Roshi Fernando Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Roshi Fernando
Photo: Ishani O'Connor

Roshi Fernando

How to pronounce Roshi Fernando: Rah-shee

An interview with Roshi Fernando

Roshi Fernando gives readers a tasty recipe for octopus and briefly explains what cooking has come to represent for her culturally.

Roshi Fernando gives readers a tasty recipe for octopus and briefly explains what cooking has come to represent for her culturally

A recipe for octopus by Roshi Fernando, author of Homesick

I love cooking. I love eating, actually. It's not a huge problem: I limit myself now to eat only foods that I love. Before, I had a habit of forcing myself to eat literally anything. It was a way of being a person of the world: adaptable and non-offensive. I wanted to feel accepted wherever I went. I guess it was the way we were brought up: we were trained not to leave a thing on our plates. My father told us that to leave even one grain of rice was a sin - and to this day, when washing rice, if I spill a single grain I think it an inauspicious sign.

We have traveled a lot as a family, and in all of these countries, I've picked up - not recipes - but styles of food, adding them to my repertoire of staple dishes that I make at home. We drink Turkish coffee at breakfast, eat many different paneer dishes, soups, and fish of every style under the sun. Today in my local supermarket deep in the olde English countryside, a surprise installation of a trolley displaying vegetables from around the world caused great joy to the burghers of my tiny town. Clusters of us fingered plantains and eddoes, green finger chilies and daikon radish. I brought it all home, with two octopus, and cooked the following dish. I made it up. It can be as hot as you like and should be served with yoghurt and cucumber watered down with lemon juice and a drop of Agave syrup.

Clean the octopus by de-skinning and gutting and washing the tentacles. Cut the octopus into small bite-size pieces and put them in a pot with enough water to cover them, along with a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of garam masala. Boil it for an hour to tenderize. Chop a leek - a tough older one is always good for this sort of dish - some garlic and ginger, a zucchini, maybe some daikon, a few spears of asparagus if you fancy it. Chuck it all into a large hot frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and let it sizzle. Throw in something red, maybe some cherry tomatoes - you can leave the stalk star on because it's flavorsome - and most importantly, two or three green chilis. Remove the octopus from the boiling water and toss them into the frying pan, so they get griddled a little. Finally, add the boiling octopus water that remains in the pot after boiling - it should have cooked down to about an inch off the bottom of the pan. I know this isn't specific, but it's a trial and error sort of dish. Get some herbs from the garden - anything that's growing well - I had some early parsley and a huge handful of chives my chickens had turned their noses up at. Let it all meld together until it smells so good you'd burn your mouth trying bits straight from the pan. When it looks done, it probably is done. Serve with the cucumber yoghurt, some store-bought flatbreads, and a green salad.

This is the sort of meal we eat all the time. It's freedom, is what it is. It's Britain and Sri Lanka and everywhere else on a plate.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Names They Used for God
    All the Names They Used for God
    by Anjali Sachdeva
    Pre-publication press has already compared Anjali Sachdeva to Kelly Link and other genre-blending ...
  • Book Jacket: Look Alive Out There
    Look Alive Out There
    by Sloane Crosley
    After a brief (and thoroughly enjoyable) foray into fiction (with her 2015 novel The Clasp), Sloane ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Other People's Houses
    by Abbi Waxman

    A hilarious and poignant novel about four families and the affair that changes everything.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.