A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR
NAMED A BEST COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR BY BON APPETIT * FOOD52 * THE LOS ANGELES TIMES * THE DAILY HIVE
Winner of the Fortnum & Mason Best Debut Cookbook Award 2023
More than 80 lush Sri Lankan recipes for fresh dinners, cold drinks, and sticky sweets that prove small islands can bring big flavors
"A true gift to anyone who reads it." —Alison Roman
"Delicious . . . this book makes me hungry." —Yotam Ottolenghi
"Glorious . . . like having an encouraging, enthusiastic friend with you in the kitchen as you cook." —Nigella Lawson
Since Cynthia Shanmugalingam was a young girl, she has worked to piece together her sense of Sri Lanka, her ancestral homeland that she experienced through the wondrous flavors of her immigrant parents’ kitchen in London. In Rambutan, these ingredients, methods, and tastes—combining Javanese, Malay, Indian, Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences—come together to create an irresistible portrait of modern Sri Lankan cuisine.
In more than 80 recipes, Shanmugalingam takes her favorite parts of the island's culinary tradition and adapts them to be accessible and fun for the home cook: with dinners of sticky chicken buriani and crunchy fried potatoes with turmeric, desserts of mango fluff pie and milk toffee, and drinks of lemongrass lime soda and boozy tea cocktails, Rambutan is designed to deliver as much edible Sri Lankan joy as possible. Combining luscious recipe photography and stunning candids from the island, this exuberant guide is perfect for home cooks looking to explore the exciting Sri Lankan tradition in South Asian cuisine.
Cynthia Shanmugalingam is a British-Sri Lankan cook who grew up in Coventry in the UK, visiting Sri Lanka every childhood holiday and eating dishes adapted by her mother and grandmother at home.
She has run pop-ups and street food stalls since 2014 and is the founder of a social enterprise street food truck Kitchenette Karts, which helps ex-offenders get a start in the food industry. In 2019 she started doing Sri Lankan Rambutan pop-ups, which she plans to develop into a restaurant. She has been featured on BBC news and WePresent alongside a spectrum of print media.
"Every line of this exceptional Sri Lankan cookbook is worth reading because Shanmugalingam’s writing is like a friend divulging her family’s juiciest gossip, and that gossip is usually about buying coconuts... A gorgeous, inspiring cookbook that will keep me cooking until the last of my Sri Lankan curry powder is used—in which case, I’ll have to blend a fresh batch." - Bon Appetit, "Best Cookbooks of 2022
"Rambutan might just be my favorite book of the year … All of its recipes, however, are highly cookable—like the intensely flavorful coconut dal with kale that comes together in under 40 minutes. Shanmugalingam also does a great job of contextualizing her family’s recipes within the island’s complex political history, bringing nuance to every single page and dish." - Food52, "Best Cookbooks to Give (& Get!) This Holiday Season"
"Cynthia Shanmugalingam is an especially enthralling storyteller . . . I felt the gravitational pull of her writing about her native Sri Lanka and its delicious, conflated foodways . . . Like so many defining works of the cookbook genre, Shanmugalingam’s gorgeously photographed tome melds memoir, history, journalism and instruction into a seamless literary hybrid." - The Los Angeles Times, "Best Cookbooks of 2022"
"Ms. Shanmugalingam’s recipes are full of easy-to-love flavors like coconut and tamarind and sway mostly Tamil in keeping with her family’s heritage. But she doesn’t shy away from Sri Lanka’s troubled political past—and present—either. Dishes like a Sinhalese black pork curry, adopted by her grandparents while weathering decades of civil war in a southern stronghold, speak to the need to flee, adapt and integrate." - The Wall Street Journal
"Experience the tastes, smells, and colors of Sri Lankan cooking in this outstanding cookbook featuring more than 80 recipes from the author’s ancestral homeland. Shanmugalingam offers up an introduction to the country’s history before setting off into rich and tasty curries, street foods, and portable snacks. The Milk Toffee is a must and every dish should be served with a side of simple Godamba Roti." - The Daily Hive, "Best Cookbooks of 2022"
“Shanmugalingam shares a deeply personal look at Sri Lankan food through 80 recipes. Through green mango curries, herbaceous sambols, and fiery red seafood stews, she provides a picture of a cuisine that's been shaped by natural resources, war, and many generations of innovative home cooks.” —Epicurious
"Shanmugalingam paints a cultural picture of the ingredients, methods, and tastes that make up Sri Lankan food — all while making them accessible for home cooks. Our mouths are watering over treats like mango fluff pie and fizzy lemongrass lime soda. And the photographs and personal stories are *chef's kiss* too." - The Skimm, "17 New Cookbooks That’ll Get You Ready for Hibernation Season"
“Shanmugalingam enchants with a treasure trove of diasporan recipes…detailed essays offer cultural context as well as personal-and sometimes melancholy-anecdotes. Additionally, acknowledging Sri Lanka's unique mix of cultures, [Shanmugalingam] provides fascinating backstories for several recipes... Enthusiastic home cooks and armchair travelers alike will delight in exploring the culinary treasures in this heartfelt tribute.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"With her vivacious writing style, enhanced by images of her ancestral homeland and its people, Shanmugalingam's energetic narrative and tasty recipes offer readers a veritable feast for the senses… 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." - Shelf Awareness, starred review
“[Shanmugalingam] offers recipes from across [Sri Lanka], all illustrated with vivid photographs that capture intense tropical colors of dishes both savory and sweet… Shanmugalingam's recipes reflect the diversity of Sri Lanka, home to Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, and Christian religious traditions, each with its own inventories of favorite and forbidden foods.” —Booklist
“Delicious... This book makes me hungry to travel, explore and eat new things, especially curries.” —Yotam Ottolenghi
“The honesty, humor, and generosity of spirit that flows from each page is a true gift to anyone who reads it.” —Alison Roman
“This glorious book invites the reader into her life, her memories, the shaping of an appetite, and brings Sri Lanka to life in a way that resonates deep in the soul. Cynthia Shanmugalingam's food, like her voice, is bright, warm, and no-nonsense in an immediately trustworthy way. It's like having an encouraging, enthusiastic friend with you in the kitchen as you cook... [a] beautiful book.” —Nigella Lawson
“Rambutan takes us by the hand to Sri Lanka, a tantalizingly delicious cookbook filled with spirited tales, cooking knowhow and tender family stories.” —Lara Lee
“A proper (and honest) insider's guide to Sri Lankan home cooking. I picked up this book for the food, but I'll treasure it forever for the stories.” —Meera Sodha
“The vivacity of storytelling is poured into recipes that beguile and transport the cook if not to Sri Lanka then at least to the kitchen.” —Jeremy Lee
“A joyous book, stuffed with tantalizing food and beautiful writing.” —Shamil Thakrar, author of DISHOOM
“Passionate, beautiful, eye-opening & totally engaging.” —Ravneet Gill
“Full to the brim with bright, vibrant, colorful recipes. I love this book and want to cook and eat my way through every page!” —Skye Gyngell
“This is the recipe book I've been waiting for.” —George Alagiah
“A thing of great beauty and heart. The food jumps out at you with a promise of deliciousness.” —Anna Jones