In a culinary world ruled by celebrity chefs with outsized egos and headline-generating behaviour, how's a sensible grandmother from suburban Kardinya to get a cookbook published? Like a good curry, it takes time and patience.
Compiling hundreds of tasty recipes is a good start. Having some media-savvy friends who know a bit about publishing helps, too.
But it still took Sarogini Kamalanathan more than a decade to see her ambition realised, with Sarogini's Sri Lanka Food finally released last month. "Writing a book, I didn't realise it would be so hard," Kamalanathan said with a laugh. "I just thought it would be writing recipes."
For the Australian palate, the book contains some innovative recipes (carrot and brussels sprouts with coconut, anyone?) in a style of cooking not widely known in this country.
So what does Sri Lankan food taste like? Is it just Indian with a different name? Kamalanathan compares it to the food of Kerala, southern Indian, where coconut milk is also widely used, with a dash of colonial influences from the Portuguese and Dutch. "I think the south Indians grind the coconut more but in Sri Lanka we actually grate the coconut," she said. "Then the milk is extracted using boiling water. I do grate coconut but here I usually buy the coconut milk in cans."
Coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, cinnamon, and cardamom are also staple ingredients of Sri Lankan cooking. "We also use the pandan leaf which the Indians don't use, as far as I know," Kamalanathan added.
As for curries, she has a word of advice: "Just adding a bit of chilli powder and cumin or whatever doesn't make a good curry. A good curry starts from the basics - how you start it off, the way you cut your onions."
There are lots of chicken and seafood dishes and a fair sprinkling of vegetarian recipes, too. But lamb is the only red meat used in her book because that's the way it was when she was growing up.
Kamalanathan was born in Hatton in Sri Lanka's hill country, where her father was chief clerk on a tea estate.
As a child she played with clay pots as she watched her mother cook but when she left school she became a secretary, not a chef.
Indeed, when she married Kamal in 1964 she discovered she couldn't really cook at all. But little by little, as she remembered her mother's cooking, she discovered she had been born with a passion for it. In 1974 Kamal, an electrical engineer, was offered a job in New Zealand and they migrated.
They lived in Wellington. The kiwi capital was hardly a culinary hotspot in the 1970s but in the 1980s there was an influx of migrants, some to her workplace. "We used to share recipes," Kamalanathan recalled, "and all my work colleagues said 'You're in the wrong business. This is what you should be doing - you should be cooking!'"
Kamalanathan never had the calling to open a Sri Lankan restaurant. That, she knew, would be very hard work.
But it was in Wellington that she began to give cooking lessons and where she first tried to get a cookbook published - to no avail. Three or four publishers knocked her back. In 2003 she and Kamal migrated to Perth for family reasons. She continued her cooking classes and journalist Norman Burns signed up for one.
Enraptured by the food, Burns wrote an article for a local magazine.
"I think the very polyglot nature of Sri Lankan (food) makes it more interesting than Indian - or at least the 'common' version of Indian tailored for western tastes," Burns said.
"It's a pretty crazy blend of many influences, which makes it a real winner if you have a dinner party."
Kamalanathan and Burns teamed up with noted food photographer Craig Kinder and book designer Cally Browning to see if Kamalanathan's dream of a cookbook could be realised.
"I'm an unknown entity and no-one was prepared to come on board with us," she said. "So we decided to self-publish."
The four took a road trip around Sri Lanka in 2011 to immerse themselves in the culture and country. They also collected a nickname and when they came back the Four Wallas produced Sarogini's Sri Lank Food - a hefty self-published hardback containing almost 100 recipes. She says meals should take time, effort and love, adding: "I believe good cooking comes from the heart."
Sarogini's Sri Lanka Food is available from selected Perth bookshops and cafes, and at srilankafood.net, $44.95, plus $11 postage.