The recipes of Ada de la Harpe

Ada de la HarpeAda Henrietta Ferdinands was born in 1883, the sixth of the fourteen children of Frederick William Ferdinands and Henrietta Jansz, a Sri Lankan Dutch Burgher. Dutch Burghers are the descendants of employees of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) who chose to remain in Sri Lanka when the British took over government of the country.

She was my grandmother, Ada de La Harpe.

My memories of Ada are few; she died when I was six. The most vivid is of helping her make Sri Lankan Christmas cake, a cake that is not only scrumptious, but one of two dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine that most completely bring together all the food influences successive waves of settlers and colonists brought to the Sri Lankan table. 

Ada wrote the book to pass on to her children, one of whom was my mother. My mother, after years of use, again particularly at Christmas time, passed it on to me. I can't pass the book itself on to you, but I can share it with you.

Below I have updated some of my favourite recipes from the cookbook.

Alternatively you can view the cookbook at or download it at

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