Friday, 21 June 2019

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj + #Giveaway

A Feast of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj
Self published in America in April 2019.

I linked this post to June 2019 Foodies Read linkup at Based On A True Story

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via Rachel's Random Resources

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Feast Of Serendib

Directly From

The Author



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 crossroads 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.

I had never tried eating or cooking Sri Lankan cuisine before being offered this opportunity to review A Feast Of Serendib. There are similarities to Indian cookery in some of the cooking methods Mary Anne Mohanraj suggests so I wasn't completely at sea, but I also appreciated the distinctly Sri Lankan ideas and recipes I discovered in this extensive collection. I loved the clear colour photographs which helped me to understand how each each completed dish should appear, although I am still rather confused by accompaniment suggestions such as Stringhoppers and Pittu. I think I need to eat expertly made versions of these before attempting to create my own! However, the three dishes I did choose to make from A Feast Of Serendib were all resounding successes and I enjoyed my own not-so-little Sri Lankan Feast as pictured below:

My Sri Lankan Feast! 
I learned from Mohanraj's interesting essays, dotted through the book, that Sri Lankan cuisine is a real fusion of historic and geographic influences. It apparently does lean more towards fish cookery because of Sri Lanka's being an island so fish were in plentiful supply. As a vegan though, I still found lots of recipes here to inspire me, especially the new-to-me ways of presenting vegetables such as the Poriyal and Varai. I chose to make a Carrot Curry, a Brussels Sprouts Poriyal and a Green Bean Varai, and served them with steamed wild rice. Absolutely delicious! All three cooking methods were clearly explained with easy to follow instructions. Ingredients for these were easy to find too, in fact I already had the significant spices on hand.

I particularly liked the versatility of these recipes. Different vegetables can substituted depending what is in season and the three contrasting textures of the dishes I chose made for a very satisfying meal. The techniques are simple enough for even our caravan kitchen to accommodate, yet the results were rather impressive - if I do say so myself. Thank you Mary Anne!

Meet the author

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 ( 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 ( and The Speculative Literature Foundation (  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 Bodies.  2017-2018 titles include Survivor (a SF/F anthology), Perennial, Invisible 3 (co-edited with Jim C. Hines), and Vegan Serendib.

Author links: 
WebsiteFacebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Serendib Kitchen

And now it's time for the Giveaway!

The prize is an ebook copy of A Feast Of Serendib.
Open Internationally until the 5th July.

A Feast Of Serendib by Mary Anne Mohanraj cookery ebook giveaway

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Mary Anne Mohanraj / Food and cookery books / Books from Sri Lanka


  1. I'm not familiar with Sri Lankin cuisine either but it sounds good.

  2. never tried Sri Lankin cuisine, but will have to look into it, it looks very tasty

  3. I love to learn about new cuisines.

  4. Thanks for linking up with Foodies Read! It took me a while to figure out why the author's name was so familiar. I've read The Stars Change by this author. I didn't place her as a cookbook author.

    1. And I only knew her a cookbook author! I'll have to check out some of her other books too :-)

  5. My daughter would love this thank you so much
    Anthony green

  6. Congrats to Pam who's won the A Feast Of Serendib giveaway!

    If that's not you, try your luck again! There's more giveaways to enter here
    with another two starting very soon!