Culinary island of adventures 

Quick, where is Sri Lanka? And, if we had such a thing as a Sri Lankan restaurant, what would you eat there?

I didn't know either, until I found "The Food of Sri Lanka: Authentic Recipes from the Isle of Gems" by Douglas Bullis and Wendy Hutton (Tuttle Publishing, $18.95). Part of a beautiful series of world cookbooks from Periplus, it alternates recipes with full-page color photos of this exotic cuisine. With touches of Indian, Portugese and Dutch cooking, dishes from the island off of India's southeast coast burn with mustard seeds and chilis, simmer with cloves and mace, and delight with shellfish, okra and coconut.

Recipes for such fare as seerfish lemon stew spiced with cardamom pods and cumin, or beef smore, a Dutch dish simmered with curry leaves and lemongrass, are carefully presented so that even the least talented cooks among us can enjoy new island adventures.

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