We wanted to share our story with you because we thought that it would be nice to know how it all started. I’m Tyroshan and my wife Ayesha and we are the founders of Ceylon 35.
It all started in March 2019. My initial travels to Sri Lanka had nothing to do with spices. It was more of seeing family and friends that I haven't seen for a few years. Then I met this beautiful girl who became my wife earlier this year. Between now and then I was a wee traveller. All these travels back home made me fall in love all over again with my homeland, its rich culture and yummy food. You might be wondering now, where these guys are living. I permanently live and work in Scotland and Ayesha used to live in a town called Katunayake, Sri Lanka. Of course, I was travelling to see her not just food.
Back home you get fed a lot. For some reason, everybody wants to feed you. Invitations flying in from left, right and centre. Don't get me wrong it was lovely. Basic everyday food tastes and looks amazing. Vibrant colours, aromas and the flavours were out of this world. I'm not new to this but, sometimes you forget how good they were.
My attempt to re-create what my friends or Ayesha’s auntie Samadara cook back in Dundee was hopeless. It was missing life, colour and the aroma. Tried this over and over again with no real joy. Made me wonder what was going wrong. Then I realised that it's the ingredients. Maybe, they are not the same quality as the ones back home.
Last few trips, I brought back all the spices to make simple curries, stews and sambal etc... I felt like Peter Kuruvita! (If you don’t know Peter, he’s a famous TV chef from Australia did a cooking show touring around Sri Lanka.) Such a simple change made a massive difference. What I realised was that when I shop for spices, I didn’t pay much attention. I looked for the name and put it in the basket. I’m sure that many of us have been there. But how can you tell a difference if you haven’t tried anything else? This is how it all began.
Ayesha was the mastermind to all this and I’m the task force. She came up with the idea of starting our small online shop. I was sceptical at first, but she was so determined to see it coming to life. Her energy and passion for this were far greater than my petty laziness. So, I started to support her with the work. Then came the lockdown and that gave us more time to get this started sooner than we imagined.
Our Name Ceylon 35 has a bit of a story too. Ceylon is the name given to us (as in our country) by the Portuguese in 1505. 3 and 5 “Thuna Paha” in Sinhala meaning three by five, is a spice mix found in most Lankan kitchens. It was Ayesha’s idea and I can’t take any credit. I might have to pay royalty later on!
At Ceylon 35 we are very much concerned about the quality. So, we didn't approach the mass production. We are sourcing our ingredients from small farmers across the country. We spent weeks searching for these small farms to supply for us. Our Peppers, Mace and Nutmeg are coming from Kandy and Turmeric from Mahiyanganaya. We drove towards down south to another small village called Udawalawa to get our curry leaves and the moringa powder. Nothing is being rushed and everything is hand-picked to ensure quality and freshness. We did this so we know where our high-quality ingredients are coming from and we can guarantee it for you.