Cynthia Shanmugalingam, a British Sri Lankan Tamil chef known for her eatery pop-ups and street food stalls, which serve a frenzy of happy customers, has taken the London food scene by storm; she is planning to open her first restaurant in London's Borough Market. With her vivacious writing style, enhanced by images of her ancestral homeland and its people, Shanmugalingam's energetic narrative and tasty recipes in Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka offer readers a veritable feast for the senses.
Shanmugalingam was born and raised in Coventry, England, and spent summer vacations visiting extended family across Sri Lanka. In Rambutan, her first cookbook, she celebrates the diaspora dishes of her immigrant family, influenced by their island heritage, adding special twists designed to deliver "as much edible Sri Lankan joy as easily as possible." There are more than 80 recipes: half are vegan, and vegetables play a starring role in many of her creations. She includes instructions for simple, homemade spice mixes and an abundance of red, white and black curry recipes, boldly declaring that curry was in fact invented by the Tamil people. She presents multiple recipes for sambol, a side dish that deliver hits of concentrated flavor; explains the ancient method of tempering spices to ignite their aroma; and spotlights bowl-shaped pancakes known as "hoppers," calling them "the racy underwear of Sri Lankan food."
Rambutan is a cookbook to be savored for its abundance of accessible recipes and celebration of Sri Lanka's joyful food culture. It invites readers to experience the fascinating trajectory of one family's culinary history. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer