Hans Peter Meyer
Special to The Record
Manoja Gangodage is a food entrepreneur with a mission: to introduce Vancouver Island to the flavours of Sri Lanka, one of the original ’spice islands.’ That mission was the result of arriving in a place with no knowledge of Sri Lanka’s culinary riches.
“I couldn’t find any Sri Lankan restaurants, in the Comox Valley or on Vancouver Island,” she says.
The result: Ceylon Cuisine and Spice, selling frozen dinners and a special blend of 14 spices.
It’s not about overwhelmingly strong flavours, what is often associated with the word ’curry.’
The Ceylon Cuisine approach is about subtlety. It’s about applying the culinary tradition of Manoja’s birthplace to the fresh produce of her new Island home. This allows the local flavours to shine in a new way.
Inspired by the reception of their take-home frozen dinners, Manoja and Sudeera decided to step things up. At the beginning of June they launched Ceylon Express, the first Sri Lankan food truck in Canada – at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market.
“Now we can serve you frozen curries to go, we can sell you our unique curry blend, and we can serve you hot food as well,” she said. “Our first day at the market was very exciting. It seemed that the whole of the Comox Valley was also excited for us. We had great response.”
Watch for Ceylon Express in other locations this summer. They’re anticipating that, with Comox approval, they’ll be at the Marina three days a week.
For Manoja, the market “was the greatest thing that happened to us. We were so inspired.”
She says other vendors were very welcoming of their novel approach to fresh and local. As well, vendors have been a source of constant business support and advice. Perhaps most important, the market allows Ceylon Cuisine to connect to local farm fresh product directly.
“It’s something we look forward to every week.”
For more information about Ceylon Cuisine, find them on Facebook, on Twitter @ceylon_express, and at ceyloncuisine.com.