Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves

Hill Country Recipes from the Heart of Sri Lanka

ISBN 9781771513296
Hardcover | Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Book Dimensions: 7.25 in. x 10 in.
192 Pages

About the Book

A Los Angeles Times standout book of the season

A National Post best cookbook of 2020

Featured by Eater Seattle, Seattle Times, National Post, Globe and Mail, CBC News, CTV News, and the Boston Lanka Network

“This vegetable and seafood-heavy book has recipes for all the classics . . . I would plead for as a kid . . . It’s a technique-heavy book, full of reliable instructions and gorgeous, nostalgic photographs.” —Epicurious

Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama’s childhood memories of visits to her parents’ homeland in Sri Lanka were filled with colourful trips to the market, lively, happy meals with her extended family, and long, scenic car rides from the capital of Colombo, past tea estates and farmers’ stalls, into the hill country around Kandy. In Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves, Ruwan shares the rustic, tropical flavours of these Sri Lankan visits—sweet pineapple and mango, bitter gourd, toothsome cashews, spicy chili pepper, tart lime, and many more—in recipes designed with North American home cooks in mind.

She introduces the three pillars of Sri Lankan cuisine: coconut milk, rice, and spice, and walks readers through the steps to make the two foundational Sri Lankan curry powders (roasted and unroasted). She also goes into detail on specialty products—like goraka, pandanus leaves, tamarind, and young jackfruit—always with attention to using ingredients available in North American grocery stores.

With lush food photography and styling, hand-drawn illustrations, heirloom photos and ephemera, Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves is an invitation to a way of cooking and a family of traditions from the country known as “the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.”

About the Author(s)

Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama learned to cook Sri Lankan food from her mother and grandmother. Her knowledge of South Asian foods and ingredients has been further enhanced by numerous trips to Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. Born in Mississauga, Ontario, Ruwan graduated from Simon Fraser University and has lived in British Columbia, Alberta, Ottawa, and Washington state.


A Los Angeles Times standout book of the season

“Samarakoon-Amunugama sets the scene . . . lays out the foundation of [Sri Lankan] cuisine . . . makes it clear where substitutions might be acceptable and where they are not . . . [and] her careful instructions and adaptations for North American cooks culminate rewardingly in the recipes.” —Los Angeles Times

National Post Best Cookbook of 2020

“Samarakoon-Amunugama captures the spirit of her mother’s cooking — illustrating how she created a sense of community through food wherever they lived in Canada — as well as the memory of her grandmother’s hill country kitchen in Peradeniya, Kandy.” —National Post

“All the 65 recipes in Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves are inspired by her mother and grandmother, a tribute to an unhurried time when food was cooked with a lot of thought, with a lot of love. . . there is a thoughtful intent to give her North American readers an understanding and insight into the island’s cuisine, its origins and influences – the Portuguese and Dutch elements that have enhanced it as well as cooking tips and recipes, all woven with memories.” —Sri Lanka Sunday Times

“A lush trove of thoughtful, economical advice for adapting [Sri Lankan cuisine] to North American pantries. Vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will find much to enjoy in this collection. Whether cooking for a crowd or a few, celebrate familiar fall flavors during this unusual holiday season, and find delicious solace in the winter squash, the crab curries, the elegant, topping-laden Fancy Yellow Rice and the simply divine Coconut Roti.” —Shelf Awareness

“[Samarakoon-Amunugama] pays homage to her mother’s homeland, expounding on the abundance of fish around the flora-flush island in the Indian Ocean that inspired its seafood dishes, and fruits and veggies from the hill country of the Central Province that produce memorable vegetarian curries.” —Seattle Times

“Taking a long flight somewhere to enjoy new cultures and foods is not, for obvious reasons, in most of our current plans. We’re staying close to home and looking forward to the day that we can travel like that again. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a big bite of what that journey might be like. That’s how I felt when reading . . . Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves.” —Times Colonist