Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils

‘Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils’ is a project dear to my heart and will be an important part of ‘My Tamil Kitchen’.

First published in 2003, the cookbook has sold 6000 copies all over the world and is in its 4th print run. It has also been mentioned in an early edition of Lonely Planet’s ‘Sri Lanka’.

This inspiring project was born when (aunty) Nesa Eliezer and her friends in Melbourne needed to raise funds for projects aiding war affected Tamils in Sri Lanka.  Nesa aunty approached  (aunty) Rani Thangarajah , another member of TEWO (Tamil Eelam Tamil Women’s Association) for a collection of recipes.  Rani aunty came up with some 60 truly traditional recipes. Building upon that, the recipes have been collected from friends in Melbourne and Tamil Eelam and Nesa Aunty’s family’s ‘culinary memories’ to make it a fairly comprehensive collection of some 175 recipes!


Nesa aunty says in the introduction: ‘Tamils love their cuisine and wherever they go they relish the memories of it and try as far as possible to inculcate a love for it in their children’.

In the early years, the profits from ‘Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils’, supported Malar Cholai Home and Sencholai Girls’ Home in war saturated northern Sri Lanka.

After the war, when the entire mid north of Sri Lanka was annihilated by the Government, so too were these homes along with hundreds of thousands of lives. Determined to continue to their important work, this Melbourne based group of friends are now support various women’s projects in Eelam as they are approached for help.

For only $25 AUD, this cookbook is the perfect gift to anyone who loves to cook or experiment with food.  Importantly it is so valuable to Tamils, as we no longer have a land we can call home and so have to rely on our parents to teach us our traditions and customs.

One of the things you will notice straight away is how such delicious recipes are so easy to make.

I would like to thank Nesa aunty and her friends who are part of this very important project, for giving me permission to post recipes from ‘Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils’ on ‘My Tamil Kitchen’.

To buy a copy, please email either Yoga aunty ( or Nesa aunty (  I am not sure if there is any in stock – but you can check. With christmas around the corner – this is a perfect present for friends and family that love to cook. I have two on order.

This wonderful cookbook is not only a must have in my home, it is an inspiration and a reminder of my (our) identity.


17 thoughts on “Recipes of the Jaffna Tamils

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  5. I first found this book on Amazon UK about 10 years ago and bought it for my visiting Australian cousin. What I loved about this book was the recipes most closely resembled my mother’s, her sister and my cousin sisters cooking. No other book has the Rasavalli Killangu recipe. My father loves its so much he once brought back 7kg of the vegetable from Sri Lanka for my mother to cook!

    I have the book on constant back order on AZ but have never been able to get another copy.

    I am actually going to be in Sydney from June 15th 2015 for a week. Would it be possible to obtain and buy another 4 of the book at all please?

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  10. Have you tried the ‘sprats theeyal’ recipe in this book? I’m in Canada and I haven’t been able to get my hands on this book. I’ve tried to make nethali theeyal like I remember having in Jaffna – with the right balance of hot and sour, the dark rich colour, the delicious fond on the bottom of the pan and of course, copious amounts of oil. But the dish I make doesn’t have nearly the depth of flavour and character that I remember from back home. Would be amazing if you did a nethali/fish theeyal post 😀

  11. Hi Dear,
    The words ” we no longer have a land we can call home and so have to rely on our parents to teach us our traditions and customs” really moved me and made me come to tears as we South Indian Tamils are facing the same challenges and sooner we will have to face the same as Srilankan Tamils. The strong accent of Tamil speech in Srilanka is the real Tamil we all earn to learn. But happy atleast you are all happy in some part of the world. Dnt know how long will the Tamil culture and tradition survive .Thanks.

    • Dear Archana, I am sorry for this delayed reply. Thank you for visiting the blog and sharing your thoughts with me. I feel there is a growing awareness and attempts to celebrate and preserve the Tamil identity, which gives me hope.

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