Sri Lanka has stolen my heart and my tastebuds.

The country of spice, rice, curry and coconuts is a geographical wonderland. Sitting at the bottom of India, the beautiful island is surrounded with stunning turquoise water and endless beaches all lined with tall bendy coconut trees. This tropical paradise has you then heading inland, where you’ll soon discover dramatic mountains, all covered in lush tea plantations, cascading down hillsides and more hikes then you can poke a stick at. It really does have it all! Trust me, I’ve been!

Having travelled through South East Asia to the likes of Vietnam and Thailand, my inner foodie desired a little more spice, something different. So.. I decided to spend just under a month in Sri Lanka, and what I experienced and saw is hard to put into word! But I’ll give it a go..

Flying into Colombo in the early hours of the morning, toast and disorientated sleep was all we had under our belts before our travels were well underway.

Heading straight inland to the “Cultural-Triangle”, we got our first taste of Sri Lankan Culture. Biking through the ruins of Polonaura, an abandoned Kingdom and climbing to the Dambulla Caves, a monastery perched under an overhanging rock, the well maintained ruins and temples were well beyond beautiful and belief.

It really wasn’t until we hiked the impressive Sigiriya Rock, a fortress atop an enormous rock, that it really sunk in.. These guys had a real knack for sourcing beautiful locations in which to live.

Sigiriya Rock
Dambulla Caves
Minneriya National Park

This inland area of Sri Lanka, almost in drought, was described by locals as the perfect area to grow an abundance of vegetables. The soil, rich in nutrients, provided farmers with impressive crops, which would be harvested and carted to a huge wholesale market in Dambulla. The vegetables here supplied the main city, Colombo and surrounding towns.

Our Saturday Markets seemed a little less impressive as I was walking around the Dambulla Market, although the thought I might get lost and smuggled into the back of a potato truck was definitely a thought that had never crossed my mind, until now.

Dambulla Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market
Elephants at Yala National Park

With an array of vegetables on hand, Sri Lanka on a plate was heavenly.

Breakfast usually consisted of their traditional egg hoppers; a basket shaped coconut milk pancake filled with curry, coconut sambal and other tasty condiments. Pile it even more with chilli, and you are in for a great day.

For lunch, we would scout out the perfect local hideaway. Curries are often served in clay pots warmed over tiny fires. Here you would help yourself, buffet style (who doesn’t love a buffet!) and load your basket with every spicy dish you could think of. If there’s a vegetable, you can bet it has its very own curry.

During my time in the cultural triangle, I managed to learn a few tricks of the trade as I cooked with a local woman in her village hut. Over fire, we cooked Millet and Chilli Rotti, smashing Coconut Sambal with large rocks and cut our produce with sharp blades poking out of wooden blocks. Do not try this at home…



Plonked directly into the chaos, bustling and beeping of the city centre by our friend, we well and truly arrived to Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second largest city. Located at the bottom of a valley, next to a beautiful large lake, Kandy is your one stop shop for shopping. Clothing Markets, food markets, even dried fish markets, there was something for everyone.

We escaped the city chaos by visiting The Sacred Temple of the Tooth, home to a tooth of Buddas’. As the sun set in the sky, loud bells began chiming, with local families spiralling down the staircases and out the grand wooden doors for offering time. The place, full of energy, was beautiful. Incense wafted through the air and each person held tightly onto their lotus flower awaiting their moment to visit the chamber of the tooth.

Fire Dancers in Kandy
Kandy Lake


Forget underground subways, our next journey to Ella, was on board a long sweeping old blue train, chugging along mountain ridges and through the rural countryside of Sri Lanka. Three hours of magnificent scenery, an old local offering you tea every 20 minutes and an adrenaline rush from hanging out the doors, the train trip was remarkable.

Ella, a sleepy slow little town sits among dramatic mountain peaks, awaiting your expeditions. We had a local farmer take us to some of the more challenging peaks, like Ella Rock, which had vast and beautiful views. Not only were we well hydrated along the way with fresh King Coconuts, but our friend was very generous in feeding us his hiking snacks, Tobacco leaves… Mmm yum!

Before you knew it, Ella has you under her spell. A place that grounds you and reminds you subtly of the simple things in life. Every day, we were greeted by hard working tea pickers along the tea trails, all offering a beautiful smile and warm hello.

After long days of incredible hiking, it was nice just to relax and… get into the kitchen! I got to know one of the locals, and before we knew it, we were cooking with him night after night. Mango Curry, Bean Curry, Potato Curry, Okra Curry… You get the idea. Each uniquely different in their own right and all incredibly delicious!

