Milk, Spice, and Curry Leaves

Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama introduces us to the world of Sri Lankan cuisine – and from her enthusiastic chats about her home country and the beautiful sights and exquisite flavours, entices you to explore these foods.  

To set you up for success in venturing into a new cuisine, Ruwan takes some time to introduce ingredients, cooking methods, prepping and stories behind the dishes…all to bring you into her world of Sri Lankan dishes. 

A podcast from NerdNite in Vancouver capsulizes Ruwan’s thinking behind the development of this cookbook:

“Michael: Well, let’s get into the food Ruwan. So, the book is titled Milk, Spice, and Curry Leaves. Could you maybe talk about some of the foods that are in that for someone like me that doesn’t eat a lot of Sri Lankan food, didn’t get to go for a year? Maybe talk a little bit about the recipes, and why you chose some of those for the book? 

Ruwan: I think a big part of it was I remember trying to come up with the title for the book. Then finally, we just came up with that, because, I mean, these are what I call the pillars of Sri Lankan cooking. The coconut milk is fundamental, the curry leaves are fundamental, and then the spices. That’s the rich foundation for most of the recipes. It’s your base, it’s your aromatic base, and all of the textures that come into play. 

Interestingly, not a lot of people would think of beet roots, or they wouldn’t think of carrots, or they wouldn’t think of plantains as a curry, because I think we have a concept of what curry might be. So, what I really liked was sharing that you could have a beet root curry, and it’s a contrast of flavors. It’s easy to make, it’s not as hard to make now that we have a lot of these things available, like coconut milk at a time was tough to get. It’s available now, curry leaves same thing, there was a time where my Mom really had to source the ingredients, spices the same thing, now you can just source wherever you like online or in the store. I wanted to really break it down for people so they understood curry in terms of what does that mean, and not just an idea, and what is coconut milk, and what is coconut and speaking to that, and really breaking down the spices, the kinds of spices we use. 

The question I would get from many people was like, “Isn’t Sri Lankan food the same as Indian food isn’t it the same thing?” It’s not because we use a different formula for the spices, so we get a different outcome, and the way we prepare it with the spices and so yeah, I think that’s what I want to do with the beginning part of the book.” (used with permission by NerdNite

We tried the Prawn Curry – check it out in our Recipe section.  Because I live in the country and miles away from amazing food stores that carry international ingredients, flexibility and ingenuity have to come into play.  But don’t let that dissuade you from trying different recipes – just substitute the best you can with what is available in your area or pantry.

Ruwan is a busy lady as seen on her website: between babies and cooking, her life is full: 

“At the heart of Savouring Serendipity is gratitude for the simple things in life that appear in front of us daily, are unplanned or unanticipated, but give surprising joy and bring health and wellness”

That is Ruwan’s motto on her website and from the sheer look of joy in this picture with her family, we can see she lives her words.  And, we want to congratulation Ruwan and her family on their newest addition to the family!

To win a copy of Ruwan’s book, go to our Giveaway section.  And to purchase your very own copy, check out 

Content and images by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama, from Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves, copyright © 2020 by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions.