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 flavours 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 favourite 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.
Mango Fluff Pie
For British-Sri Lankan parties in the Nineties, the aunties would get together and help each other out by making an array of desserts. Fluffs were big in those days, a kind of cult British-Sri Lankan dessert, an absolute must-have on the pudding table. In homage to our aunties, this dessert is an easy mango and lime curd pie with a throwback mango fluff topping. The fluff refers to a marshmallow icing, which is easy to make and makes for a puffy, blouse-y dessert that looks glamorous on the table.
For the base
120g unsalted butter
250g digestive biscuits
50g caster sugar
¼ tsp ground cardamom
A pinch of salt
For the filling
2 large organic or free-range egg
3 large organic or free-range egg yolks (keep the whites for the fluff topping)
6 tbsp caster sugar
300g tinned mango pulp
1½ tbsp cornflour
Juice of 4 limes
85g cold butter, chopped into 4 pieces
For the fluff topping
3 large organic or free-range egg whites
180g caster sugar
¼ tsp cream of tartar
40g golden syrup
¼ tsp salt, or to taste
50g tinned mango pulp
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C/Gas Mark 5. Line a loaf tin, about 20 x 12cm, with parchment paper.
- To make the base, melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over a low heat. Blitz the digestive biscuits, until fine. Mix the biscuit crumbs, melted butter, sugar, cardamom and salt together in a bowl. Use your fingers to press it down evenly into the base of the loaf tin. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until firm. Remove from the oven, but keep the oven on.
- To make the filling, in a heavy-based saucepan, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar until they’re just combined. Stir in the mango pulp, cornflour and lime juice, then the butter. Place it over a medium-low heat and stir constantly until it has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to stand for 5 minutes, then give it a quick whisk until smooth.
- Spread the curd onto the biscuit base. Bake for 10–15 minutes or until the filling is just set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. When it has cooled to room temperature, chill in the fridge.
- When you are almost ready to serve, make the fluff topping.
Pour some water into a medium-sized saucepan until it comes a quarter of the way up the sides. Bring to a very gently simmer over a low heat. Put the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, golden syrup and salt in a clean heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over the pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the hot water. Whisk constantly for at least 8–10 minutes, until thick and opaque. Once the sugar has dissolved (you can test this by rubbing a bit of the egg white mixture between two fingers; you should not feel any graininess) whisk it on high (ideally using an electric whisk) until the egg whites hold stiff peaks; this usually takes about 5 minutes. Very gently fold in the mango pulp, and whisk hard for about 30 seconds. If it goes a little too soft, it should seize up again if you leave it for a few minutes.
- Spread the fluff over the pie to make it as fluffy and high as you can. Eat as soon as you can.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Bloomsbury Publishing.