En Route to Ella
Hike to Little Adams Peak.. (We only wore sandals!)

The South

As we ventured down to the South of Sri Lanka, sadly leaving behind the magic of Ella, dotted along the main road were endless roadside stalls of fruit and vegetable, spices, dried tea leaves and peanuts!!!! “Alison’s Pantry” would have a heart attack at the abundance and price of the huge scrumptious bags of nuts hanging at every produce stall.

These stalls became mandatory pit stops, slowing down our journey and filling our tummies.

At one stall, I had some of the best Buffalo Curd and Treacle on the whole island! The stall holder had her own Buffalos, making homemade Buffalo Curd and Treacle from the trees. ‘Treacle’ a fancy version of maple syrup, is generously (And I mean generously!) drizzled over the curd. This Sri Lanka sweet dish was often served after a meal. I definitely reached my quota with this one…

In our final week, we surfed and safari’d the South and finished our journey in Galle, a Dutch Fort full of amazing architecture, very different in style from the rest of the island.

Here, the local fish market was buzzing. Fishermen would literally pull up their oruvas (outrigger canoes) onto the sand, walk a mere 5 meters to their stall and serve an array of freshly caught fish, prawns and lobster on wooden crates!  Walk ten meters down the road, and you arrived at the fresh fruit and vegetable market, next to it, the spice market. What a way to make shopping easy!

We grabbed a whole bunch of fresh produce, spices and bartered our way to an abundance of prawns, freshly caught. Cooking literally from market to plate was my last taste of Sri Lanka. And boy was that curry a hot one…

Now, back in NZ, with my Turmeric Dahl simmering slowly on the stove as I write this.. I am reminded of the sites and smells, and most importantly the beautiful people of Sri Lanka. For now, although it’s as if it were all a dream, it has left its dear footprint on my mind and… my tastebuds.

Mirissa Beach
Fruit and Vegetable Market, Galle
Buffalo Curd and Treacle at a road side stall


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Spiced Savoury Granola

We absolutely love the creativity behind artisan products on the market in New Zealand at the moment. The abundance of amazing local products make creating new recipes fun and so damn tasty.

In particular, our friends from Fix and Fogg’s peanut butter is one you can’t go wrong with. We got our hands on their latest Honey Peanut butter, creating a crunchy savoury granola that will spice up any salad that you have in mind. Sprinkle a generous handful on your next culinary creation and you’ll be crunching away a taste sensation.



Madame Lu’s Spiced Savoury Granola


1 cup mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame)
1/4 cup shredded coconut
3 tbsp Fix and Fogg Honey Peanut Butter
1 tbsp J.Friend and Co honey
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 150 degrees.

Combine the coconut oil, honey and peanut butter in a bowl. Add spices and mix together to form a paste.

Add seeds and coconut and mix to coat.

Spread thinly on a lined baking tray, and place in oven for 15 minutes, until dry and crispy.

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Bircher w/ a side of Caramel Ginger Pear

Say Hello to our Bircher w/ a side of Caramel Ginger Pear  – Because the pear is where it’s at.

This is honestly simple. Crazy simple. It’s tasty and ticks all those boxes.

Fills you up
Is healthy and nutritious
Easily digestable because of the soaking
Looks and tastes pretty sweet (too often things look blinkin’ nice but taste a lil’ like a dogs dinner)

And…. Everything is interchangeable! No trips to the supermarket with a long recipe list. This one is great when you need to do the ol’ switcheroo. The end result, always lip smackingly good.


We always fold extra treasures through our bircher mix too before we let it soak overnight and the possibilities are truly endless. We like to include a little sweetener in the form of dried fruit; chopped apricots, apple sweetened cranberries, plump little raisins or goji berries ….. Or a good mix if you fancy. We think they make a difference, and add a little interest. Buuuut, not the end of the world if they are MIA in the pantry.

As for the picture perfect Bircher. This means some serious yum toppings. Bircher would look a little like Olivers Porridge if it didn’t have the glitter and gold on the top.

Our toppings don’t usually change too often and we always seem to have the same things on hand… On a Sunday we’ll peel and take the core out of a couple of pears and poach them in a cinnamon and ginger liquid. They keep super well in the fridge and we only tend to eat half each morning, it’s a wee effort for a lasting result in our eyes. Then comes the goodies, like trail mix made for bircher and not the tramping track. Bircher can tend to look like slop if you skip this step. Hey. Nobody wants that.

