How my love for Sri Lankan cooking led me to start Gedera & Co.

By Jayani Samaranayake & edited by Samia Abbasi 

Jayani here, the founder of Gedera & Co.! I’m so happy you found us on our little corner of the internet, wherever you’re tuning in from. We are so excited to have launched Gedera & Co. I feel like it’s been living in my head for so many years to start a business and to see it come together gradually over the past year is incredible — from developing the product, to launching our website and social media. Huge thank you to my team, community, and loved ones who believe in this small but mighty business and remind me of my ‘why’: family and love.  

For this first installment of At the Gedera Table, I wanted to share a little bit about myself and how food became an important part of my identity.  

I grew up in Sri Lanka, a lush, diverse, and beautiful island.

From a young age, I learned to cook from culinary geniuses (AKA my mom, grandmother, aunts, and great aunts). Cooking, in my family, involved lots of love, aromatic spices wafting through the house, and Ammi (mom) teaching us tricks of the trade.  

It started from being asked to chop veggies or mix ingredients and asking lots of questions. If you ever feel discouraged about learning how to cook, just know that it comes from these baby steps of learning techniques, observing deeply, and understanding how/why things happen with every step of the cooking process.  

Eating was also a big part of how I came to love cooking! Feasting on mouth-watering Ambul Thiyal (Sri Lankan sour fish), warm rice and Coconut Sambol, and snacking on warm Hoppers after school.  

When I moved to Australia 17 years ago, Sri Lankan comfort food was transformative.

I was missing home so much. It’s not easy being an immigrant — being in a new country, navigating life & work, and not coming from the dominant culture. I believe food is such a nostalgic and meaningful portal for immigrants to start to feel at home wherever they are. When you take a bite of something, it awakens so many hidden feelings and senses. Memories dance in your mind. Both your body and soul are nourished.  

So, cooking Sri Lankan food in my new home of Australia, helped me feel grounded, feed myself & my family, and create a found family in Australia and connect via food. 

But, let me tell you, it’s not easy to find the heritage ingredients that give each dish the special zing it needs. Especially during the COVID lockdowns, when people were craving their heritage comfort meals and feeling isolated.    

Enjoying the flavours of Sri Lanka and bringing a little bit of Sri Lanka to every household in Australia is my mission with Gedera & Co. Experience it with all your senses: the mingling of aromas, the depth and diversity of flavours, the drama of it all (good drama, I assure you 👀). 

I want people to spend less time cooking, and more time eating & building bonds.

So, that’s how the home cooking kit idea came about!

Instead of spending time going to multiple markets for ingredients or not being able to find things like Pandan leaves, I want to make it easier for you to enjoy a fun and flavourful home cooked meal.  

It has been so moving to watch my community try the home cooking kits, give me insightful feedback, and try amazing flavour combinations they may have never tasted before. I invite you to experience this for yourself, too!  

Until next time, 

Jayani S.  


About 'At The Gedera Table' Blog:

Hello! ආයුබෝවන් : Ayubowan! There is so much to explore in the flavourful melting pot of Sri Lankan & Australian cuisine and culture. At the Gedera Table is our love letter to the power of personal storytelling and soul-nourishing recipes, plus what it means to grow into your multi-hyphenate identity. You’ll get all these juicy bits & more in each installment. Please join us at our virtual table! You can follow us on Instagram @gederaandco and shop our products on our website. 

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