Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Serendip by Peter Kuruvita

Gathering the ingredients for the Coconut sambal recipe

Pol sambal which I will soon be serving at The Underground Restaurant

This sumptuously illustrated book on Sri Lankan cuisine inspires me to explore further food from the Southern tip of the Indian sub-continent. 
My introduction to Sri Lankan food occurred, like so many of my food baptisms, in Paris...the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, next to Gare du Nord, (interesting link on the Tamil community in Paris) has several cheap and tasty Sri Lankan restaurants.
Coconut 'pol' sambal, simultaneously fresh and spicy, was a joyous discovery. Peter Kuruvita, chef of the 'Flying fish' restaurant in Sydney, Serendip gives a simple recipe:

1 large fresh coconut, scraped
Juice of 1 lime (I used 2 because I like lime)
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon hot paprika (mainly to give the condiment a red colour)
1/2 a small red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
and 1 tablespoon of Maldive fish flakes
salt to taste (I found smoked salt from Malden's worked well)

I made the sambal (pictured above) without the Maldive fish flakes and it was still delicious. You simply chop it all up together or mix it up in a food processor.  I'm going to work my way through this book's recipes...lime pickle (for I love all pickles), egg hoppers (don't fully understand what these are but they look amazing), pineapple curry, and Vadai, a spicy doughnut, a popular street food.  


  1. This looks utterly lush - I adore Sri Lankan food and have been looking for a good book on the subject for ages. Love a good sambal.

  2. This book does look beautiful. The front cover reminds me a lot of Secrets of the Red Lantern, a cookery book-cum-family autobiography written by a young Australian whose parents were amongst the boat people who survived the perilous journey from Vietnam.

    I checked them on Amazon and, unsurprisingly, they are both published by Murdoch Books so perhaps that explains the similarity in cover styling.

    Does this book also contain that combination of family stories and recipes?

  3. Yes it does, lots of family photographs and anecdotes about family cooking.
    I love that in a book. Food is so connected to childhood, memory and nostalgia


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