A South China Morning Post feature spotlights the book Before It’s All Forgotten, a tribute to the Sri Lankan heritage of Australia-based chef Shivahari Sellamuttu and the food she grew up with in Jaffna.

“You can tell just from the photos in this book that it hasn’t been written by a slick chef … that the publishers didn’t spend any money on a stylist and that they probably didn’t even employ a professional photographer.

“And that’s fine. While pretty, in-focus photos are a plus, it’s the content of the cookbook that matters.”

And the content is nothing less than a labour of love by a gifted cook and writer who says on her blog that “Before Its All Forgotten is my spiritual journey into the traditional way of cooking whist enjoying every step of the expedition”.

Shivahari grew up in Colombo, Sri Lanka, holidaying at her family’s ancestral home in Jaffna, before moving to Australia to work as a chef, restaurateur and private caterer.

She writes in the introduction to the book: “To hear my family and friends say how my food brings them joy and happiness gives me a sense of personal fulfillment.

“To share the dialogues of my ancestors through the preparation and tastes of the recipes in this book comforts me, knowing that these dishes and stories have a chance to be heard again before it is all lost.

“Although my cooking is diverse, the dishes from these provinces are special to me as they have been handed down by my grandparents, my mother, my aunties and the very special cooks we had in our homes.

“I always get excited when preparing these dishes; they evoke so many fond memories from my childhood to the present day. I see these dishes as the legacy of my departed loved ones and the legacy I wish to instil in my family today.

Read her Before Its All Forgotten blog here.


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