Our go to ‘trail mix’ will forever and always be my humble Oaty Crumble Granola with a wee dosage of cacao nibs. It’s simple and doesn’t complicate the bircher as a topping. We use it for a helluva lot of things too… mid afternoon snack.. midnight snack, cake topping… Our consumption perhaps a tad too excessive. But life is for living, right?

Then we sprinkle a handful of seeds aboard the granola, which is aboard the bircher.  Like sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Bringing the good fats to our breakfast plate.

Today we’ve jazzed it up for our special little lady, mum.



Bircher w/ a side of Caramel Ginger Pear

Makes four serves, and lasts extremely well.

Bircher Ingredients

1 cup of oats
–       1 cup of cow or other milk like coconut or almond, I just use whichever I have on hand.
–       2 ripe bananas, mashed
–       1 pear or apple grated
–       2 tbsp. dried fruit
–       1 tsp of cinnamon
–       1 tbsp. of maple although optional


Combine the milk and banana together until well incorporated, then stir the apple, dried fruit, cinnamon and maple through the liquid.

Add in the oats, and mix thoroughly. Cover with glad wrap and pop in the fridge to soak overnight.

Ginger Poached Pear Ingredients

–       2 pears, peeled and cored (youtube is great to see how to do this)
–       1cm of ginger, roughly chopped
–       a few threads of saffron, optional
–       2 cups of water
–       4 tbsp. of sweetner like maple, honey or coconut sugar


Combine all of the above ingredients in a small saucepan, except the pears and bring to the boil.

Once boiling carefully submerge the pears in the liquid and simmer for 25 minutes until tender when pricked with a fork.

You can either dispose of the liquid or keep half and reduce to make a syrup, but make sure you remove the ginger and saffron otherwise it will become pretty intense in flavour.

Once cool, we will halve the pears. If we’re feeling indulgent, we’ll heat 1 ½ tbsp. of maple in a small pan until bubbling and set the pear halves, flat side down and leave to caramelize for a minute or two. But this is utterly unnecessary and a wee bit naughty, the 80/20 rule.. with our 20 looking like a 30 at times.

Granola Trail Mix

– 1 cup of its, whizzed up into a one powder in blender
– 1/4 cup of coconut oil or butter, melted
– 1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 tbsp. cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 180c.

Combine the maple and coconut oil in a small jug, and stir until well incorporated. Mix through the blended oats, you should get a mix that looks like crumble. Big and small clumps.

Transfer to a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, at 180c until golden and crispy.

Store in an airtight container before you eat it all off the tray like I do.

To Serve Ingredients

presoaked bircher
poached pears
handful of granola per a serve
1 tbsp. seeds per a serve
1 tbsp. of good quality maple syrup
edible flowers

To serve. Scoop ½ – ¾  of a cup of the soaked bircher into a bowl, top with a spoon of greek or coconut yoghurt if you fancy. We like the brand Cyclops or Raglan. Place the pear in the middle, and sprinkle a good handful of granola around the bottom, followed by 1 tbsp of seeds per a serving and 1 tbsp of maple syrup. Then garnish with some edible flowers, just for Mum. Ohhh, and also because food looks even more delicious with a side of petals.

Ta Da. All done and dusted

So here’s to our Mums. Where would we be without them?

Much Love,

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Baked Salmon with Sesame Soba Noodle Salad

Our all star, all time favourite salad has to be our Sesame Soba Noodle salad. I mean come on, anything with “noodle” in the name means you are down for a slurping good time.

This combination was one dreamed up with love from our Asian travels, when you were never more than a street away from having a good serving of something noodiley.

With the fresh crunch of carrot and cucumber, we decadently coat this salad in a Ginger and Sesame Dressing. The Asian infused flavours are furthermore soaked up by the addition of our favourite noodle, the gloriously wholesome Soba Noodle! Made from Buckwheat, this seed has more protein than rice, millet, wheat and corn! With its high amino acid profile, we love cooking up such goodness and delivering it to all the hungry tummies out there!

To make this salad go a little further and add bonus nourishment, we often bake a piece of Salmon to either go alongside or to toss throughout. We prefer to use Mt Cook Salmon, available at Raeward Fresh since it is farmed and caught sustainably free of pathogens, pesticides and over feeding!

Scroll down for our favourite recipe.



250gm Salmon (We use Mt Cook)
Maple Syrup, 1 tbsp*
Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 180c.

Place Salmon on a sheet of baking paper and rub maple syrup onto the top, season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Serve whole alongside a Madame Lu’s Salad or once cool enough to touch, pull apart into small chunks and toss through salad.

