Sri Lankan Cashew Curry

Sri Lankan Cashew Curry
Sri Lankan Cashew Curry

After a wonderful Sri Lankan meal at Sigiri in the East Village, I couldn’t get the savory, sweet, spicy cuisine out of my mind. A late-night search of local Sri Lankan restaurants yielded disappointing results (maybe I’ll see you someday, Sigiri in Edison, NJ) a well-researched though impulsive Sri Lankan cookbook purchase was the obvious next step. I had big weekend plans, and crossed my fingers that Amazon would deliver late Friday afternoon so I could spend the evening reading and plotting and ingredient list-making. Saturday morning I was up early, on bicycle with backpack and headed to a favorite Indian / Pakistani grocery for essentials.

I was also entertaining for the weekend, and the weather promised to be sunny, but brisk ; a perfect night to stay in and cook a Sri Lankan feast! By the end of the day, I had made a pickle, two chutneys, some festive coconut rice and five curries – far too much food for three, so I invited over a few more friends to round out the celebration.

One of our favorite curries that night was the cashew curry, pictured above. This curry is rich (in fat and flavor) and usually served in Sri Lanka for special occasions and celebrations. As a vegetarian curry, it is also served to Buddhist monks on holidays. While the cashew and coconut milk provide richness, spices and fresh curry leaves lend a savory balance to the gravy.

You can find numerous cashew curry recipes online, and nearly all call for soaking the cashews in water for one-eight hours ahead of time. You can by-pass this step with an aggressive boiling. I chose to boil mine until the water dried out of the pan, slightly roasted the cashews in the process and lending and extra nuttiness. You will need a lot of organic, unsalted cashews (at least two cups). I was lucky that my dear, visiting friends John and Laura happened to have a bag of cashews with them direct from Panama!  While the amount of “gravy” in the recipe can be adjusted to your liking, make sure you don’t let the curry cook too dry, as the savory coconut base is necessary to balance the entire dish.


Above, some of the spices and essentials I purchased with plans to explore Sri Lankan cooking. Shout out to Patel Brothers – another favorite grocery – in Chicago!

<a href=””><img alt=”Sigiri on Urbanspoon” src=”; style=”border:none;width:104px;height:15px” /></a>


Chilled Avocado-Cucumber Soup

I love avocado. And cucumber. And lemon, and add some jalapenos and some dill and I’m definitely going to try the recipe. I whipped up this easy, cold soup in the Japanese “magic bullet” we have in our work kitchen. Before I was even half-done, I had staff begging for a taste. It was, as expected, delicious. Whole Living consistently prints healthy and vegetable-friendly recipes, like this one (borrowed below).

ps. can you guys tell yet when I’m eating at my desk? I’m afraid it happens all too often.


Serves 4

* 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced ( 1/4 cup reserved for garnish)
* 1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced ( 1/4 cup reserved for garnish)
* 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
* 1 scallion, white and pale-green parts only, coarsely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)
* 1 jalapeno, seeded and coarsely chopped
* 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
* 1 cup cold water
* 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


1. Puree ingredients in a blender. Divide soup and reserved cucumber and avocado among 4 bowls. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Read more at Chilled Avocado-Cucumber Soup

Catalyst Juice Cleanse – Day 3

I have to tell you folks, I hit a bit of a wall. After my noon body pump class, and into the afternoon, I was HUNGRY. But I made it. And when my fresh juice got dropped off in the evening, John (an owner of Catalyst) suggested that I have the cashew milk juice – which is the highest in protein – either before weight lifting or after my run. That made sense. But what to do when I don’t have my cashew juice to look forward to at night?

At night I dreamed about cheating. It started with a Girl Scout tagalog. Once I had eaten that, I picked up some pasta. Cheese and crackers? Why not. I had a few beers. A cigarette. Someone stop me! I woke up at 7 am, finished “The Bucolic Plague,” and fell back asleep. I rose at 8:30 am, and it took me a few minutes to realize that I had, in fact, not eaten anything that I ate in my dreams. Relief. On to another day!

