This book was recommended to me by Nicola Miller, a food writer and cookbook chronicler I particularly admire and who I am always happy to learn from. When she told me I’d love the book (she had seen an early copy), I didn’t doubt her. And she was right, so, so right. The Island Kitchen has lifted my spirits and made me hungry and happy in equal measure. It’s an extraordinarily uplifting book, from its aqua-toned good-mood jacket, to the inspiring recipes within. Selina Periampillai is not a trained chef and she writes recipes for the rest of us who are not trained chefs: her food celebrates flavour, unfussily. I don’t think I have been as excited to try out recipes from a cookbook for a long time. But then, I think it would be impossible for anyone who loves food to read this book without wanting to go joyously into the kitchen. I have plans for Slow-Cooked Duck with Cinnamon and Cloves, Stir-Fried Crab, Pork & Lime (I feel many evenings ahead will feature this!), Fish Biryani, Mauritian Fried Rice with Vegetables, Chilli Dhal Fritters, Sweet Mango and Red Chilli Chutney, Lemon Chilli Pickle, Rice Pudding with Vanilla, Cinnamon & Cardamom, Mango & Lime Tarte Tatin, and …. Really, I might just as well list every recipe in the book. The actual recipe I’ve chosen for you, though, and after much deliciously agonising to-ing and fro-ing, is the Rum-Soaked Raisin Bread Pudding. I just couldn’t resist, and have no desire to. You need The Island Kitchen in your life. I’ve already bought three books to give as presents, and I don’t doubt I’ll be pressing copies on many more people. But then, an enthusiasm is nothing if not shared. I love this book; I don’t doubt you will, too.
Extract from The Island Kitchen by Selina Periampillai (Bloomsbury, £26).
Photography © Yuki Sugiura