A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Feast of Serendib- by Mary Anne Mohanraj- Feature and Review

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.

Sri Lanka was a cross roads in the sea routes of the East. Three waves of colonization—Portuguese, Dutch and British—and the Chinese laborers who came with them, left their culinary imprint on Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cooking with its many vegetarian dishes gives testimony to the presence of a multi-ethnic and multi -religious population.

Everyday classics like beef smoore and Jaffna crab curry are joined by luxurious feast dishes, such as nargisi kofta and green mango curry, once served to King Kasyapa in his 5th century sky palace of Sigiriya.
Vegetable dishes include cashew curry, jackfruit curry, asparagus poriyal, tempered lentils, broccoli varai and lime-masala mushrooms. There are appetizers of chili-mango cashews, prawn lentil patties, fried mutton rolls, and ribbon tea sandwiches. Deviled chili eggs bring the heat, yet ginger-garlic chicken is mild enough for a small child. Desserts include Sir Lankan favorites:  love cake, mango fluff, milk toffee and vattalappam, a richly-spiced coconut custard.

In A Feast of Serendib, Mary Anne Mohanraj introduces her mother’s cooking and her own Americanizations, providing a wonderful introduction to Sri Lankan American cooking, straightforward enough for a beginner, and nuanced enough to capture the flavor of Sri Lankan cooking.

Chili-Mango Cashews


A feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj is a 2019 Serendib Press publication.

This is a wonderful and colorful cookbook featuring recipes featuring several geographical blends, but is mainly based in Sri Lanka. The recipes are eclectic, exotic, yet simple.

Naturally the author began with a brief lesson on the spices one will want to have on hand. Once more I was struck by how many of these spices are also frequently used here in Texas and are quite easy to find at my local supermarket- no special trips out of town or ordering online. The author included a recipe for making homemade curry, something I found interesting, since many store -bought curries look good, but are lacking in flavor.

There are menu suggestions, perfect for those who entertain or are hosting a dinner party.
From there the cookbook is organized in much the same way as most cookbooks-

Appetizers and snacks
Main dishes
Side dishes and salads
Cocktails and Drinks

This cookbook is heavy on curry dishes, which is fine with me, since I love, love, love curry- almost to the point of addiction. Some of the vegetable curried recipes are very basic, but super delicious. Other recipes are little more complicated and require a bit of prep time.

I must say I’ve never encountered any recipes quite like the ones in this cookbook. It’s an interesting marriage of flavors. Once more I found a few recipes that will spice up my summer garden vegetables, which is something I am always on the look out for. This is especially true for eggplant and okra, two vegetables I run out of fresh recipes for.

Overall, this is a very interesting cookbook. I found the appetizer and snack section and the vegetable, accompaniments, spices and sauces information the most helpful for my needs.

3.5 stars

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Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages.  The Stars Change was a finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.
Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated and World Fantasy Award-winning speculative literature magazine, Strange Horizons, and also founded Jaggery, a S. Asian & S. Asian diaspora literary journal (jaggerylit.com). She received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Prose, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon. She serves as Director of two literary organizations, DesiLit (www.desilit.org) and The Speculative Literature Foundation (www.speclit.org).  She serves on the futurist boards of the XPrize and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

Mohanraj is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and lives in a creaky old Victorian in Oak Park, just outside Chicago, with her husband, their two small children, and a sweet dog.  Recent publications include stories for George R.R. Martin's Wild Cards series, stories at Clarkesworld, Asimov's, and Lightspeed, and an essay in Roxane Gay’s Unruly Bodies2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib.

Social Media Links
Serendib Kitchen website: http://serendibkitchen.com


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