When I think of Sri Lankan Food, I must admit that I think mainly of fish curries, with their delicate flavours and subtle infusions of spices. It is the ability of those spice mixes to bring out the best of the fish which excite my taste buds. Beyond that, my knowledge is more limited, with the exception of Hoppers, as I now know they are called, when I have brought them at Food Fairs in Australia.
Serendip, by Peter Kuruvita, is a book that will extend my knowledge of Sri Lankan cookery. While Peter didn't spend all his life growing up in Sri Lanka, he certainly spend in formative years there, developing his love for Sri Lankan food that his Grandmother would prepare for her family. Years later, after becoming a successful chef in his own right, he travelled back to Sri Lankan to capture authentic Sri Lankan recipes he so dearly remembers as a child.
Serendip consists of eight main sections, being Introduction, which introduces us to him immediate family, and their journey to Sri Lanka when Peter was four and a half, and next he brings us Meet My Family, where he introduces us to his newly acquired grandparents. These two sections, while short, help us understand why those years spend in Sri Lanka had such a profound influence on him.
The other sections are mainly devoted to recipes. In the Beginning, is a look at spices, curry powders, chutneys, pickles and sambals. My Grandmother's Kitchen, introduces meat, fish seafood, and vegetarian curries, and a special section on his grandmother's treats and comforters. On The Road takes us on a journey around Sri Lanka to discover the regional and ethical specialities that are to be discovered. The Last three sections are Sweet Temptations, The Bakery and Wickramapala's Favourites.
To give you an idea of the range of recipes, you will find Roasted Curry Powder, Lunu miris (salt chilli paste), White Curry (seafood), Dahl & Spinach Curry and Beef Curry, to name a few. The important thing here is the diverse range of dishes that Sri Lanka have to offer have been captured in a beautiful book. The recipes, which are mouthwatering, are accompanied with personal antidotes that make the book more personal.
With a large part of the Sri Lankan population being Buddhists, this book and the recipes within reflect the influence of that religion, but as with Sri Lanka, itself, it has absorbed the diversity from the Tamil and Muslim minorities to give the food an edge that is not found elsewhere. Serendip brings us authentic recipes that make up the food from this country, and also brings us an insight to Sri Lankan life through Peter, his family and the experiences he had as a young boy.
The book is full of lovely recipes that cover the diverse styles that make up Sri Lankan's cookery style in a way that will help you achieve authentic dishes.