Easy Way To Better Cooking
First Published in Sri Lanka 1964 by Doreen Peiris
"A Ceylon Cookery Book" - is the native cookery book with the highest circulation among homes in the Island and among Sri Lankan communities living overseas. It is written to help preserve the preparation of authentic and truly Sri Lankan recipes. It is meant to suit the changing economic conditions of the modern era, where many a housewife will have to find solutions in facing the domestic-aid problem and ensure homes are filled with happiness.
The book generously gives out some invaluable Hints for preparing recipes, secretively held Preliminaries, various preparations of Meats, Sea Food, Vegetables & Pulses, Pickles, Salads & Sambols, Cakes, Desserts & Sweets, Short Eats, Soups, Sri Lankan Sweet Meats & Breakfast Dishes and Drinks.
All the recipes are authentic, formulated, tried and tested by the Author herself for daily use in Sri Lankan homes. A number of well suited menu suggestions for special occasions, when hosting vegetarian and daily meals have been included to help especially the amateur.
Late Doreen Peiris, the first Sri Lankan Professional Cookery Instructress, pioneered conducting cookery classes in the Island nation and trained many Sri Lankans according to a scientifically developed cookery syllabus far back in 1955. She was the most admired student of Late Cecile de Vos, a cookery specialist and former Principal, Newstead Girls' College, Negombo, who pioneered 'Home Science' as a subject to the Sri Lankan education curriculum.
"Lanka Supa Shasthraya" - the Sinhala edition of "a Ceylon Cookery Book" was approved by the Secretary, Educational Book Publications Advisory Board, Ministry of Education, as a reference book on Home Science for all School Libraries in the Country since 11th September 1966.
HISTORY OF PUBLICATION
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To the memory of my beloved grandmother, Late Doreen Peiris, who edited the first edition of this cookery book in 1964 and to the memory of my aunt, Late Ouida Aponso (nee Peiris), who edited the sixth edition with some modifications and additions.
To both of them for their untiring efforts in inculcating the science and art of Sri Lankan cuisine and analysing in detail dietic value of spices and the nutritious values of various foods given herein.
To my uncle, Mr. Nihal Peiris, who kept this light of culinary of his mother burning for over two decades after the demise of my grandmother and my aunt by supporting the publication and distribution of this priceless book.
To countless persons residing in Sri Lanka and overseas who tried and tested these recipes since 1964 for their feedback and encouragement in taking this book forward.
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This book is mainly meant to suit the changing economic conditions of our Country, where many a housewife will have to face the domestic-aid problem. The publication testifies to the popularity of this book, from the numerous heartwarming letters I received since the presentation of my earlier editions to compile and produce “A Ceylon Cookery Book”. I am thankful to those persons for the inspiration given to me to revise the book. On several requests made to me, I have made every endeavor to add more basic recipes including cakes, puddings, short-eats, breakfast recipes, some invalid cookery, sweets, ice cream and traditional sweetmeats for the use in Sri Lankan homes.
In addition, to the sound culinary grounding, I have received under Late Cecile De Vos at Newstead Girls’ College, Negombo, I miss the invaluable help of my dear mother Late Adeline Mendis. I am proud to say that she was my only ‘cookery instructress’! My gratitude to her cannot be expressed for her buoyant example, the strong feeling of roots she gave me for her conviction that well grounded, you can make of the most of a life, no matter what it brings. Needless to say that my daughter Ouida has been a source of success in my cookery career.
What fun we have in talking over and resolving culinary questions. Working with mother and my daughter have been the culmination of a very happy personal relationship.
Most of the recipes are plain rice and curry for daily use in Sri Lankan homes. A few familiar recipes for quick and easy courses are also given to help especially the amateur. As mentioned in the above paragraph, I have added more recipes to this list.
As with any book of recipes, those given here are basic, and most of them are capable of variations according to the taste and imaginations of the cook. As far as possible I have given exact quantities of condiments and the recipes are tested. Perhaps when tasting the food ccoked to the recipes given, the thought may occur, “this curry need not be so hot” or “there’s not enough gravy”. Next time, add less chilli or pepper - as the case may be, or more coconut milk and so on, and see if your idea is suitable. In this way, housewives will be delighted to find that they can build up the curries to their individual taste.
May I also mention here, that if these recipes are tried out in places where there is a shortage of coconut, an alternative is unsweetened full cream powdered milk or cows milk. This being an unsweetened milk, may be used in vegetables, curries and savoury rice where big quantities of coconut milk is not required. This will not make much of a difference to the normal taste.
16th August 1964
It is customary to have a book of this nature introduced to the public by a V.I.P. or a famous food connoisseur. The author could very well have picked on one of her numerous pupils from the social elite to write a foreword for this book. She is far too practical minded to abide by mere convention. In this, the age of the common man, and I suppose the common woman, she has thought it fit to have a common housewife present this book to other housewives.
I have the privilege of knowing Mrs. Doreen Peiris, the author of this book. Several years ago, I tried out some of her recipes. These I treasure, and still have occasion to use. Since that time I have come to regard her as the foremost authority on Sri Lankan cooking.
The Chinese have a saying, “Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks.” At a time when good cooks are hard to find, the culinary art should form an essential item of a woman’s accomplishments. No woman’s education is complete unless she is able to prepare a good meal. This is more than a fact, it is a truism.
Being aware of this, I set out to Sri Lanka after marriage, armed with a pile of cookery books - ranging from the popular American to those claiming to be International. To this collection, I promptly added the available Sri Lankan publications. These were all wellknown books by wellknown authors. I took it to be a simple task - just follow instructions, and the dish is ready for table.
When I got down to use them, I found how mistaken I was. These authors attributed a certain knowledge of the subject to their readers. This was
precisely my difficulty. I had no knowledge in cooking, much less of Sri Lankan cooking. I was about to give up in despair when good fortune led me to the author of this book. She gave me courage and inspiration. She proved to me that anyone who wants to cook, can cook. All that is expected of one is a knowledge of basic English. I found the instructions crystal clear. There was no need for me to attend any demonstration. Even items like salt are given in exact quantities. The book of hers is a collection of such recipes tested and proved. The menu suggestions make the housewife’s task easier. Visitors for lunch will not cause panic. A few adjustments to your normal lunch, and you are ready.
I am confident that other housewives in my predicament will find this book a boon. It is also the answer to any foreigner in search of recipes
typically Sri Lankan.
I take great pleasure in recommending to all those interested in cooking - A Ceylon Cookery Book.
Rose F. D. Silva
1st August 1964