Recipes from Sri Lanka

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Pub Date 11 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2022
Bloomsbury USA, Bloomsbury Publishing

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Winner of the Fortnum & Mason Best Debut Cookbook Award 2023

More than 80 lush Sri Lankan recipes for fresh dinners, cold drinks, and sticky sweets that prove small islands can bring big flavors

"A true gift to anyone who reads it." —Alison Roman
"Delicious . . . this book makes me hungry." —Yotam Ottolenghi
"Glorious . . . like having an encouraging, enthusiastic friend with you in the kitchen as you cook." —Nigella Lawson

Since Cynthia Shanmugalingam was a young girl, she has worked to piece together her sense of Sri Lanka, her ancestral homeland that she experienced through the wondrous flavors of her immigrant parents’ kitchen in London. In Rambutan, these ingredients, methods, and tastes—combining Javanese, Malay, Indian, Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences—come together to create an irresistible portrait of modern Sri Lankan cuisine.

In more than 80 recipes, Shanmugalingam takes her favorite parts of the island's culinary tradition and adapts them to be accessible and fun for the home cook: with dinners of sticky chicken buriani and crunchy fried potatoes with turmeric, desserts of mango fluff pie and milk toffee, and drinks of lemongrass lime soda and boozy tea cocktails, Rambutan is designed to deliver as much edible Sri Lankan joy as possible. Combining luscious recipe photography and stunning candids from the island, this exuberant guide is perfect for home cooks looking to explore the exciting Sri Lankan tradition in South Asian cuisine.

Winner of the Fortnum & Mason Best Debut Cookbook Award...

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ISBN 9781526646576
PRICE $35.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 30 members

Featured Reviews

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a great book!

Mixing history, memoir, and recipes this is a thorough and fascinating read. Shanmugalingam shares her family history as well as the history of Sri Lanka. She breaks down curries and sambols and shares information on how to choose spices and create your own mixes. In addition to the basic information about Sri Lankan food there's so many recipes! I learned so much in this book and enjoyed all of it. The recipes include meals like curries, rice, and other sides. The recipes are written in grams and have a conversion chart for those of us in the US.

Overall a great read!

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Half cookbook, half memoir, wholly satisfying. I recommend settling in to read Rambutan as you would read a memoir, while keeping a pad of post-it bookmarks handy to mark recipes you'll want to try. Just relax and enjoy the author's reminiscing about her mother, Sri Lanka, life in England, and a very nice ramble about spice tempering. And then, we're into the curries, and what a vast, diverse collection of recipes it is. I found myself really enjoying learning about curries beyond the simplistic ones I'd tentatively tried making long ago. Cucumber and turmeric curry caught my attention and will be attempted very soon. As will the Sri Lankan turmeric omelet. What can I say? I love turmeric!

I hope you find this cookbook/memoir as warm and satisfying as I did. I give it one star for my beloved turmeric, one star for her mother's stories and strength, one star for helping me really get into the groove of understanding tempering, one star for such a vast collection of curries, and one star for the engaging, bright, beautiful photography. That's five stars!

My thanks to the author, Bloomsbury USA, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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A wonderful collection of stories, photos, and recipes. The recipes sound delicious and generally simple and easy to follow. This book is for anyone looking to explore Sri Lankan cuisine or anyone just looking for new cooking techniques.

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What a wonderful cookbook! This has everything going for it - beautiful photos, unique recipes, interesting descriptions. I love the variety of recipes, both vegetarian and with meat. I would buy this for myself or as a gift (in fact, I will likely be purchasing it as a gift this holiday season).

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This cookbook is really special. I'm unfamiliar with Sri Lankan cuisine and Shanmugalingam deftly explains the ingredients and how to use them. Her instructions are concise and easy to follow.
Despite receiving a free copy I'd like to buy a hardcopy to add to my cookbook collection. I highly recommend this cookbook for vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters.

Thank you Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC.

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I was disappointed the colors in the book were a little muddy. I thought that look was well out but I guess not. Luckily though the recipes look amazing. That pineapple sambal is on my list. I enjoyed the stories each chapter a lot. I think a whole memoir would have been good too! I appreciated the substitution suggestions but I wish I could find more of the ingredients locally. Maybe if I lived in a different area. My in-laws live in Staten Island which has a huge Sri Lankan population and I bet I can find them there!

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Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!

These recipes from Sri Lanka all look and sound delicious. The author is able to give you great backstory to these dishes and foods from her culture. I can't wait to try some of them and taste!

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Two things, if you like coconut milk and have access to fresh curry leaves (likely at a local Indian grocer), you need this cookbook; secondly, even if you do not like coconut milk and can’t get curry leaves to save your life, you probably still need this cookbook. Go ahead and get it because even if you only read it it’s still worth the money.

Cynthia Shanmugalingam’s Rambutan is gorgeous. The photography is luscious. The writing is warm, funny, heartbreaking, and evocative. I can smell the spices and chiles through my ereader screen. I know it’s a cliché to say, but this is a love letter to Sri Lanka, it’s food and people. It’s a love that celebrates that despite everything, Sri Lanka is still here. This cookbook comes with content warnings.

In introducing the world to Sri Lankan food, Shanmugalingam brings in elements of memoir and history. She is the child of Sri Lankans who emigrated to the UK years before she was born. She has that insider/outsider view of her parents’ home culture and cuisine that I’m sure other 2nd and 3rd generations of diaspora would recognize.

Shanmugalingam asserts that Sri Lankan cuisine is one of the most underrated in the world. After reading this, I know I would like to know more. There are a lot of recipes in here that I can’t try because my digestive system and coconut milk don’t get along, but I have latched on to a few recipes that I can eat and I am dying to try (ok, more than a few):

all of the spice blends
Tempered crunchy fried potatoes with turmeric
Shrimp and seafood kool stew
a bunch of sambols (especially the seeni sambol)
Cardamom fried chicken
Potato and leek spicy stuffed roti
Lemongrass and lime soda
I am so excited about this cookbook.

CW: civil war and it’s impacts, violence, state sanctioned violence, acts of genocide described, torture and threats of rape, refugees, references to child abuse, neglect, child labor, child soldiers, illness, death, grief.

I received this as an advance reader copy from Bloomsbury and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.

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As an American Sri Lankan this was one of the coolest things to see. I’ve rarely read Sri Lankan cookbooks other than recipes from my Mom & grandma. I absolutely adored this book and I think this is a must for every Sri Lankan family or anyone who wants to try Sri Lankan cooking. Rambutans are one of my favorite fruits.

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This cookbook is a rare find. I can honestly say this is the first Sri Lankan cookbook I have come across. And I'm glad I did. Cynthia Shanmugalingam does an excellent job of introducing readers to Sri Lankan cuisine and culture. This is not your typical Indian fare, this is specifically Sri Lankan style cooking and reflects it's unique qualities. There is much to learn from this book. It is also very authentic. The food looks wonderful. The pictures are beautiful. There is a good variety of curries, but you will also find roti options as well as desserts. I must repeat, because this is worthy of note, that this is a very authentic cookbook. As a result, there are lengthy ingredient lists with a number of specialty items that would require shopping at a specialty store for most North American readers. So if you are looking for "Americanized" versions of such recipes that you can make from common pantry ingredients, this is probably not the book for you. You will need quite a variety of spices, fresh curry leaves, fresh coconut, and the list goes on. But for those of you who are interested in authentic Sri Lankan food, look no further. This is a very well done book that I'm sure you will enjoy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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