Authentic family recipes, cooked from the heart.
When Michael met Sri Lankan born Malanie, he discovered a love for authentic recipes passed down throughout the generations. From their home kitchen in Stockport, the couple began to cook up dishes that Malanie had grown up learning from her mum Ammie, before deciding the cuisine was just too good to keep secret from the masses. Fast forward to present day and the team are cooking up a storm at weddings, markets and corporate events and are soon to host more Supper Clubs around their local area.
Thanks for joining us both! Tell us more about the origins of The Little Sri Lankan…
Malanie: The business started through Covid. During lockdown, Michael’s job circumstances changed, and he fractured his elbow and couldn’t work for several months. During this period, we decided to start a delivery service, delivering home cooked Sri Lankan ready meal packs.
The inspiration to start a Sri Lankan food business came from me – Malanie – being of Sri Lankan heritage and Michael and myself loving Sri Lankan food. We noticed there was a clear gap in the market for this cuisine.
We had previously done a Sri-Lankan supper club for a well-known London based chef, food blogger and supper club host Luiz Hara. Sri Lanka is becoming a popular holiday destination, so we knew that people would be interested in eating this cuisine in the UK. We wanted to share with them a variety of authentic, traditional dishes, taught to us by Malanie’s mum, Marion, and recipes from Malanie’s family, with our little twists. Michael instantly fell in love with Sri Lankan food after first trying it and helped to prepare it with my mum.
So very much a case of family recipes being passed down the generations. What makes your business unique?
Michael: We have found innovative ways of introducing Sri Lankan food to customers that haven’t tried the cuisine before and are a bit cautious. As such, we created Sri Lankan inspired Toasties – taken from a very familiar British concept but matched with traditional Sri Lankan dishes and Lancashire cheese. For example; red chicken curry, beef smore (curried spiced roast beef), spicy potato and seeni sambol (spicy onion relish).
What do you love most about running The Little Sri Lankan?
Michael: Getting to meet your customers face to face and we get to share our love of Sri lankan cuisine. Nothing can beat that.
How would you describe Sri Lankan food to people who have never tried it before?
Malanie: It has influences from Malaysian and South Indian cuisine. Many countries have left their mark on Sri Lanka through history, The British, Portuguese, Dutch, Malay, South India, Chinese and Arabs have all come to Sri Lanka and adapted their recipes to what is available to use on the island. Some staples include coconut and rice, which is used in many different ways. We do rice and curry and various short-inspired toasties. The recipes were passed down through my family with myself and Michael were taught by my Mum, Ammie, so people can be sure they are proper authentic recipes created from a place of love.
As you say, “cooked from the heart.” How did you get involved in Grub?
Michael: We first joined their Zoom meet ups for advice for new businesses on Facebook, then we did our first Grub event for Plant Powered Sundays last year. We find it’s a really nice vibe and we met a lot of other traders because of grub.
Where can we find you this year?
Malanie: We will be at Nourish Cafe on 23rd April in Wilmslow for our first supper club (we will be doing a monthly residency there), then we’ll be at Grub on the 24th April for Plant Powered Sundays. We’ll be at Two Feet Flaps in Wigan, Zapato Brewery in Marsden and Laithwaites in Alderly Edge in June doing a wine pairing menu. Also, Epicurean Kitchen which is to be announced soon.
Top advice for other start-ups now you’ve been there and got the t-shirt?
Michael: Don’t be scared to ask for advice from other traders. Never give up, hard work does pay off eventually! Social media is very important to your business growth.
What were your reasons for becoming an NCASS member?
It provides an easy way to be doing risk assessments and a due diligence folder which is very similar to what we have dealt with within kitchens that we have worked. Plus the support we get is fantastic, they have helped us so much.
What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received on a dish?
That it reminds them of the time they were in Sri Lanka.
If you could share a meal and a beer with any chef anywhere in the world, who would it be and why?
If he was alive, it would Anthony Bourdain. I’m sure he would have interesting stories to tell about what he got up to on his travels.
I’ve just touched down in Sri Lanka, what should I tick off the bucket list?
- Try hoppers and eat crab curry on the beach
- Visit a tea plantation in Kandy
- Take a train from Kandy to Ella
- Go to the elephant orphanage
- Visit Galle
- Visit the turtle sanctuary
- Go to Adams Peak
There is way too many to mention!