2022 is proving to be an exciting year for British-Tamil chef, author and food entrepreneur Cynthia Shanmugalingam, who is the founder of Rambutan.
Cynthia grew up in Coventry in the UK, visiting Sri Lanka every childhood holiday and eating dishes adapted by her mother and grandmother at home.
She has run pop-ups and street food stalls since 2014 and is the founder of a social enterprise street food truck, Kitchenette Karts, which helps ex-offenders get a start in the food industry.
Named after the exotic fruit found in Sri Lanka and across South-east Asia, Cynthia has nurtured Rambutan since 2019. It’s now ready to bloom with a series of highly anticipated launches – including a cookbook, summer pop-up and restaurant.
The Cookbook: Available from the 23rd June, Cynthia’s brand new cookbook ‘Rambutan: Recipes from Sri Lanka’, tells the story of Cynthia’s Tamil family and the island’s unique, spicy, fresh, vegan-friendly cuisine that deliciously combines Javanese, Malay, Indian, Arab, Portuguese, Dutch and British influences. Cynthia serves up a feast of over 80 simple recipes, including coconut dal, hoppers, kothu roti, cashew nut curry and her mum’s slow- cooked Jaffna lamb curry.
Stories of family and travel combine with beautiful landscapes and candid photography to show both ancient and modern Sri Lanka. From crispy hopper pancakes to spicy drinking snacks, this exuberant guide is for beginners and experienced cooks alike.
The Restaurant: in 2019, Cynthia started hosting Sri Lankan Rambutan popups, which she hoped one day would develop into a restaurant. The hard work has finally paid off, and Cynthia is prepping for the opening of her two floor restaurant ‘Rambutan’, in Borough Market this autumn. The space includes a 60 seater dining room on the ground floor and a teeny bar in the basement. Here, Cynthia will serve “village-style Sri Lankan food with a focus on regional dishes traditionally found in the north of the country”.
Rambutan Ice, the summer popup: Leading up to the restaurants opening, Cynthia is hosting a 8 week long summer popup serving Sri Lankan inspired soft serve. There’s a new flavour every week, including Mango, Kithul Nuts (a homage to Jaffna’s Rio ice cream), Tamarind, Buffalo Curd, Watermelon and Hibiscus (which we tried on our visit), Ceylon chai spice and many more.
If you like to join Rambutan on their journey, please follow them on Instagram: @Rambutan_ldn