Let's have a glass of kola kenda! | Sunday Observer

Let's have a glass of kola kenda!

 I remember my grandma saying “Putha, you should have this every morning if you want to have a healthy body” when giving me a glass of kola kenda (herbal drink) along with some jaggery on a side plate. I loved having kola kenda mostly because I was getting a piece of jaggery, which I normally ate after drinking my whole glass of kola kenda.

Kola kenda is a traditional Sri Lankan herbal porridge. It is a mix of herbs, grated coconut, steamed rice and a pinch of salt. Villagers start their day with a glass of it, freshly made at home.

Herbs for the kenda - such as gotukola (Centallaasiatica), karapincha (Curry leaves), polpala (Avera lantana) are usually found in our gardens.

It is said that gotukola kenda will re-energise your body, improve memory and intelligence and strengthen hair. It fights depression and formation of blood clots.

Polpala is said to have potassium nitrate which helps in avoiding kidney problems and fighting bacteria in your stomach and intestines. Our ancestors believed that this herb has a chemical agent which will help in preventing cancer.

Karapincha kola kenda is mostly given to diabetic patients as it helps in lowering blood sugar levels. The herb is also used by Indians and Sri Lankans in savoury dishes to add flavour. This herb has a lot of nutrients which will help in fighting infections and improve heart functions. It also aids digestion and prevents the greying of hair.

Another favourite of mine is the hathawariya kola kenda, which is made mainly on Sundays as it is difficult at times to find the herb. It needs to be washed properly and handled with care as it has thorns which have to be removed to make the kenda. My grandma used to say that it is used mostly to improve body functions. This herb helps curb restless sleep and chronic diseases.

Uncommon medicinal herbs such as Kowakka, Monarakudumbiya, Iramusu and Heenbowitiya are also used in kola kenda.

Overall, kola kenda is said to be one of the healthiest options for breakfast. It fills the stomach leaving no space for hunger since it contains steamed rice and herbs.

Kola kenda is also made from garlic. Garlic has a lot of medicinal properties which helps in improving our health. It helps patients suffering from cholesterol as it lowers cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

It’s like a dream to have freshly homemade kola kenda nowadays as in today’s world people find it difficult to make it at home. The main reasons behind this are not having the knowledge in making the kenda and also time restrictions.

I’ve asked many females whether they make kola kenda at home and it was the same answer “No, I don’t have time to make it. So, it’s either from the supermarket or from the kola kenda vendor.”

If you step out of the house and go near a playground, a gym or a workout centre you would find a small kola kenda kiosk or a truck selling kenda made of various herbs, so you could make your selection. It’s a profitable business. People queue up to get their quota of kola kenda.

But why can’t we make a refreshing glass of kola kenda at home? It may be difficult to find the herbs we need, but for a start why not try with gotukola or karapincha?