Serve immediately.

*Can use Olive Oil instead if not wanting too sweet.

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Delicate Organic Free Range Eggs with GF Bread & Purple Powerhouse Slaw

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Delicate Organic Free Range Eggs with GF Bread & Purple Powerhouse Slaw

Serves two hungry tummies.


4 Organic Free Range Eggs, or the best you can afford

4 pieces of Sourdough or for a Gluten Free Option, we use the brand Dovedale Bread

2 tbsp olive oil


Heat your oven to 180c on fan bake.

Brush each side of the bread with Olive Oil, transfer to a baking tray and bake until golden. Approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven once golden and crispy.

Fill a wide pan to halfway with salted boiling water and bring to a light simmer. Crack one egg at a time into a small cup and gently pour into the pan of water in one, smooth movement. Repeat with remaining eggs. Cook for 2-4 minutes depending on how soft or firm you like your eggs.

Transfer to a paper towel with a slotted spoon and allow to dry off.

Place two pieces of toasted GF bread on a plate, top each with a handful of slaw and a poached egg. Season with salt and pepper.

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Purple Powerhouse Slaw with Pan Fried Garlic Snapper

Over Summer we begun a wee love affair with our Purple Powerhouse Slaw. And to say it is versatile, would be an understatement. This gorgeous, brightly coloured babe made it onto our plate all hours of the day. Breakfast. Lunch. Or dinner! She was there, sitting pretty.

We friggin’ love this stuff!

It is fresh and full of flavour, the beetroot lending a sweet and earthy profile, balanced by our Apple Cider dressing which is of course, made with our locally famous Goulters Cider Vinegar. Speaking of, Nelson has a whole heap of wonderfully amazing food producers and we feel so incredibly lucky to live in this part of NZ. Slight side-track, back to the salad!

Mingling with our beetroot, are crispy nectarines which taste exactly like summer should. Juicy and refreshing. Add a sprig or two of mint and parsley from our organic garden, a generous helping of organic toasted seeds and you’ve got yourself a delightful box of slaw ready for your dinner. The best thing being, if you can’t eat it all in one sitting, this salad develops tenfold in flavour by the next day!

And if you’re thinking that you’d like to make this salad feed two, serve it with a fresh piece of white fish or aboard a warm, poached egg and a slice of toasted sourdough or GF bread. Click here for the recipe.

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Garlic and Polenta Pan Fried Snapper with Purple Powerhouse Slaw


2 fillets of Snapper (Tarakihi or Gurnard and just as nice)

2 cloves of garlic (white or black)

¼ cup of fine polenta

sea salt and pepper to season

olive oil or coconut oil for pan

1 Box of Madame Lu’s Purple Powerhouse Slaw


Finely chop the garlic and mix with the polenta, sea salt and pepper in a medium size bowl.

Dip the a fillet into the mixture and move around, ensuring each side is well coated. Repeat with the second fillet.

Place a medium size pan onto the stovetop and heat to a medium temperature.

Place both fillets in the pan and cook for 4-6 minutes each side depending on the thickness of the fillet.

Once cooked, transfer to two plates and serve alongside the Purple Powerhouse Slaw.

You may like a piece of Ancient Sourdough or two to soak up all the salad juices!

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After a Summer (have we actually had a summer?).. of planning, recipe testing and a whole lot of eating (that may well be an understatement), we’ve developed a new delivery service to go alongside and buddy up with our current Lunch Delivery on a Thursday.

We know that so many of you are busy busy bees…

You work full time. Then crawl your way home in traffic.

You may have children. And usually ankle grabbers have a sport practice or two, a swimming class or a music lesson. In general terms, something that requires your Parent Taxi Service!

Or you just want more “me” time to enjoy life in all its loveliness. Cue the beach, a bike ride, run or a good book.

And then, on top of all those joy’s, you’ve still got serve up a healthy, nutritious meal for your family come dinner. And that can be a stress in itself! Yes?

So, to save you and your fast paced life from turning into a massive, gigantic ball of stress…. Madame Lu’s will now be offering a Dinner Salad Service, delivering every Tuesday between 3-5pm!

Did we just hear you give a wee ‘yipeee’?!

Our Salads and Sides are packed full of flavour and all the good stuff, none of the nasties and it means you don’t need to prepare your veggies! We do the hard stuff.. gathering, prepping, the monotonous bits and ALL you need to do.. is follow our blog series “Down for Dinner” … which is exactly what you’re reading now. Simple.

