

Spiced Yogurt Drink / Moru Thanni

SWEETS

Coconut Rock / Coconut Ice

Kokis

Love Cake

Purple Yam Pudding or Porridge / Irasavalli Kizhangu Kanji

Rich Cake (Wedding / Christmas Cake)

Sesame Balls / Ellu Urundai / Thala Guli

Sweet Coconut Steamed Appams / Halapa

Sweet Thosai / Inippu Thosai

Tropical Fruit Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

Tropical Fruit with Chili, Salt, and Lime