cover image Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka

Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka

Cynthia Shanmugalingam. Bloomsbury, $35 (336p) ISBN 978-1-5266-4657-6

British Sri Lankan chef Shanmugalingam, proprietor of Rambutan in London’s Borough Market, enchants with a treasure trove of diasporan recipes. Family favorites are front and center, such as her mother’s coconut dal with kale (dal is for Sri Lankans “one of life’s essentials”) and home-cook-friendly adaptations of traditional dishes, like roasted eggplant red curry (roasting is a “much easier” alternative to traditional frying), as well as her own twists on classics like turmeric and coconut fish curry. She also includes a tempting assortment of drinks and desserts, such as mango fluff pie and lemongrass and lime soda. Throughout, Shanmugalingam’s detailed essays offer cultural context (in Sri Lanka, cool drinks are required for courtside viewing “cricket legends... regarded as rock stars.”) as well as personal—and sometimes melancholy—anecdotes (when she lost her beloved uncle, she mourns the sense of transnational connections “gone forever”). Additionally, acknowledging Sri Lanka’s unique mix of cultures, she provides fascinating backstories for several recipes: potato and leek spicy stuffed roti derives from Muslim cuisines, while the cashew nuts in another curry were introduced by Portuguese settlers. Enthusiastic home cooks and armchair travelers alike will delight in exploring the culinary treasures in this heartfelt tribute. Agent: Ben Clark, Soho Agency (U.K.). (Oct.)