After a friend posted about the Heritage Kandalama hotel in Sri Lanka on Facebook the other day, I knew I needed to visit. But getting there would be a nightmare: $2,500 minimum for a plane ticket (with 2-3 stops and 25-30 hours of travel… kill me now!). Seeing the hotel is officially on my bucket list, but for now, I’ll settle for culinary experimentation. You see, the hotel sells a cookbook that contains many of the venue’s signature dishes, plus plenty of tips about authentic Sri Lankan cooking. But you have to buy it from the concierge desk. 🙁 Luckily, the hotel agreed to let me pay for a copy via credit card and shipped me a shiny new copy, hooray!

Cook Kandalama Style is stunning. High quality paper and ink showcase a wide variety of gorgeous photos for recipes, and clearly a substantial amount of effort and revenue went into the food photography. Each recipe image is a work of art, garish yet elegant, with exceptional plating. It helps that Cook Kandalama Style chose white text atop black backgrounds, rather than the more typical reverse. The food pops against the dark exterior and made me want to reach through the pages and ravenously feast upon the contents. The book also delivers on its promise to provide regional and cultural information about how the food is prepared, a perfect addition if you’re up for learning a new culinary skill set.

The manual’s one problem is accessibility. Plenty of each recipe’s items are easily recognizable – coconut milk, tamarind, rice, cashews and the like. But many more are not such as jaggery, sago, maldive fish flakes, snake gourds and gamboge. Obviously being in the country of origin means access to regional ingredients, but what about home cooks like you and me who want to experiment with global cuisine?

That’s why I’d like to announce a new series of Cookbook Makeover posts that will focus on Cook Kandalama Style. I plan to work my way through the book, trying out the techniques offered and coming up with substitutions that you can use at home to make (hopefully) equally as delicious Sri Lankan fare. I’ll try to veganize the recipes I come up with as much as possible too, for those that call for carnivorous additions.

See you soon with the first entry in this series!

note: all images used in this blog post are © Heritance Kandalama