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This week, we’re kicking it off with our Middle Eastern Inspired Salad Box… all you need to do is order a salad box online from Madame Lu’s, purchase a piece of lamb in your weekly grocery shop, combine the two and follow our online recipe.

Dinner served in 19 minutes and 34 seconds. Ever managed  to do that before?

So what are you waiting for? Your fast paced life is calling for a helping hand.

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Succulent Lamb with Cumin, Parsley and Lemon | Served with Middle Eastern Carrot Salad from Madame Lu’s

Feeds Two Tummies


 300gm Lamb Backstrap, also known as Skinless Lamb Loin

¼ tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. sweet paprika

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp. olive oil (we love Weka)

salt and pepper to season


Bring your lamb to room temperature.

Combine all ingredients except the lamb in a medium size bowl, transfer the Backstrap to this bowl and rub the seasoning all over the lamb until well coated.

Heat a medium size skillet, preferably cast iron as they distribute the heat evenly.

Add the Backstrap to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on one side. Turnover and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Remove from pan and transfer to a plate, cover loosely and rest for 6 minutes. Once rested, slice thinly.

To serve, transfer a good serving of Middle Eastern Carrot Salad to a plate, a handful of mesculan, a dollop of hummus and the lamb backstrap.


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After one too many appearances in those damn nasty coleslaws, it doesn’t surprise us that Cabbage isn’t usually the first in the shopping basket.

However, this guy does need some serious shinning on him! A member of the prestigious cruciferous family, cabbage is a powerhouse filled to the brim with polyphenols, a phytonutrient that plays an important role in prevention of diseases related to oxidative stress, such as Cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Sulforphane is also found in the humble cabbage, an antioxidant that stimulates natural detoxifying enzymes!

Our Purple Powerhouse Slaw with finely shredded red cabbage tossed throughout.

If this doesn’t make you think twice about picking up that bright bundle of goodness, the Red Cabbage is sure to at least boost your Vitamin C intake, with half a cup equating to 109% of your RDI!

Featured in this weeks salad box, Purple Cabbage mixed with bold asian flavours such as sesame and kaffir lime.

So maybe this guy isn’t as bad as the coleslaw makes it out to be. We always make it shine, by finely cutting it up and tossing through salads that contain vegetables and fruits that have a big impact of flavours. In this weeks salad delivery, we mix red cabbage with our favourite Asian flavours such as sesame and lime!


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This slice is a truly gorgeous, some what healthy alternative to the usual caramel slice or flapjack. There is simply no such replacement for Fix and Fogg’s Fruit Toast Peanut Butter which gives the slice a delicate Christmas flavour, bringing flavours of Christmas Mince Pies into a more edible form. Enjoy, but be warned, you may just start an addiction to Fruit Toast Peanut Butter!

Madame Lu's


1 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup of Fix and Fogg Fruit Toast Peanut Butter
10 dates
2 tbsp of coconut nectar or brown rice syrup
2 1/2 tbsp of coconut oil
pinch of sea salt


1/2 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of Fix and Fogg Fruit Toast Peanut Butter
1/2 cup of mixed nuts, fruit and seeds (e.g. raisins, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds)


Blitz all base ingredients in a food processor or blender until well combined and it stick together when inch between your fingers.

Transfer to a lined baking tin, measuring approx. 25 cm x 25cm and press into tin.

Bake at 180c for 15 minutes until the top looks toasted and golden.

To make the topping, combine the peanut butter and maple in a saucepan and cook on a low heat until thick and well combined. Spread onto the baked base with a spatula.

Place in the fridge for an hour then take out and sprinkle with your mixed nuts and seeds. Place back in the refrigerator to continue to set for another three hours. Cut into bars and serve cold.

The perfect taste of Christmas.



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Madame Lu’s Bespoke Catering

We’ll drive the country side and back to ensure that our delectable food is enjoyed by all. And we did just that with our latest Catering event being held in the beautiful Lake Tekapo.

An idyllic setting for the marriage of Stan and Jessie. The pair, both Sydneysiders brought their family and friends across the ditch and we brought the food. The delicious food may we just add..

Our catering, lovingly created to share, was an array of whole food salads, charcuterie boards, grazing platters and other wholesome delights.

Pop over to our catering page if you are interested in our wholesome catering. We would love help your next event shine.

Till next time,

Summer Rolls
wholefood catering
Cacao + Coconut Mouse and Lemon Parfait (GF, DF, RSF)
Whole food catering
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