Catalyst Juice Cleanse – day 2

Day Two. For some reason, I’m not digging the green juice today. Is it the celery? Or just because it occurs twice in a day? I don’t know. But that spicy lemonaid picked me up and I was able to get in a short afternoon run outside – the first Woodlands Graveyard run of the season! Late afternoon left me hungry hungry, and all day I felt a little distracted and foggy. Strangely, the evening seemed like a piece of cake, and I ended up drinking juice #6 an hour later than scheduled, no problem. I’m either adjusting, or just so excited about the cashew milk juice that everything else in canceled out. One huge plus – I slept amazingly last night, and am hoping for another deep sleep tonight!

5-Day Catalyst Juice Cleanse

This very nice folks at Catalyst Juice, a local Philadelphia juice cleanse and juice/raw cleanse company, contacted me to see if I’d like to try and review one of their freshly-made juice cleanses for you. I’d admit that I’ve been eating a bit too much dairy, and white bread (and their super-spawn, pizza) lately, so I welcomed the opportunity to make a clean break with some of my depressive winter eating habits. Catalyst provides a 3, 4, or 5-day juice cleanse, made in Philadelphia. You can pick-up that juice at one of three Philadelphia-area locations, or have the juice delivered for an extra charge.

I started with a phone consultation with Jen, one of Catalyst’s owners, about cleanse expectations – a standard service for customers. While I didn’t eat vegan or raw in the week leading up to the cleanse as they suggest, I don’t eat meat and have a mostly healthy diet, so I hoped for an easy transition. I eagerly awaited my juices, which were delivered to my door at 6:30pm Monday evening. Just three days of juice arrived – the rest will be made fresh on the second juicing of the week and delivered Thursday.

The Catalyst system offers 6 juices a day, and all the water and herbal tea you can drink (goodbye, sweet coffee). They suggest that you have juice every two hours throughout the day. My schedule looks like this:

10 AM #1 Green Juice: cucumber, celery, apple, parsley, spinach, lime, lemon, ginger
12PM #2 Spicy Lemonaid: lemon, cayenne, agave
2PM #3 Carrot Ginger: carrot, apple, celery, lemon, lime
4PM #4 Beet Juice: beet, apple, lemon, lime
6PM #5 Green Juice: see above
8PM #6 Cashew Milk: cashew, agave, cinnamon, vanilla

So, how’s it going? Well. One of my biggest problems is that I work in which I am constantly surrounded by food, preparing food, buying food, planning menus, and ordering food. I walked into the office today to the smell of fresh brewed coffee, gorgeous tropical fruit platters, and fresh bagels, muffins and pastries. Ooof. I had my green juice, and passed.

Mid-morning was a little difficult for me, but the #2 had enough cayenne (and sweetness) to power me through my body pump class. Around 3pm I was really hungry again, but in not too long the #4 came through. By the time I made it home from evening acupuncture, I was ready for the dinner juice, but surprisingly not as hungry as I had been 45 minutes later.

Hungry / not-as-hungry seems to be a pattern. I recognize that I’m hungry, I wait awhile longer to have a juice, and then I’m not that hungry in the end, or its at least manageable. Certainly a change from the mindless graze and munch that I do most days. By the time I got into bed to watch an episode of Dexter, that number #6 juice – all sweet and fatty tasting like melted ice cream, was a real treat. Day one down. I’ll keep you updated.

Fresh Tofu, an obsession

Philadelphia has numerous packaged local tofu options, including Soy Boy, which I often pick-up at my co-op. But I’m obsessed with the fresh tofu options at Saigon Tofu, in the strip mall just south of 11th and Washington. While they make fresh silken and firm tofu daily, they also make “flavored” tofu like vegetable and the lemongrass and with chili tofu pictured above. After I picked up a big box of this wonder, along with some rolls of fresh tofu wrapped in marinated tofu skin, I just had to make a version of Bittman’s thai soup from “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” so that I had an excuse to eat what I hadn’t finished in the car ride home. Saigon also sells pre-prepared tofu dishes – unlabled so ask for a description before you purchase!

Vegan Cookbooks for Father’s Day

Snubbr, a site that let’s you ask any question and have it answered by experts, asked if they could write a guest post about the best Vegan cookbooks for your Dad. Your Dad isn’t a vegan? Mine either. But cutting down on animal products (and his cholesterol) will protect his sweet heart. Maybe present the cookbook over a delicious, home-cooked vegan meal?

Have cookbooks to recommend? Let me know!

Vegan Cookbook Gift Ideas For Father’s Day
by Shannon Clark, a Snubbr expert

If you happen to have a vegan father (or husband) and are looking for a gift for the upcoming Father’s Day holiday, considering a vegan cookbook is one of the best ideas you could get for him. One of the greatest challenges of being a vegan is constantly coming up with new ways to prepare your food while sticking with this diet, so he’ll definitely appreciate the book and make great use of it.

Be sure that you browse around however as there are a wide variety of vegan cookbooks available to choose from. Let’s get you started by showing you our top five picks.

Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

If you’re looking for the most all-inclusive vegan cookbook around, look no further than this option. It’s not only going to provide you with a number of different recipe options to choose from but it’s also going to show you how to prepare a variety of different vegan foods.

If your dad doesn’t do a lot of cooking for himself on a regular basis, this is the gift to give him. The book comes with a variety of different photographs to fully illustrate what each dish will look like completely prepared so from the moment he opens it up, he’ll love what he’s seeing.

The Complete Vegan Kitchen: An Introduction To Vegan Cooking With Than 300 Delicious Recipes

If you’re looking for a low-budget cookbook that will give your dad plenty of ideas, this book can’t be beat. All of the recipes are also low in saturated fat and really pack in the fiber so with each one he prepares, you can rest assured he’s doing something positive for his health.

The book is filled with 320 pages of recipes so there will be no shortage of options when he has this to be his guide.

Vegan With A Vengeance

If your dad is looking for something a little different and appreciates originality with his cooking, this will be the book to get him. Best of all, every one of the recipes has a low budget in mind so he won’t break the bank while preparing these.

One of the nicest things about this book is all the different dairy free dessert recipes it includes so he’s sure to find something sweet that he can enjoy.

The New Vegan Cookbook: Innovative Vegetarian Recipes Free of Dairy, Eggs, and Cholesterol

If your dad has strict orders from the doctor to watch his cholesterol level this will be a good cookbook choice to get him. This book incorporates a wide variety of different foods and flavorings to help spice up meal time from Asian and Indian spices to various natural nut butters.

The recipes in this book are very easy to follow and will be appreciated by those who aren’t even vegan-style eaters.
Since the book is smaller in size it’s one of the best gift-giving options around and will be greatly received by your father.

Vegan Fire and Spice: 200 Sultry and Savory Global Recipes

If your dad appears to be tired of the everyday meals he’s so used to, this cookbook is sure to please. Included in this book are dishes from every single continent so he can expand upon his taste preferences and try some really non-traditional cuisine.

Many of the dishes in this cookbook are quite spicy however, so take note of that and be sure that you warn him. If he’s enjoys the hotter tasting foods, this book will feel like a match made in heaven.

The author does make notes however of how you can adjust the heat of the recipes so if he’s someone who easily gets overpowered by spicy foods, this definitely won’t rule this book out as an option for him.

Being a vegan can sometimes feel like a challenge when you’re running low on ideas as for what to make but with these books the meal options become that much more plentiful as does his nutrition.

If you need more gift ideas, check out They’re a Q&A site for shopping advice, backed by thousands of experts. You simply ask a question, and they search for experts to answer it for you.